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For many of us, bacon is the king of breakfast meats. First of all, in the bacon category, we can include ham and sausage as peripheral favorites. Think of the options: scrapple, goetta, puddin’, streak o’ lean, and pork belly!
In addition, bacon is such an inamorata among foodies that it has made its way into unlikely foods. Far from over-easy eggs, there are bacon brownies 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, a signature of high-end New York steak houses.
Above all, there is no meat more aristocratic than country ham. It is served as a dinner entrée as well as a breakfast meat. It delivers a haymaker salty punch, but it also is exquisite and complex. Revered throughout the South, artisans rub the whole ham with salt, sometimes sugar or pepper. It is aged a minimum of six months. Some hams are hickory-smoked, which give them a softer taste, but even they are imbued with such concentrated piggy potency that a mild-mannered plate partner is essential. If it is sandwiched inside a fluffy buttermilk biscuit, country ham sings. In concert with a serving of sweet stewed apples or tomatoes, it’s symphonic.
Likewise, there are sausages, which are radiant with regional character. For example, 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.
Other examples of sausage-like fare that boast a local niche but tend to scare outsiders are:
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