If you’ve read our review of Q Fanatic, you understand our respect for their BBQ-master, Charlie Johnson. Working from his suburban strip-mall fortress in remote Champlin, Minnesota, the man turns out some of the best barbecue in the Midwest — and now, he’s working on bacon.
Last week, he dropped a couple varieties off at the Heavy Table HQ. The first is fairly conventional slab bacon. It handled and tasted superb, a bit more like lardon than American thick-cut bacon — tender, rich in pork flavor, sunset red in color after cooking. The stuff pulled apart easily, and would be absolutely killer as a bacon-bit in salads, twice-baked potatoes, homemade ramen, and the like. Johnson writes: “The chunk was double smoked. The second time around I smoked it with the ribs at a higher temp for 5 more hours. That’s why it’s so tender. It was an experiment.” Theory: Double smoking makes tender bacon. Experiment: Double smoke it. Conclusion: Totally.
The second variety was pre-sliced and resembled Canadian bacon in terms of its texture. It had, however, a clean, sweet smoked ham aftertaste that was addictive and transportive — maybe most directly to a north country logging camp in the 1870s. Johnson writes: “The slices were dry cured like the chunk for 10 days with my rub and brown sugar, then smoked on low, low heat, cooled and sliced. Thick and thin. It is mostly pretty lean, almost like prosciutto in some pieces. We are selling it in grilled home made slab bacon sandwiches, sliced thicker. Nice with some BBQ sauce.”
Pinning Johnson down on pricing and availability was tough, so we recommend you call Q Fanatic for yourself (763.323.6550) to see where they stand on the bacon front. Or, if you happen to enjoy the taste of first-rate BBQ, just drive out there and roll the dice. In a worst-case scenario, you’ll be having espresso-sauced ribs and pulled pork sandwiches for dinner.