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That's some smoky bacon

February 11, 2010 |  8:08 am

L1050078 Rain was pouring down when the doorbell rang. “Something in this package smells like it’s burning," the UPS driver told me as he handed over the bulky package. I checked the return address. "You know why? It's hickory-smoked bacon from Tennessee!" I said. And does it smell smoky!

I’d called Benton's last week to see what happened to the order I’d put together with several friends. “Mr. Benton is in the smokehouse smoking it now,” the voice on the other end of the phone told me. Great! The bacon is so famous, they sometimes run out of it for weeks on end. 

My husband had used the last of our Benton’s bacon to make Bacon Dashi with Potatoes & Clams from the Momofuku cookbook by David Chang (Clarkson Potter, New York, $40). Although I loved the flavors in the dish, I thought using a pound of that sublime hickory-smoked pork belly to make a double recipe of bacon dashi was a waste of good bacon. My husband, of course, didn’t agree, but promised he'd lay in a new supply.

And so now, our entire kitchen smells like great smoky bacon as two big 13-pound slabs sit there ready to be divvied up. I’ve been hooked on Mr. Benton's bacon ever since we ordered our first batch several years ago.

You can order the bacon vacuum-packed and thick-sliced (minimum order 4 pounds), or get an entire slab. Shipping is by UPS, and a $3 handling and packaging charge is added to the UPS shipping quote.

We’ve now got enough for a summer’s worth of BLTs or corn chowders. If it lasts that long.

Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, 2603 Highway 411, Madisonville, TN 37354; (423) 442-5003. Thick-sliced bacon, $5.25 per pound; slab bacon, $4.59 per pound. Shipping (at least on my order) works out to just over $1 per pound.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Photo credit: S. Irene Virbila