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Ode to bacon


An array of local restaurants offers bacon for the takin’.

Greg Elwell October 3rd, 2012

There are two types of people who don’t like bacon: vegetarians and imaginary creatures.

And, frankly, I know some vegetarians who love the stuff. (There are people who don’t eat bacon for religious reasons, of course, but for the purposes of my riff, work with me here.)

So, to all you unicorns and wood nymphs and the girls my mom assured me would be interested in me when I got to high school, sorry. For the rest of you, let’s talk about bacon.

Bacon is, at its most basic, a cured pork belly. You can do all sorts of things to it after that. Dry it. Smoke it. Some people boil it, because they’re evil.

They are not boiling the bacon at Local, 2262 W. Main in Norman. They are curing their own.

“First and foremost, it’s about quality,” said chef Ryan Parrott. “There are some really good bacons out there, but in the amounts that we use, it gets to be cumbersome to keep it in stock.”

And since Local is also committed to using local products, making its own bacon means the restaurant can use Oklahoma pork.

Cured with juniper berries and cinnamon sticks and smoked with a blend of pecan and hickory, Parrott describes the taste as “very clean.”

“A lot of companies put fake smoke flavoring into their bacon, but ours has a real, natural smoke,” he said. “Even the texture is different when it cooks. There’s a lot more going on than your average grocery-store bacons.”

One way to get your bacon is in the Local BLT ($8), which also includes tomato, arugula, three-pepper chutney and brie between two pieces of country-white bread, grilled panini-style. It’s also available for sale in the market, if you want to take it home and create your own bacon-y masterpiece.


Bacon beverage

Tired of eating bacon? Of course not! But you can also drink it at S&B’s Burger Joint, 20 N.W. Ninth, home of the Bloody Bacon.

As the restaurant was creating its Bloody Mary menu, co-owner Bryan Neel became fascinated with infusing his own vodka. After creating his own ginger version of the spirit, he discovered he could “do anything.” So why not bacon?

Using four pounds of Wright’s thick-cut peppered bacon, Neel cooks it on the griddle and adds about 20 fresh jalapeños when he flips it over. The whole mess is then divided up between two five-gallon barrels and covered with vodka. With a minimum of three days to infuse, it’s pulled, strained and ready to use in the Bloody Bacon with Zing Zang mixer, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt and a nice piece of bacon for a garnish.

At Rococo, 2824 N. Pennsylvania, owner Bruce Rinehart serves up a classic BLT ($6.25), just better constructed.

“You start with some maple-smoked, thick-slab bacon,” he said.

Rather than letting it get curly and unruly in the pan, however, Rococo slow-roasts bacon in the oven and then does a final crisping on order. Then it’s all about form.

On top of a slice of hearty wheat bread, there’s a base of lettuce, then tomato, then bacon. It may seem a little idiosyncratic, but the proof is in the eating.

If you’re looking to add more meat, there’s also the Triple Decker, which adds a third piece of bread and juicy turkey to the mix.

 

And a side of bacon

But bacon doesn’t stop at the main course — at Red PrimeSteak, 504 N. Broadway, you can get your pork fix with sides, too.

The smoked bacon creamed corn ($9) takes a melange of right-from-the-cob corn, red onion and poblano and jalapeño peppers and adds them to freshly rendered bacon. Add cream, cook down and purée.

Chef Luke Fry said this is just the base, giving the “cream” in the corn a surplus of flavor. Add back all those vegetables and more bacon on top, and when it’s done, you’ve got an amazing mix of crunchy, sweet, salty deliciousness.

Red Prime is also adding to the menu, including sherry bacon Brussels sprouts. Don’t worry your little taste buds, however. While these have a touch of Brussels sprout bitterness, what you’re really tasting is sweet caramelization with lots of butter, sherry, shallots and bacon.

“When I make Brussels sprouts for myself, this is how I cook them,” Fry said.

Bacon is a culinary treasure. It is wonderful on it’s own, but it also makes everything around it better. And hopefully those imaginary creatures will come around, too.

Doesn’t a bacon-wrapped filet of unicorn sound delicious?

 
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