Independent Processor editor-in-chief Sam Gazdziak spoke with Roger Alewel of Alewel’s Country Meats about judging the heavy weight bacons.
Sam Gazdziak: So Roger, what categories were you working on for the [Ameican Cured Meats Competition] this year?
Roger Alewel: Heavyweight bacons.
Gazdziak: For that category, what are some of the things you are looking for? What makes a good bacon really standout for you?
Alewel: Bacon has become an important part of meals that are being put together. You want a well-trimmed piece of meat. You want it to look good appearance-wise, but more important, you want to see some meat in the bacon, and you want to see a nice smoky color and a great flavor.
I picked four pieces of bacon here as a demonstration. These two upfront are well-trimmed. They are nice thick bacon. They have fat to lean, and the color of the inside is excellent. I brought an example of what we don’t want in bacon. This one is very lightly smoked. The inside color is pale, indicating it didn’t get very much salt in it, and this one here is the other extreme. This is extremely dark. It’s way over-smoked, and again, the inside still doesn’t have [much] color in it, but these two are excellent examples of what we are looking for in the bacon industry.
Gazdziak: Alewel’s Country Meats has done very well in the cured meats competitions in the past. When you’re getting products prepared to submit, what are some of the things you do to help get the best products possible.
Alewel: First you have to start off with a quality, fresh product before you start curing. Once you have picked out the bacon, you need to trim it. You have to get it down to where it is square, so when you slice that bacon, it’s going to be even on the ends and everything. Then, the third factor is when you go to the smokehouse, you want to be sure to monitor that the temperature in the smokehouse is correct and that the smoke generator is working and doing a good job. If you follow all those steps, you’re going to come out with winning bacon.