Bacon makes everything better. From salads to soups, and casseroles, or even just a pot of beans, throw in a little bacon to easily enjoy a heightened flavor profile. Morning breakfast, tea time brunch, a light lunch, an elaborate afternoon snack, or a dinner topper, dessert… the delights and innovations of the humble bacon know no bounds. And at Hunter Cattle, we delight in providing bacon that is seasoned to provide an easy addition to any meal, or simply eaten all by its wholesome lonesome.
I like to add our sea salt and pepper bacon to make a sandwich like the classic BLT, giving it a lovely, salty crunch. For eating by itself or with a side of eggs, our blackstrap molasses bacon makes a great companion. Smoked with mesquite oak hardwood, even our long-time employees have difficulty keeping their mouths from watering when we pull the bellies fresh from the smoker.
Some Health Benefits
Bacon is sliced meat taken from pork belly, and while even the pickiest eaters have a love for this meaty treat, thoughts of high cholesterol and fat have led many to believe bacon is not a healthy option. Let’s consider the good. The fat in bacon consists of about 50% monounsaturated fat that contains oleic acid also known as the “heart healthy” fat that is found in olive oil. Trace minerals, such as selenium and phosphorus, are found within pork products. Not to mention being rich in iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. It is full of a range of B vitamins, a mineral to help convert food into energy for our cells to maintain health. And of course, protein is a major component of what makes bacon a powerhouse cut of meat in the kitchen.
Many of the concerns with cholesterol and saturated fat are controversial, and difficult, for a layman such as myself, to grasp when venturing into the weeds of nutritionist debates. Overall, cholesterol was an area of concern in the past, experts now mostly agree that dietary cholesterol has at most minor impacts on cholesterol levels in the blood.
How Our Bacon is Different
Unlike most processed pork you would find in the supermarket, we do NOT include nitrates in our bacon. Nitrates are used in curing processes to help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. It is also what keeps the red color in meat for a long time on the shelf, but this can lead to potential harm to the body. Nitrates cannot be broken down by stomach acid, so we must rely on our gut biome to break it down into the water-soluble chemical, nitrite. While only a slight risk, nitrite can react with enzymes in the body to become a hazardous material known as nitrosamine, which has been linked to increased cancer risk. Nitrosamine can also be created when cooking bacon with added nitrates at high heat. The takeaway here is – Nitrates have been associated with increased cancer risk.
Due to the health concerns above and the added digestive discomfort when eating nitrate-filled meat, we went in a different direction. Using vacuum-sealed technology and freezing our products, we can provide meat that can be served without the addition of nitrates. In turn, eating our bacon can provide the nutritional value that pork delivers, without the associated risk of any harmful additives. And it goes smoothly with sensitive stomachs!
The Tried and True Method
If you are a wild jackal like me, then a 12 oz pack of bacon is equivalent to one serving. The method that I use to prepare bacon is relatively mess-free and mostly hands-off. All you need is a baking tray, some parchment paper or tinfoil, an oven, and your choice of our sea salt and pepper or blackstrap bacon.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, line your baking (bacon) tray with parchment or foil, array the bacon in a single layer and toss it in. Let this bake for 14-16 minutes depending on your desire for crispiness. Once golden brown and sizzling, take the tray from the oven and transfer the bacon with tongs to a paper towel-covered plate. Once it’s cooled you have a very easy cleanup and a plate full of bacon!