Every month, bacon lovers throughout central Indiana receive a package of delicately sealed and wrapped meat from Goose the Market.
Inside, they might find a pound that’s been flavored with sorghum and apple cider. Maybe it contains a hunk of lamb bacon, enhanced with espresso for a smoky kick.
They could be getting some Manhattan Bacon, spiced with carraway seed, orange zest and Angostura bitters, or a “Hot Toddy,” garnished with Earl Grey tea, bourbon, lemon and honey.
For bacon-philes, it’s the equivalent of Christmas 12 times a year.
“This is bacon-lover’s bacon,” said Corrie Quinn, manager at Goose the Market, an Indianapolis butcher shop.
Everyone’s favorite breakfast food is enjoying an unprecedented popularity in foodie circles. People can buy strips of the meat infused with chocolate, porter and vanilla.
Cupcakes and cookies have been flaked with candied bits of it. Bacon made from lamb, beef and wild boar are all gaining popularity.
Bacon’s takeover has resulted in its insertion into everything from milkshakes to mousse. And for those who love the fatty, greasy, smoky treat, that’s been a welcome development.
“It’s the perfect food. It’s salty and sweet, it has a ton of flavor on its own. It can stand up by itself but also adds a ton of flavor to whatever dish you use it in,” Quinn said. “Bacon has really become part of our popular culture as of late. Everything from candy to soap to T-shirts and hats, people are really getting behind it.”
Bacon has always been a hearty staple food. Fried up and served with eggs and toast, it’s been the traditional start to the day for millions of families.
But in recent years, more people are buying bacon and eating it than ever before. More than $3.7 billion of bacon was sold from June 2012 to June 2013, and more than 882 million pounds was purchased, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.
Both of those numbers represent an increase over the previous year, continuing a trend over the past 10 years.
The public has been introduced to chocolate-covered bacon, bacon-wrapped hot dogs and bacon gumballs. In 2013, Sonic Drive-In unveiled a bacon-peanut butter milkshake.
At the Flying Cupcake Bakery inside Greenwood Park Mall, traditional flavors such as carrot cake, marshmallow and red velvet cake are some of the most popular offerings.
But right near the top of the list is the Hungry Lumberjack. This French toast-flavored cupcake is drizzled with maple syrup cream cheese frosting.
A layer of bacon is crumbled over the frosting to give it a savory bite.
Just Pop In, a Broad Ripple popcorn emporium, uses meat from the Smoking Goose to create it’s “Porkcorn,” a mix of bacon, caramel and cheddar over the kernels. Perfecting the recipe took three months, as co-owner Mandy Selke had to balance out the water and fat content in the bacon to make it through the cooking process intact.
But the result has had customers coming back again and again for the sweet, salty, savory treat.
“It is probably one of our top-selling popcorns. Over the holiday, we couldn’t keep in on our shelves,” Selke said. “We think the whole bacon craze, and that interest in local products, is the catalyst.”
But while fancy flavors and seemingly off-the-wall additives help attract the customers, the meat itself has to be superb.
Bacon describes side meat that’s been cured, either in brine or dry-packed salt, then smoked. Though traditionally it comes from pigs, it can be made from other animals as well.
Goose the Market works with local Indiana producers to get the highest quality meat possible, Quinn said. The hogs, lambs and beef that they purchase for bacon are open-pasture animals, meaning they can forage naturally for food instead of being fed from a trough.
Their diet is all-natural and doesn’t contain any genetically modified materials.
“It doesn’t matter what gild we put on the lily. It’s the main ingredient that’s the most important,” Quinn said.
That philosophy of local and all-natural extends to the flavoring. Chris and Mollie Eley, owners of Goose the Market, created the recipes himself.
Many of them are exclusively for the members of the Bacon of the Month Club.
The meat is then smoked over different wood to give a wide range of flavor. Fruit wood from apple, cherry and pear trees infuses a sugary, floral taste. Old bourbon barrels can be broken down and burned, giving the bacon a caramel tinge.
Hickory, with its sweet, rich, dark smoke, is some of the most common wood used in the process.
“We really look for balance to the end product. Knowing that smoke will add a little sweetness, we look for something spicy to balance it. We want that final product to be something delicious that people fight over for the last bite,” Quinn said.
And the market’s customers are finding unique ways to use that bacon.
Quinn heard from one woman for Thanksgiving who created a lattice of bacon, criss-crossing it together and laying it over her turkey while it roasted.
“The turkey helped it self-baste, so it was nice, crisp and juicy. Then the turkey got all of those delicious bacon flavors,” she said.
Bacon Caramel Popcorn
¼ pound maple-cured bacon, cubed
1 cup whole butter
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 quarts fresh popped popcorn
1. In a small saucepan, render the bacon with ¼ cup of water over medium heat. The water will evaporate. Continue to cook the bacon until it becomes crisp. Drain the bacon and cool on a clean towel.
2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place popcorn in a very large bowl.
3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, maple syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for four minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda, bacon and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
4. Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.
— Recipe from Goose the Market
Pork Filet Wrapped in Beef Bacon
2 pound pork tenderloin, cut into eight 4 ounce medallions
1 bottle Bourbon Barrel Foods teriyaki sauce
1 orange, sliced
1 knob fresh ginger, sliced
1 tablespoon cilantro, rough chopped
8 slices beef bacon
4 sprigs rosemary, cut in half
3 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1. Combine half of the teriyaki sauce, orange slices, ginger and cilantro to make a marinade.
2. Marinate the pork medallions for 12 hours.
3. Remove the pork medallions from the marinade and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
4. Wrap each medallion with one slice of beef bacon. Secure each slice of bacon by removing ¾ of the leaves of each piece of rosemary then skewer each filet with the stem of the rosemary, leaving a little out for garnish.
5. Grill each medallion to an internal temperature of 130 degrees.
6. Finish by brushing each medallion with teriyaki sauce and whole grain mustard.
— Recipe from Goose the Market
Warm Spinach Salad with Lamb Bacon Vinaigrette
Ingredients for the dressing
8 ounces lamb bacon, ¼-inch dice
1 shallot, peeled and sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
2/3 cup black currant vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
Ingredients for the salad
1 lb baby spinach, washed and stemmed
4 ounces Gorgonzola Naturale
1 each hardboiled egg yolk, chopped
½ cup toasted pecans
½ cup black currants
1. In a medium sauce pan, heat the lamb bacon and 2 tablespoons of water over medium high heat. Cook until water is dissolved, the bacon is rendered and becomes crispy.
2. Remove the bacon leaving behind the renderings in the pan. Saute the shallot and garlic until tender then deglaze the pan with vinegar half at a time. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon in between each addition.
3. Reduce heat and add the honey and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
4. In a medium bowl dress the spinach with the hot dressing and combine until the spinach becomes wilted.
5. Plate on warm salad plates and finish with the crisp lamb bacon, gorgonzola naturale, egg yolk, toasted pecans and black currants. Serve immediately.
— Recipe from Goose the Market
Coconut‐Bacon Bars with Poplar Whipped Mascarpone
Ingredients for the crust
2²/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1 cup oats
3 ounces dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Ingredients for the bar
16 ounces applewood smoked bacon, diced into ¼-inch pieces
13 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups coconut flakes, toasted
1½ cups hazelnuts, toasted and crushed
20 ounces sweetened condensed milk
Ingredients for the garnish
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
2 ounces Hickoryworks Poplar Syrup
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. On a 13 inch-by-18 inch half sheet pan bake the bacon until crisp.
2. Remove bacon from pan and drain grease. Keep a thin layer of drippings on the pan for the crust. Reserve the remainder for future use.
3. In a mixing bowl combine the graham cracker, butter, oats, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Combine until mixed well and pulls together.
4. Press the mixture onto your sheet pan. Cover with the bacon, chocolate, coconut, hazelnuts and drizzle with the sweetened condensed milk. Bake at 350 for about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for an additional 20 minutes and cut into desired number of portions.
5. Whip together the Mascarpone and poplar syrup. Plate while cookie is warm and garnish with whipped mascarpone and additional chopped hazelnuts.
— Recipe from Goose the Market