Monday, June 2, 2014

One bite: Sort-of-local duck bacon from Maple Leaf Farms

Posted By on 06.02.14 at 04:03 PM

This bacon goes quack

The history of bacon substitutes has mostly been unimpressive. From Sizzlean to Baconnaise to turkey bacon, attempts to duplicate real smoked pork belly usually result in products that depress the gross national happiness. I don't know to what say about macon, or Scottish mutton bacon, which sounds pretty good, but I recently came across a package of thick-sliced applewood-smoked duck bacon in the cured meats section of Harvestime Foods, which always stocks an ever replenishing inventory of delightful oddities.

I know what you're thinking: What sort of duck has a belly fat enough to make bacon? The product lies. The meat comes from duck breast meat which goes through some sort of molding process to make it look like ragged rashers, with fat marbling rather than streaks. The packaging makes the dubious claim that it has 57 percent less fat than regular bacon (what sort of "regular" bacon?), but it renders quite a bit in the skillet, which is not a bad thing in my view—I used it to braise radishes. It's certainly very meaty. There's barely any shrinkage, and it's seemingly burn resistant while still managing to crisp up nicely. You wouldn't mistake the taste for pork, but it does have some of the familiar salty, sweet, smoky endorphin triggers that real bacon does.

It comes from Maple Leaf Farms of Leesberg, Indiana, a little over two hours away, where the company sells a whole portfolio of duck parts (duck fat, duck sausage, duck potstickers, etc). It's a bit pricey at $7.99 for a 12-ounce package, and while Maple Leaf doesn't make any claims about how they treat their ducks, you can at least rationalize that you're kind of eating local.

Maple Leaf Farms duck bacon

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