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On the Fourth of July, I was shopping at our local fancy-schmancy grocery store, Lazy Acres. It’s like the small-town version of a Whole Foods. I love their produce, their cheese department, their fantastic wine and liquor selection, and…the meat and seafood case. It’s so hard to walk by it without buying SOMETHING. Just one artisan-crafted sausage. Or maybe a small piece of ahi to have as an appetizer. Well, on this day my eye was drawn to a package of bacon. It first caught my attention because the slices were so thin I thought it was some sort of prosciutto. I picked it up and flipped it over and was amazed by the low fat content.

This, it turned out, was Garrett County’s hickory-smoked, uncured bacon. Unlike most bacon aficionados, I really like those rare thin slices you find hidden in a normal package. Thick cut-bacon doesn’t always win me over, and I was totally intrigued by this very different looking product. So, refusing to acknowledge a price, I threw the bacon in my basket and moved on.

fryingWhen I buy a new bacon, I like to try it plain the first time. So I opened it up, pulled out a few slices and threw them in the skillet. Well, maybe it wasn’t that simple. First of all, before cooking, it smelled very smoky, almost more like ham than bacon. When I removed my slices from the package, the bacon was so thin it was difficult to get out of the package without tearing, and they stretched a great deal. I actually thought I had three slices when indeed it was four, but I wasn’t likely to complain about that. As you can see in this photo, there really was a lot less fat, which meant much less grease produced during cooking.

friedIt was difficult to cook them evenly, I suppose because of the diminished grease content. I would have liked them to be more crisp overall, but I took them out before certain areas of the bacon could burn. The flavor was really good, but again, not necessarily what I would associate with a favorite bacon…more like a tasty ham. Or rather, what I wish ham tasted like, because I don’t love ham. I think the rest of the package will be used as an ingredient. For instance, I was planning to make some split pea soup soon. This will be the perfect smoky, salty bacon for that use.

This is what I love about American food culture. At any given moment I may run across a food from anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world. We have such a ridiculous wealth of food variety at our fingertips, and I want to taste it all. So maybe this won’t be my new breakfast favorite, but it was definitely worth a try. I’m always on the lookout for new and different bacon products to try. And yet I still haven’t had the KFC Double Down…hmmm. Maybe I don’t really want to taste it ALL.

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