A butcher's hook

Last updated 08:45 20/02/2013

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When I was a cholesterol-conscious teenager I religiously cut fat off my meat. Chops, steak, chicken with its skin on - they all got the shave to remove the white tissue stuff. But bacon fat was different. Bacon was a novelty item in our house so we didn't eat it often.

And when we did, I gnawed on that fat, enjoying the sweetness, flavour and naughty pleasure of it.

Still, it's best to exercise restraint and if bacon can be enjoyed without the fat then my heart will be happier (and I'm being a better role-model Mummy for the kids).

At Kiwi Butcher last week Stephen Morrison suggested I try the store's traditional middle bacon as well as dry-cured middle bacon.

The former is the typical bacon of which they sell "truckloads" because it's made the old- fashioned way. The latter is a fancier, more expensive option soaked in a brine mix for about 10 to 12 days.

Morrison went into specifics.

When he talked about the "old- fashioned way" he meant the roll of meat was hand injected instead of multi-injected.

"It's like a little bunch of needles that go into the meat," he said of the multi-injecting process. "They can pump up and overinflate the meat."

Perhaps this explains why water seeps out of some bacon, leaving behind too much liquid that then boils the meat and makes it tough.

"We use a single needle so we're not overdoing the brine mix - you're only just covering the meat."

The dry-cured bacon is different again. It's not injected but left to cure so it naturally observes flavours in brine. Its taste is slightly different from the standard middle bacon.

Morrison is forthcoming about lots of bacon-related things but won't reveal ingredients in the brine.

"It's one that we have developed for the bacon competition this year so after that I can tell you.

"But put it this way, as opposed to standard bacon that might have more salt, this has less salt and a sweeter taste.

"The older generation didn't mind a bit of salt in their food but these days a lot of people prefer sweeter, less salty products."

As for the cooking, bacon is thin and doesn't need a lot of cooking, Morrison says. In fact it's very easy to overcook.

The advantage of the Kiwi Butcher bacon is its thickness. It is chunky and wide meaning it doesn't shrivel up and represents value for money.

In our house we diced it for pizza topping, wrapped it around barbecued beef kebabs, cut it up for a pasta bake and devoured it straight from the barbecue for our breaky.

The dry-cured bacon stood out for its flavour. I couldn't put my finger on it but sweetness - honey, perhaps - and a hint of herb flavouring were detected. Was rosemary a secret ingredient?

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It's true that the bacon wasn't fat free but I (mostly) trimmed what little there was and felt thankful for the chance to devour two reliable versions of what some say is meat candy.

Kiwi Butcher's Traditional Middle Bacon is on special this week and next week for $14.99 a kilogram.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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