A magical food pairing National Hog Farmer/Willie Vogt
Candied bacon was just one of the many ways bacon was prepared at the Bacon and Beer Classic recently in the Twin Cities.

A magical food pairing

Pork farmers know they have one key product that moves the masses – bacon. And it pairs with another popular product quite well.

This blog is being written from the perspective of a consumer. Namely me, editorial director, Farm Progress. I work on National Hog Farmer from time to time, and right now am enjoying some quality work with the industry. But recently I got to engage a key pork product from the perspective of the consumer. Yes, we’re talking bacon.

Perhaps bacon is a kind of “perfect food” ambassador for the meat industry. You hear anecdotal stories of people who tried to be vegetarians, or heaven forbid, Vegans, only to return to the world of quality animal protein thanks to bacon. And there’s an organizer with an event – the Bacon and Beer Classic – that’s hitting at least 11 major cities this year. I got the chance to take part in the event in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

This gathering pairs quality bacon (Hormel and its Black Label brand is a key sponsor) with local craft breweries and restaurants. And the eateries on hand do their best to bring special creations that incorporate bacon.

This bacchanalia of bacon and beer on a hot Saturday is just what the Doctor ordered for a stress-free chance to not only sample the many ways bacon can be included in dishes, but to find that bacon and beer belong together.

I could enjoy the candied bacon (that’s what you see in the photo above). But there was a triple-B grilled cheese sandwich with bacon, brussels sprouts and a bacon jam that, well, required a couple samplings just to make sure we got the actual nuances of what the chef was trying to achieve.

And consider the idea of bacon, jalapeno and cheese wrapped together – a salty, spicy treat on any day.

And the beer...

Along the way, this event attracts local craft brewers, distillers and cider makers to provide samples as part of the ticket price. There were more than 30 local breweries at the Twin Cities event and given the rising number of craft breweries in the market, that too was just a sampling. But the chance to try new brews as well as new ways bacon could be prepared was a treat even when temperatures were in the 90s (the beer did help there).

For non-drinkers an event like this may not have appeal, but even the non-alcohol drinking pork producer knows that food pairings can help propel demand in new ways.

This photo station offered attendees the chance to get a nice photo with a bright sign and if you’re interested that guy in the bacon suit would join you.

I once heard a comedian ask, “would anyone know about water chestnuts without bacon?” It’s true, this magic product of the pig, cured into salty goodness has few equals in the food world. Bacon can improve most any item (except perhaps Rice Krispies – and I’m only saying that because I haven’t tried it).

But as the “pork ambassador” bacon can open doors to conversations with consumers. The many products from pork – that perfectly cooked loin chop, the marinated and grilled tenderloin, and of course ham – all show its versatility. Bacon may be opening culinary doors to consumers, the next step is to make sure they know that this industry provides a quality product that’s safe and raised in a clean environment that provides flavorful, quality protein that’s affordable.

Now, throw in a little beer… well, this consumer is saying that perhaps that doesn’t hurt at all.

You can learn more about the Bacon and Beer Classic at baconandbeerclassic.com.

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