06 June, 2009

Branding Iron Hardwood Smoked Bacon

There are few products which can be as much of a crap shoot as bargain-price bacon. Sometimes, it will be a jumble of seemingly random slices, piled into the cryovac. Other times, it might be some of the best bacon you've ever tasted. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Branding Iron Hardwood Smoked Bacon is a great example. Made by John Morrell & Company as an "economy brand," it's available at Price Chopper, where I picked some up for $1.99 not too long ago. The view of the slices through the window looked pretty good, and it was a full 1-pound package, so there was no doubt of it being a good deal.

What a surprise when I opened the package, though! The slices were the full length of the cryovac - and each slice was almost three inches wide. Additionally, each of these hyperwide slices were over a quarter of an inch thick! All told, there were seven slices of bacon to this pound. Seven massive slices.

Really thick bacon is hard to cook properly - it wants to curl as fat gets tried out of the side in contact with the pan, and if you try to cook it too quickly it can end up flabby, burned, or unevenly done. The best way to do it is to take your time, set the fire on low, and use a bacon press to keep the strips flat in the pan as they cook. My bacon press is like the one at right: big and round, it covers the whole bottom of a 12-inch frying pan.

Only three strips of the Branding Iron bacon would fit in the pan at once, so it took some time to get breakfast ready that day. The bacon stayed under the press and I checked it frequently for doneness as it sizzled. Thanks to the low heat and the press, each strip came out very nicely: Crisp with the fat properly rendered, but not overcooked to brittleness.

Although we had a good laugh at the unusual way the bacon had been sliced, I would buy it again. Branding Iron bacon is nicely flavored; not too salty with a mild and enjoyable smokiness.



Mr. Dave said...

I have also bought this stuff at P-chops a couple times. I used it to make some bacon sausages once (see link below). It is really not too bad. Usually the paper box means cut rate bacon, but this stuff is OK.

You used to be able to get this giant box of "seasoning bacon" at Price Choppers. It was odd bits and ends of bacon and it was great for recipes. I wish they would bring it back.


Debbie Williams said...

My husband just brought it home on Sunday. Several pieces of bacon looked like they had diseased tumors on them. It was disgusting. Honestly, the bacon on hear looks black in some parts. Suffice it to say I saved it and the container and will be contacting the FDA. It was sold in a poor neighborhood. It was a one-pound package that he paid almost $4.00 for. I personally do not buy brands I am not familiar with. He bought it because he is cheat and as we all know you get what you pay for. I think this is criminal because of the location and the price.