Fads come and go, but there are always mainstays that pop up to the top of the cultural charts every so often. Right now, bacon seems to be hot. Here in the country, we’ve always known that bacon’s a great treat.
One should have some standards, though. After all, who wants commercial bacon, filled with artifical smoke flavors, oversalted and made by machine? You want real bacon, made by real butchers.
My bacon comes from Marshallville Packing Company, which is about 20 minutes east of Lehman’s Kidron, Ohio store. Jim Tucker, the third generation partner in MPC, was gracious enough to give me an overview of how bacon is made here in Amish Country, Ohio.
“Once the pork comes here to the shop from our slaughter facility in Orrville, we tumble the bellies in salt, brown sugar cure and a little bit of liquid smoke for about 8 hours. Then we smoke them back in our smokehouse for 7 to 8 hours. The bellies are cooled, so we can slice them, and they go into stock, or out onto the cooler on the floor.” The Marshallville bacons are smoked over a mix of local hickory woods. In less than 24 hours, the bacon’s ready to sell. This freshness and careful handling is a hallmark of Amish country butchers.
“A couple of months ago, we couldn’t keep bacon in stock, we couldn’t make it fast enough. It went as soon as we stocked the coolers,” Jim said. “It was crazy.” He noted that Marshallville’s butchers are one of the few to make beef as well as pork bacon. “That gives folks a choice, if they can’t have pork.” Choose from regular cut, thick cut. I’ve found a great pepper bacon there too, but it goes fast.
Five Down-Home Dishes That Bacon Makes Better
1. Scratch-Made Macaroni and Cheese. Crumble crisp bacon on top before serving.
For a great white sauce recipe that’s spectacular with a cup of shredded cheese stirred in, see page 602 in The Encyclopedia of Country Living. Yes, you can stir the bacon in too, but don’t wait around. It’s the crispy texture that sets the dish off.
2. Real Bacon BLTs: you haven’t had a BLT if you’ve never had one with bacon made by hand, like at Marshallville. Use homemade Amish Country bread, plop some homemade mayo on, top with garden-fresh homegrown tomatoes, and taste the difference.
3. Homemade Ice Cream: Garnish homemade vanilla ice cream with homemade fudge sauce and a few bacon crumbles. Maple or butterscotch ice creams have a crazy salty-sweet vibe with a bit of bacon garnish.
4. Bacon-Tossed Popcorn: Again, a few crumbles of bacon to taste, with black pepper instead of salt. For the adventurous, sprinkle some sugar in.
5. Bacon Dipped in Maple Cream: The ultimate Amish Country indulgence. Sure, bacon dipped in chocolate is all the rage on the coasts, but that’s just because they haven’t discovered the heaven-on-earth taste of fresh handmade bacon paired with our maple cream. Put some out at your next family party. I guarantee you it’ll disappear in a hurry.