This piece of meat we have here is what Santi’s sells as “picnic bacon.” Oblivious to this cut of meat, I inquired about the nature of this light pink pork belly. Sadly, the staff couldn’t give me an answer I was happy with, so I went over to my better teacher, Wikipedia and did a search.
Best friend Wiks tells me that “Picnic bacon is from the picnic cut, which includes the shoulder beneath the blade. It is fairly lean, but tougher than most pork cuts.” Forgive me, but isn’t this pork belly? Apart from that, after hurling these beautiful pink babies in my mouth cut after cut, I realized that these were neither lean nor tough. (Anybody with an answer?)
But it doesn’t matter. What you want to know about is not what that is, but what it tastes like.
Let’s put it this way. Bacon isn’t exactly meat—it’s fat-flavored salty crackers that goes well with eggs. Along with bacon in the hierarchy of legit meats are several other pseudo-meats including corned beef, spam and tocino.
So, if bacon isn’t meat, what is? Steak. True meat pilgrims will always search for an inch-thick, bloody cut of fatty ribeye because nothing will replace that experience of slicing it open and welcoming it with a wet, carnivorous chomp. This piece of meat has all the desirable traits of bacon plus a very important extra: a steak-like bite. It’s a legitimate cross between the two.
Like manong’s fishballs whose origins are mysterious (and questionable) you don’t really need to know what exactly you’re eating to enjoy it. This might not be true picnic bacon, but it’ll show you the true path to pork enlightenment.
Butter-Seared Thick Bacon with Mashed Potato and Maple Gravy
Yield: 2-3 servings
- 1 pack picnic bacon (from Santi’s)
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 6 shallots
- Salt and pepper
- For the mashed potatoes, try our previous recipe.
Procedure for the Bacon
- Pat dry bacon with paper towel.
- Melt and heat some butter over the pan just enough to fully pan-fry each side.
- Place bacon on pan and let it sear for a few minutes. Flip to brown both sides.
- Slice into bite-sized cuts and serve.
Procedure for the Maple Gravy
- Heat a little butter over a saucepan.
- Add maple syrup, cream and shallots.
- Add a dash of salt and pepper.