A few weeks ago while at my local farmer’s market, I had just about finished all my produce shopping when I stopped by the Prather Ranch stall to off-set all those healthy purchases. They’re known for having great meat, and I’m a huge fan of their bacon. Not too smoky, cut just right. Usually I just grab whatever package of bacon they have up front, but this time I took a little more time, looking passing over a few until I ferreted out the one I wanted. There was a woman next to me, clearly watching what I was doing, and it was a damn proud moment when the butcher ringing me up noted (without irony, I’ll have you know), “good choice.”
So, how can you determine good bacon for yourself and earn the respect of butchers and fellow shoppers alike? Easy, go for the meat.
The way you buy bacon is basically the opposite of how you’d buy other meat. When you go to your butcher’s counter, you want more marbling through the muscle, a lot of fat to flavor the meat. Bacon goes the other way. While so much of the goodness of bacon comes from its really high fat to meat ratio, you don’t want a really fatty bite all the way through.
Take your average example of raw bacon provided to you by a quick photo search.
All that fat. All that whiteness. All it’s going to do is cook away and leave you with just a few little bites to chew on. It shrivels down to nothing and leaves a whole lot of grease in the pan. Great for rendering fat, not so great for eating.
Now instead, take another image from that same search. This bacon? This is what you want to get. A whole lot of meat that’s going to cook up and just enough fat to bring it all together.
So, next time you’re at the farmer’s market or the regular market or your corner bacon store (let me dream, damn it), don’t be shy about opting for the meatiest bacon you can find. It’ll be worth it.