Winstons Irish Bacon Review

Winstons Irish Bacon ReviewWhen you request bacon in the US, you know what you are going to get. Smoked/cured thin slices of pork belly, with streaks of fat parallel to streaks of delicious meat.

Unless you request “Canadian Bacon” which is neither Canadian nor bacon, but very lean sliced pork loin,  cured and smoked. Outside of the US, “American style” bacon is often referred to as “streaky bacon.”

Not so in other parts of the world, where you can be faced with a number of choices.  In the UK and other remnants of the Empire, where you will most often be served what is referred to in the US and Canada as “back bacon,” thin slices of smoked (or not) pork cut from both the loin and a small bit from the belly.  It is cut from the same part of the hog as pork chops.

Order a “full breakfast” in England, and it will come with a couple slices of back bacon, sausage, eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, and toast. Maybe a grilled tomato. Depends on what part of the country you are in.

All this to say, in my recent visit to the mecca of foodie groceries, Jungle Jims, there are many choices of bacon to put in your cart, including a number of selections not made from pork. (My father was a habitual beef bacon consumer. It’s very lean, pretty chewy, but very tasty).

I picked up a pack of “Winston’s Irish Bacon,” which, to my surprise, is made here in Chicago. I’ve never seen it before, but apparently, Winston’s is a fairly old company specializing in Irish foods, they are wholesale processors, but also have a couple of markets and a restaurant.

Anyhow, Winstons bacon is delish.  I’m eager to track down some of their sausages and whatever else they got. Their factory/store is on the far south side of Chicago, but probably worth a drive. I’m a sucker for new sausage suppliers!

In the end, quality bacon at my house nearly always leads to a gooey fried egg sammich. Today was no exception!

Winstons Irish Bacon Review

In the pan, fried for 2 minutes a side


Winstons Irish Bacon Review

My fried egg sammich


Winstons Irish Bacon Review

Chicago factory and retail outlet


Winstons Irish Bacon Review

Winstons Irish Bacon Review

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Applewood Farms Bacon Review – Aldi In House Brand

Applewood Farms Bacon ReviewI’ve been a little hotter than usual for bacon. For about a year, I’ve been buying whichever pre-cooked brand was on sale.

Seemed like a no muss, no fuss opportunity to me, and often a lot cheaper than raw bacon.

Lately, I’ve noticed that most all of the pre-cook brands the slices are nearly translucent, and I like my bacon a little thicker.

Of course, there’s a certain joy of having that aroma waft through the house; it was one of the few ways I could motivate my ex to get out of bed. (At home anyway).

Applewood Farms is the in-house brand for bacon, sausages and ham at Aldi stores, a global chain of discount grocers. Aldi is part of the same German company that owns US lux foods retailer, Trader Joes.

I’ve reviewed a lot of Aldi products, including  braunschweiger, smoked sausage, ham, pre-cooked bacon, summer sausage, pizza and many others.

This bacon was more than satisfactory. Thick enough, flavorful, nice smokey aroma. I cooked the whole package at once, I bake bacon  (350 for about 12 minutes) on cookie sheets (some people cover their sheets with foil for quicker clean up).  There’s no flipping, less shrinkage, and your slices stay perfectly flat.

So I was happy. I’ll buy it again, as long as it stays price competitive, and with Aldi, you never have to worry about that.

Aldi contracts with established manufacturers to make products to its own recipes and specifications.  This bacon is produced in the Elkhart, Indiana plant (pictured below) of Plumrose USA, the American division of the European food company of the same name. Plumrose USA was sold in the past few weeks to the giant South American meat processor JBS.

They paid $230 million and picked up five plants and two distribution centers in the deal.

What did I do with my bacon? Why made a monster BLT of course!

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Cooked Aldi Bacon

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Impressive BLT

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Plumrose Indiana Plant



Applewood Farms Bacon Review

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Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

Food Club Liquid Eggs ReviewI’ve never tried “liquid eggs” (industry term: breaker eggs), but I see them used quite a bit at charity breakfasts I attend. I do recall having powdered (dehydrated) eggs, which have been around for more than a hundred years.

My experience was on Scout trips – the eggs were pretty awful.  So I set out to do my home experience, and picked up a pint carton of Food Club (TopCo) brand “Great Egg0-Spectations.” The carton promises “contains 99% real egg product. (See full ingredient list at the end of this post).

I can see why they use these at the mass breakfasts, or in commercial bakeries and restaurants. Speed, little waste, consistent product. (As you know, “fresh” eggs can vary in taste and size).

So these were a buck. The carton contains the equivalent of eight eggs. 3 T equal 1 egg.  A reason for buying them would not be value, certainly at any store in any given week, you can find at least one brand at around 50 cents a dozen. Of course, you can pay up to $6 a dozen from the same display case, and obviously, people must buy them or they wouldn’t be there, but I sure don’t get the idea of $6 eggs.

I assumed I could use the product as I would fresh eggs, so I set out to make scrambled eggs, adding a dollop of milk to my mix, cooking them in a non-stick skilled at medium heat. They turned out just fine. Tasted like…………….spoiler alert……………scrambled eggs!

Food Club brand is part of Topco, which is based in suburban Chicago, and started as a co-op of producers in the 1940s. They sell thousands of different products (frozen, refrigerated and dry)  under their own brand names, to a wide variety of retailers. They also produce their products in three different value segments, from a economy type product to an added value kind.

My conclusion is that liquid eggs are tasty and convenient. Would I buy them again? Nah, like I said above, I really don’t “get it” for home use. Plus the carton instructs you to use in a week, and most people keep fresh eggs around for weeks without a care. If you’re really concerned with product longevity, powdered eggs can last 5-10 years, depending on the brand and storage method.

Do you use liquid eggs at home? How do you use them? Do you have a preferred brand?



Food Club Liquid Eggs Review



Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

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Appleton Farms Fully Cooked Bacon Review

Appleton Farms Bacon ReviewAppleton Farms is one of the in-house brands for the Aldi grocery chain.  I’ve written a lot of posts about Aldi products, which I generally find to be of good quality and terrific value.  Their fully cooked bacon is no exception, a package of which sells generally for less than two bucks.  I’ve become a convert to pre-cooked, you can usually find one brand or another on sale for less than the raw product, plus you know exactly what you are getting, meaning, you don’t open a package and find pieces that are mostly fat, mostly broken and the like.  There is some really crappy bacon out there.

This was flavorful and the slices come staggered on wax paper, so they are easy to remove.  You can serve nice intact whole slices, or chop/cut as desired.

The contract manufacturer that Aldi uses for this product, is Shelby County Cookers, out of  Harlan, IA, about  70 miles west of Des Moines and 10 miles north of I-80.

Shelby because a subsidiary of Monogram Foods a couple years ago.  Monogram has its own brands and makes some licensed product, too. They are big in the meat snack business.

Picture of the Shelby plant below.  Yes, I’d buy this again.

Appleton Farms Bacon Review Aldi








Appleton Farms Fully Cooked Bacon Review

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Little Caesars Bacon Crust Pizza Review

Little Caesar Bacon Crust ReviewA million years ago, I owned a business in Iowa, and every Friday nite, my key employee, his wife and baby would come over to our house, where we’d fire up a movie on the 7′ Sony big screen, and order a couple of pizzas from Little Caesars.  At the time, LC’s “gimmick” was you got two pizzas in a single package for a reduced price.   It wasn’t particularly good, or bad, per se, the incentive was simply the two-fer, and we could have a pizza for each couple with their respective choice in toppings.

Today, the major chains are all about dazzling us with flavor combos as an attempt to retain our business in light of upstarts offering higher quality ingredient pies with an even wider variety of toppings.  Over the past ten years, the industry has progressed from “butter brushed” crusts, to cheese-stuffed, and now….you name your poison, whether it’s a salted pretzel crust or siracha kissed, or a dozen things in between, one or the other of the chains has got a pie to lure you in.

The latest offering from Little Caesars, in their “hot and ready” program (a selection of pies is always ready, you don’t have to call and order), is the ‘bacon-wrapped” crust deep dish.  Actually two smaller square pies, with every piece boasting a corner edge, and the ad copy claiming “three and a half feet of bacon” on every pie.

The standard “hot and ready” version comes topped with pepperoni.

I have to admit, I’m not a real fan of LC’s, it’s just not a very exciting pizza, and I’m never really a fan of deep dish.  But of course, I owed it to you to try the new bacon crust.   It goes for $12, whereas their ‘regular’ hot and ready deep dish is $8, and their always available regular hot and ready pizzas are $5 each.

Although you can order the bacon-wrapped pie during any opening hour, it flips into “hot and ready” status at 4 PM.

So how was it?

A mess of processed pork on a buttery-flavored crispy deep dish crust.  It wasn’t terrible. While I will never figure out how they get the bacon to stick to the edge of the crust, I don’t have to, I just have to marvel at it, and enjoy the smoky porcine taste in every bite.

Ordinarily I’d say, because of the “value,”  Little Caesars is a good way to feed a gaggle of kids, cheaply and quickly, but if you’re concerned about their nutritional intake, best skip the bacon crust, which must clock in at a ton of “too much” in the nutritional info, tho it is not listed on the company’s website.  Their regular pepperoni deep dish offers you 400 calories per slice, nearly half from fat calories, 670 g of sodium and 41 carbs.  So you can amp up the fat and sodium when you add the bacon.

I don’t have to watch my girlish figure anymore, so I enjoyed it, and might even get it again, but I think it is an LTO, so you will have to watch for availability.

The only downside with the one I purchased, as evidence from the photos, is the oven was apparently a little over enthusiastic – lots of char on this sucker.

Little Caesar Bacon Crust Review

As presented in box


Little Caesar Bacon Crust Review

Close up to show bacon crust




Little Caesars Bacon Crust Pizza Review

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Jones Canadian Bacon Review

Jones Dairy Canadian BaconGrowing up within spitting distance of Canada, I never gave much thought to “Canadian Bacon” as a kid;  we had it quite frequently, I just figured my parents smuggled it in from Ontario like they used to have to buy bootleg margarine in Michigan. I rarely buy it for home use, I generally find it is pretty flavorless, and not a great value.  Maybe,  McDonald’s product, which is about as unbacony as a product can be has also put me off a bit.

As I progressed through the years, I came to understand what we call “Canadian Bacon” in the US is not Canadian at all, but rather a product similar in taste and texture to ham.  And here’s where it gets really confusing:  ham comes from the butt of a hog, bacon from the belly, and Canadian Bacon from a pork loin.  Whew.  Canadian bacon is usually leaner than ham, and lacks the sweeteners ham is sometimes cured with.

“Real” “Canadian Bacon” is called ‘back bacon’ up thataways, and “streaky bacon” in Canada’s motherland of jolly old England and other points in the crumbling empire.

And that product is generally more flavorful, with better texture, than most anything sold in the US, save for premium brands, no matter what ‘country’ label it has on it.  In fact, hasn’t most processed pork in the US become a real disappointment?  Whether you buy chops a tenderloin or roast, most mass market pork in the US tastes like nothing. At least to me.  If I want real pork flavor, I’ll buy fresh from a farmer;  some Carolina and Virginia hams are spectacular as well.

Anyway, back to the subject.   Jones Dairy Farms is a meat producer located in Ft. Akinson, Wisconsin.  They’v been selling processed pork products to the masses for over a hundred years.  I’m not sure how wide-spread their distribution is, but they have a product locator on their website.  I punched in zip codes at both ends of the country and found outlets.

(By the way, if you’re ever in Ft. Akinson on a Friday nite, (118 miles from the Sears Tower, 25 miles from Madison), there’s an exceptional fish fry at the Fireside).

Anyway, a package of Jones Dairy Canadian Bacon headed up in my fridge as a result of it being in the ‘scratch and dent’ bin at my local grocery.  It was a buck and a half as opposed to a regular price in the range of $4.50 – $5.00, the equivalent of around $12 a pound.

How was it?  As expected.  Reminiscent of mild ham.  Slightly sweet.   The ingredient list, if you’re interested: Cured with Water, Potassium Lactate,Salt, Sugar, Natural Flavor, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

I’d be interested in trying their Old Fashioned Hickory Smoked Whole Ham.


Jones Dairy Canadian Bacon

Bacon, from package, prior to heating









Jones Canadian Bacon Review

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Scott Petersen Bacon Review

Scott Petersen Bacon ReviewScott Petersen, part of the Specialty Foods Group of Owensboro, KY, is an old line meat manufacturer from Chicago marketed nationwide. The brand makes hot dogs, bologna, lunch meat, and bacon.   I haven’t tried the hot dogs, a line that is solely of the skinless variety, and while they do have an all beef frank, the ingredients of the others put me off.  Example?  Scott Petersen Hot Links:  Mechanically separated chicken, beef salivary glands, lymph nodes and fat (cheek and tongue), water, pork, beef, seasonings and preservatives).

Bacon is available in both regular and thick sliced packaging.  I had a hankering for a breakfast sandwich, and prepared the bacon in two different manners, pan fried and baked.  Mrs. Burgerdogboy prefers her bacon oven baked, tho I am not sure why, it is surely not her commitment to a healthy lifestyle; she eschews any approach to that particular kind of living.   But I oblige, regardless. The end result is obvious, baked bacon tends to be ‘leaner’ as an end product, and certainly flatter in appearance, but the bacon fried in its own fat tends to be more flavorful albeit rather disorganized in appearance.  (See pics below).

In any case, the sandwich was a success, consisting of toasted, buttered Italian bread, two basted eggs, bacon, and American singles. As the yolks are soft when I create these, they can be rather messy to eat, but for me, that’s part of the fun!

What about the bacon?  As you well know, prices are through the roof lately, with value brands fairly close in price to premium ones, so you might as well splurge on the good stuff. I found the Petersen rather flavorless, regardless of cooking method.  It likes any sort of punch from seasoning, and there is virtually no hint of smoke.  It won’t be on my regular shopping list.

Scott Petersen Bacon Review

Baked in oven


Scott Petersen Bacon Review

Pan Fried


Scott Petersen Bacon Review

Breakfast Sandwich





Scott Petersen Bacon Review

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Portland, OR – Mac! Mac and Cheesery

Mac! Mac and CheeseryI had an urge to roast coffee today, and so I stopped by my bean purveyor of choice, Mr. Green Beans, on N. Mississippi in Portland.

On the way out, I noticed a new next door neighbor (new to me), which is called Mac! Mac and Cheesery, and I thought to myself, “Self, you’re on your way home, and who loves mac n cheese more than Mrs. Burgerdogboy? No one!). So I ambled in and perused the menu.

Myriad of combos await the discerning m & c lover, with “original” topping the list, but you may avail yourself of numerous ingredients to blend in – whether your taste buds tingle for truffles, or you salivate for “Southwestern”, have a vice for vegan, or brag about bacon.

I went with original with bacon, noting that the “b” word at our house is spoken in hushed tones, we hold it in such high regard.

I texted Mrs. BDB (not while driving!) that I was on my way home with a yummy, and delivered it to her in her home office.

She loved it, not only because it’s great mac n cheese, and had delicious pork parts in it, but also because it resembles the “baked kind” in that the top is sprinkled with bread crumbs and slightly browned.

I was offered a morsel or two, and I believe this to be a fine product, worthy of your attention. The shop also has sandwiches, burgers, and dogs, which will require an in-house visit for a complete and thorough examination.

Did I mention they have cocktails? I did not. They do. When Mrs. BDB and I get in there for a sit down repast, I predict a long and enjoyable day.

Now I’m off to roast coffee beans.

Mac! Mac and Cheesery, Portland, Oregon

Mac! Mac & Cheesery on Urbanspoon

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Regional Brands, Hoffy, Part 4, Hoffy Bacon

Hoffy Brand BaconCracked open a one pound package of Hoffy Premium Bacon for breakfast this morning; like most people these days, Mrs. BDB and I are bacon crazy, and we’re constantly on the look out for bacon that suits our palate.

Hoffy gets about 18 slices to the pound, thicker than some, thinner than others.  We liked it.

It’s my own personal conclusion that Hoffy is building their reputation and product line based on creating product that caters to the widest possible audience, and that’s a good thing.

The basis for my opinion is fairly straight forward: quality products, good taste, and not burdened with extreme flavors – and by that I mean, the product tastes the way you would expect, rather than having some overpowering flavor imparted from additives.

There is an occasional conflict in the BurgerDogBoy household about how to cook bacon – my personal preference is to fry it in a skillet or on a cast iron griddle on the stove top, and the reason I like doing this is to be able to collect the residual fat left after cooking – to use it in other things I concoct in the kitchen during the week.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy prefers that we bake our pork strips in the oven, and how she does this is to put a bread rack on cookie sheet and pop it in a 350 oven for 20 minutes, and turning and watching after that milestone.

The baking method has its advantages, for sure, less shrinkage, the strips cook up flat and straight, and she insists (OK, I agree with her) that the bacon cooks more evenly.

And thus we baked our Hoffy Bacon this morning.   The first thing one notices when the baking is partially into the process, you get an overwhelming odor sensation of “OMG – there’s PORK cooking!”

That’s right, Hoffy Bacon actually smells and tastes like a bonafide pork product.  It’s relatively lean, and it tastes (in our opinion) like bacon is supposed to taste.

Maybe Hoffy could adopt that tag line you see lately for other products? “Bacon, the way it was meant to be!”

It’s so easy to be disappointed in bacon these days, we’ve purchased on of the largest national brands lately and watched it virtually “melt” into nothingness in the skillet.  Not to mention sticker shock, lately.  I’ve seen a pound package of another brand for $15.  What?  We do like Hoffy comes in a 1 lb package, a lot of bacon these days is packed in 12 oz units.

Congrats on a great product, Hoffy people!  We’ll be regulars.


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Regional Brands, Hoffy, Part 3 – Bacon Dogs

Hoffy Bacon Wrapped Hot DogsOnce upon a time, in the not too distance past, someone, somewhere, decided the city of Los Angeles needed to give its blessing to “an official hot dog for L.A.”

Time passed, the public was lobbied, people voted, and the powers that be proclaimed “the official hot dog of Los Angeles is a bacon-wrapped hot dog!”

And so it was ruled, and so it became the law of the land.

Hoffy seized the opportunity to combine two of their top products from the manufacturing line – high quality hot dogs, and high quality bacon, and produce the first grocery store available bacon-wrapped dogs for the home cook.

We sampled Hoffy’s bacon dogs this week, and are pleased to say the results of our tests…….superb!

Hoffy has taken an over-sized skinless wiener and wrapped it in their excellent bacon, you only need heat in a skillet or on the grill for a delicious and different treat.

What makes it so good?  Well, for Mrs. Burgerdogboy and I, we both like that the bacon took the dog to a new level in flavor, and added a depth to the taste.  The crispiness of the bacon also gives the hot dog some crunch/snap of it’s own, even tho it’s a skinless frank.

Preparing these at home worked best for me when I paid attention to two things:  1) beginning the cooking process with the side of the hot dog DOWN that has the loose bacon end.  That way it won’t unravel at an inopportune time.  The other step I took was to mind the stove during the process, rotating the dog numerous times to insure that the bacon was cooked evenly.  Not paying attention could lead to some lopsidedness in the bacon doneness factor.

An excellent product, Hoffy people.  We’re sure it’s going to be a huge success, in Los Angeles, and wherever Hoffy products are sold.

If you can’t find them in your local store, ask the store to stock them regularly.  While you are waiting, order some from Hoffy’s site online.

Here’s a pic of what these bacon babies look like just before consumption!

Hoffy Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

(Ed. Note: products were furnished to us by manufacturer).

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