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.
Get in on the bacon conversation and you could win $25*!
Plus, your answers could be published in an upcoming issue of Wednesday Journal!
Alicia wants to know:
What's your favorite local dish made with bacon or pork belly?
Give your answer in the comments section of this post, or any of the Bacon Quest posts on ONE of our sites:
One winner will be chosen at random for each of the three websites. Three winners selected total. Winners comments, and some others, will be published in an upcoming issue of our newspaper. Winners will be contacted at the email used to make the comment. Limit one entry per person. Please only answer on ONE of the three sites.
*Prize is a $25 gift certificate to Downtown Oak Park that can be used at over 75 businesses.
CALLING ALL RESTAURANTS!
Does your restaurant have a bacon or pork belly dish you think could make the cut for Bacon Quest? Tell Alicia and she might consider stopping by on her next adventure!
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org