From Saveur Magazine, “Smokin’ Good: The Best Mail-Order Bacons,” September 2011:
There’s a plethora of bacon options at any grocery store, but unless you happen to live near an artisanal curing facility, the best stuff you’re likely to find will come to you via the good old fashioned United States Postal Service. (Or, okay, FedEx.) We fried up rashers of almost every mail-order bacon available; in this Five to Try, we’re highlighting our favorites:
Dreymiller and Kray Beer Bacon (847/688-2271; dreymillerandkray.com) A pale ale brine, followed by applewood smoking, yields a nutty flavor and a sweet finish to this Illinois-made bacon.
From Tasting Table, “A Smoke and a Pint,” June 2011:
A Smoke and a Pint
Beer bacon from a historic local smokehouse
“I like my bacon straight up,” says baconman Ed Reiser.
The owner of the historic Hampshire, Illinois, smokehouse Dreymiller & Kray acknowledges that bacon has a place on burgers and BLTs. But the head of the 82-year-old smokehouse–the only one within hundreds of miles to still smoke with 100 percent whole logs–prefers the flavors of his meats undiluted.
Unless the bacon’s accoutrement is beer, as Dreymiller & Kray’s newest product is a beer-soused bacon made with Goose Island’s Belgian-style pale ale, Matilda.
The meat is brined in the Goose Island brew, salt and spices, then smoked over apple wood for at least 15 hours. The result is bacon that exudes a whiff of malty sweetness and that fills the smokehouse with the scent of the beer, according to Reiser.
Buy Matilda bacon ($11 per pound) at Provenance Food & Wine, Fox & Obel orTreasure Island, and use it in sandwiches, salads or savory dishes. For the best results, we suggest cooking it over low-to-medium heat, as the sugars from the beer lead to it darkening quicker than most bacon.
As for the suggested beverage pairing–well, that’s a bit obvious, isn’t it?
From Sky Full of Bacon, July 2010 (excerpt):
I wish I could show you how splendidly atmospheric the smoke house is…but of all the smoke houses I’ve seen, from Susie-Q’s to Calumet Fisheries to Smitty’s in Texas, this has to be the pitch-blackest, virtually impossible to photograph unless you had a bank of klieg lights. So he explained its operation as I peered into its inky depths.
The racks, which are suspended from the ceiling on a track system (also used to move sides of beef around the building), can hold a total of 800 pounds of bacon at a time, which will spend a full 24 hours cold-smoking in the smoke house, being brought up to 140F at various points to meet government regulations. (They keep temperature records on every batch, and are inspected daily to ensure that things are running properly.) The coals are fed into a moon-shaped firepit at the bottom.
Last year, they made 23,000 pounds of bacon, which by my estimate, would be about 230 pounds per resident of Hampshire annually if they weren’t selling most of it elsewhere by now. I’ve had it before and it’s really nice stuff, good quality pork (ruby-red like the stuff I make at home) and with a subtle smoke and salt flavor. If you haven’t bought bacon from a butcher shop that smokes their own— Paulina, of course, being another one in Chicago— you really need to see how much better and cleaner it tastes than standard industrial bacon.
From Wining, Dining, and Lying, April 2010:
Next on our epic journey was my personal favorite regular bacon (as in, not from a restaurant) from Dreymiller and Kray. Like the Nueske’s bacon, Dreymiller’s was applewood smoked; however, this bacon did not have the same overly assertive smoked taste that I wasn’t particularly fond of with Nueske’s. Rather this one, the applewood smoke taste blended in the background and really let the delicious (and it is delicious) bacon flavor shine through.
For those of you who do like a more asssertive smoke, they also make a hickory smoked bacon (although they didn’t have any with them). I also don’t think that this one was quite as salty as Nueske’s which was kind of nice. The guy working the stand was awesome, and he even invited us out on a tour of their bacon making facilities (out near Elgin) because of Michelle’s quest to get as much possible free stuff.
Although both bacons that I had from the vendors were great, to my taste, I give the edge to Dreymiller’s and Kray (in fact, I bought some of their bacon when I returned).
From Chicago Magazine, July 2007:
DREYMILLER & KRAY
Heaven is a ripe heirloom tomato, crisp lettuce, and Dreymiller & Kray bacon on toasted sourdough. Nestled in the northwest corner of Kane County, this old-fashioned butcher shop dates from 1929. The remote location probably explains why word about owner Ed Reiser’s cured and smoked meats has only lately begun to get around.
Cut thick, and smoked for at least 15 hours over either hickory or applewood, his bacon marries deep smoke flavor with a subtle sweetness. Some folks know him simply as the Bacon Man, but Reiser is no one-trick pony: he also turns out a fine smoked pheasant, pork chops, ribs, and hams cured with honey from a nearby producer, plus corned beef and an array of fresh, smoked, and dried sausages.
In Chicago, Fox & Obel and Treasure Island carry Dreymiller & Kray products including the bacon (the business also takes orders over the phone and through its Web site). But if ever there was a reason to drive miles past corn and soybean fields, this is it. 140 S. State St., Hampshire; 847-683-2271