Imagine for a minute that you have a sibling who’s a wildy famous and universally adored celebrity. Everywhere you go, people swoon and sigh and ooo-ahhh at the very mention of your sibling’s name.
You, however, being the proverbial red-headed stepchild of the family, were given a name that makes grownups snicker and makes small children snort Strawberry Quik out of their noses.
Everyday, it’s the same thing: conversations that start with ‘OMG, you’re so-and-so’s brother? That is soooo cool!’ invariably end with ‘Bwwaaaa -haaaaaa-haaaaa!’ and the requisite knee-slapping, ROTFL-ing, and pink milk spraying.
Well, folks, that’s exactly how butt bacon feels.
And it’s more than just sad. It’s thoroughly unfair. For one, the ‘butt’ is misleading. Butt bacon comes from the upper part of the shoulder (confusingly called the ‘base’ or ‘butt’ of the joint.) It’s a thick slab cut from the top side of the Boston Butt roast and is wonderfully flavorful and meaty — often meatier than regular bacon — and it fries up so beautifully crisp that the very first bite will make you weep at the thought of the inevitable last bite.
(Bonus Question for Pork Snobs: Do you know what the real ‘butt’ part is called? Ham. That’s right, ham. You can glaze it with honey and you can decorate it with pineapple slices, but no matter how you spiral-slice it, it’s still the actual butt. Just thought you should know.)
Butt bacon can be dry-cured or brined and is often hardwood smoked just like its more famous kin. The real difference is price: because there’s less demand, butt bacon is often much cheaper — sometimes half the price of ‘real’ bacon. The downside? It can be hard to find outside of the South. If you’re game, though, you can make your own using a standard bacon curing / smoking recipe.
(The Southern Indiana Butcher Blog has helpful photos of the process, including how the cut is made, and some excellent pro tips.)
So, does butt bacon deserve more respect? Is it worth the effort to track it down? Just look at the picture. ‘Nuff said. And please, no more snickering.
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