September 17th, 2014 3:00 PM
What: Home cured and smoked bacon
Price: $17.50 per pound
Where: Carnivore Meat & Fish Shop, 1042 Pleasant St., Oak Park
How: Chef Brad Knaub, co-owner of Carnivore realized, "I can make bacon in smaller batches, with less nitrates, and it's a little bit healthier." The USDA sets a standard for how much nitrates should be used for commercially made bacon, but Chef Brad believes that amount is unnecessary, adding "We'll also be working on a nitrate-free bacon in the future."
Why: "Who doesn't want crispy and salty in the morning?" Knaub asks. Their bacon is what you would expect, but better, and it would be great any time of day. The whole process of making their bacon takes five days. He starts by curing the pork belly with salt, sugar, and pink salt, which he uses because "it's a preservative agent that helps oxygen bind to certain components in the meat and gives it a nice pink, rosy color. It also prevents the fat from oxidizing." The bellies sit in the curing mixture for four days, then they are smoked with applewood chips for 4.5 - 5 hours, depending on their thickness. "The handmade nature of it gives it a little more of a special quality. The difference though, between our bacon and others, is really the service you get," says Brad. So stop by Carnivore and taste the difference yourself. And Knaub might even give you some suggestions on what to make with it!
Online Exclusive: Watch Chef Brad go through the whole process of making his bacon in the Carnivore video!
Bacon Bit: A farm in Illinois and one in Michigan provide Carnivore with meat from Berkshire hogs. "Berkshire pigs have some of the best hams I've ever seen," Chef Brad said. They're prized for their juiciness, tenderness and high fat content.
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What's your favorite local dish made with bacon or pork belly?
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