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Bacon is beloved. For many of us, it is the king of breakfast meats, which also include ham (at its very best, the true king) and sausage as well as such peripheral faves as scrapple, goetta, puddin’, streak o’ lean, and pork belly.
Bacon is such an inamorata among foodies that it has made its way into extremely unlikely foods, far from over-easy eggs – bacon brownie or bacon taco shells, anyone? Less crazy and always welcome is bacon atop a burger or a meat loaf, in a wedge salad or a grilled cheese sandwich, as a thick-cut hors d’oeuvre (signature of high-end New York steak houses), or ribboned atop a maple-frosted long john.
There is no meat more aristocratic than country ham, served as a dinner entree as well as a breakfast meat. It delivers a haymaker salty punch, but it also is exquisite and complex. Revered throughout the South, where artisans rub the whole ham with salt, sometimes sugar or pepper, it is aged a minimum of six months. Some hams are hickory-smoked, giving them a softer taste, but even they are imbued with such concentrated piggy potency that a mild-mannered plate partner is essential. Sandwiched inside a fluffy buttermilk biscuit, country ham sings. In concert with a serving of sweet stewed apples or tomatoes, it’s symphonic.
Sausages radiant with regional character include the ricey/spicy boudin of Cajun country, chorizo of the Southwest and Mexican restaurants everywhere, Portuguese linguiḉa in New England and Hawaii, Texas BBQ hot links, and Washington DC half-smokes.
Sausage and sausage-like fare that boast a local niche but tend to scare outsiders are Cincinnati goetta (a pork and pin oat loaf), New Jersey pork roll, mid-Atlantic puddin’ (a fatty, visceral hot stew), southern livermush (aka poor man’s patė), and the hash that accompanies BBQ in the South Carolina Midlands.
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