Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Aside of bacon: Lady Gaga continues the meataphors

A little over a week ago, little Steffi Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga) draped her flanks in flank steak and appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards stage to make a statement about the U.S. military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. What precisely that statement is, we're not sure--but we are pretty darned sure that she's against banning gays from serving openly in the military, and that she's pro-carnivore. Also, we're pretty sure that in this anti-DADT address, she's wearing Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko's glasses.

Rasher Review: SUBWAY B.L.T.

Sometimes when you're longing for something, the universe steps in and gives you a sign. This evening, we found ourselves famished with no dinner plans, watching Where the Red Fern Grows on Encore Family (Dave Matthews played the dad--ergh) when a commercial for Subway's BLT popped up on screen. Piled to the heavens with succulent tomatoes, verdant lettuce and savory bacon, the universe spoke to us through a five-dollar beacon from above. So, we grabbed our money and schlepped to the discount-sandwich joint to procure our meals. I mean, who are we to argue with the universe?

It turns out, sometimes the universe is a cruel bastard. Look at the sandwich above. Now, look at the pathetic sub to the right. Sad. We counted seven strips of bacon, but man, that had to be the saddest collection of pork planks ever--so think they'd float away on a light breeze. We don't think we need to say how disappointing the eating experience actually was; the evidence of the bread overpowering the wussy meat slices is there in the frame. We'd have to order triple bacon to even taste it.

Now, please excuse us while we make dessert: bacon. What else?

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Good news, baconeers: Crystal Bowersox, the American Idol contestant that SHOULDA won (no offense, Lee) is one of us. Witness this tweet of a few hours ago:

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Can't Believe It's Not Bacon: HICKORY INCENSE

If there's a smell anywhere near as enthralling as the aroma of frying bacon, it is the scent of pork being cured through the magical power of smoke. If you agree, do yourself a favor and drive--or fly, hitchhike, whatever you need to do--to a little town in central Wisconsin called Wittenberg. Despite a pretty teeny population (about 1,100 if everyone's home that day), there's a decent number of attractions to hold your interest. There are charming murals adoring scores of town buildings. Diane's Restaurant serves up some of the best hot java to ever fill a mug.

And, of course, there's Nueske's.

Nueske's is the mecca of cured meats. Bacon's the star attraction, to be sure, but there's also sausages, smoked turkey, and ham tempting enough to bring a vegan to his knees. You could lose hours on end wandering through the shop, marveling at the stunning array of meats and gourmet foodstuffs--and oh, the smell. Just wandering through for a 30-minute stretch is enough to infuse your clothes and hair with the rich, earthy scent of applewood smoke. We think Heaven's atmosphere is air pumped directly from the inside of the shop, it's that tantalizing.

Unfortunately, you can't just go to the household products aisle at Target and pick up a Glade Plug-In that smells like bacon. Oh, but wouldn't it be marvelous if you could turn the key in your front door and open it to be greeted by the tantalizing odor of wood-smoked bacon? That's what we were hoping for when we procured the insanely adorable little incense burner pictured here (procured from Albuquerque-based Inciensio de Santa Fe), and a ton of little bricks of natural hickory wood. We've been in love with this company for about a decade now. Instead of the dirty-hippie smell of the chemical-laden cheapo stick incense favored by stoned college kids, these incenses smell like pinion, cedar, juniper, mesquite and--of course--hickory. We logged onto the site and ordered a bigass box of hickory cones. We figured that if we were lucky, flaming those bad boys up would create a reasonable bacon smokehouse facsimile. If not: oh, well--we'd still enjoy the fireplace-like smell of burning wood.

When we inhaled the first wisps of smoke, we exhaled disappointment. The smell was lovely, to be sure, but not very evocative of a bacon smokehouse. But then, when the incense nubs burned down and the smoke cleared, a marvelous thing happened. The campfire smell morphed into the aroma of lingering hickory smoke--just like a smokehouse! Oh, happy occasion--we've discovered a way to have the smell of bacon in our lives 24/7, even when we haven't touched the oven in days!

We've been so delighted by the bacony smell permeating the BDJ barracks that we're going to be needing another box o' hickory bricks. We're thinking of ordering more burners for other rooms (wouldn't this steam engine look fabulous in the lavatory?) so the smell of bacony smoke never leaves our happy nostrils.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


BDJ Labs ventured out last night for dinner--this time, to The Cousins, a new restaurant not very far from our place--and of course, we had to order stuff with bacon on it. The menu said our beef-bacon sammich would be adorned with three strips o' bacon, so that's what we were expecting--instead, we got about SIX. Pay attention, Wendy's, because this is what a bacon burger SHOULD look like. Nice, thick bacon slices--full length, not the sad, thin, truncated rashers atop the Baconator--to create a 1/2-inch layer of pork crowning the beef patty. For a measly $9--not too terribly much more than a Wendy's Baconator value meal--we were treated to a hearty 1/2-lb. Angus burger with a satisfying amount of bacon, and a huge pile of steak fries on the side. It's not quite Kuma's, but it was pretty darned good for a small bit o' cash and a short walk from home. If you're on Chicago's North side, go support this humble little restaurant, and applaud them for giving such good bacon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BACONEWS: Bacon and bloggers, sittin' in a tree...

From msnbc.com: Trying to Create Online Buzz? Just Add Bacon 

Sadly, this item doesn't contain much bacon, other than a mention of our beloved Bacon Hot Sauce. However, it does bring up a good topic: bloggers whoring themselves for free product. While we're frankly disgusted by bloggers that are willing to speak glowingly of products they don't necessarily believe in to get free stuff (we know of one mommy blogger who has a kitchen full of sparkling new appliances and didn't pay a dime for any of them), we are more than willing to review and spout fabulously compliment-laden copy about products we do support and enjoy. Hand-crafted bacon? Send it along--we'll eat it and, odds are, we'll love it. Then, we can write nice things. If you send us crap, we'll write that it's crap. In conclusion, if you stand behind your bacon product and believe that it's truly awesome, then you by all means should send it to us for trying and writing about--we would love to tell our readers about it and share the awesome with them.

Drop us a line here for more information.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


You're looking at the first course of the first satellite dinner hosted by Baconfest Chicago. Tickets for last night's event sold out lightning fast, so BFC had to schedule a second, which is tonight. In case you're one of those lucky people, I am loathe to reveal the entire menu or offer a detailed review for fear of ruining the surprise and delight that Gil Langois of Chalkboard has in store. If you didn't get a ticket, fear not--two more dinners are scheduled in the coming weeks.

I will tell you that my personal highlight last night was this opening dish--a plank of Nueske's bacon leaning against a perfectly roasted scallop, accompanied by preserved watermelon, vanilla mayo and candied Kalamata olives. Normally I hate olives (I refer to them as "the devil's eyeballs"), but dining companion Jenni Grover Prokopy and I agreed that they were tiny little nuggets of awesomeness. From the first sip of Prosecco, to the bacon-laden dessert, the entire menu was perfect--not a wrong note anywhere. We'll leave the details at that--no more spoilers.

Now that we're recovering from our bacon hangover, two things occur to us:
1. Bacon really is the king of all meats. It doesn't take a culinary genius of Langois' caliber to figure out that we've been severely limiting bacon by relegating it to the role of breakfast side dish and sandwich topping for so very long. This plucky little meat product has more tricks up its sleeve than the world's best magician.
2. Pork belly needs to be recognized as a perfectly acceptable cut of meat. I shouldn't have to schlep to a weekend farmer's market, settle for a frozen hunk at a butcher, or beg a hunk off a kindly local chef to cook it up. Fresh pork belly should be available EVERYWHERE, because it should be enjoyed by EVERYONE.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Test #304: Bacon + LAUGHING COW CHEESE

The subject
What exactly is the reason the bovine on the package of Laughing Cow cheese is so tickled? We at BDJ Labs know why. "Ha  ha!" the cow is thinking to herself. "I've conned people into buying these pasty white flavorless wedges of crap! Ha ha moo! They think it's CHEESE! Moo-wah-ha-ha!"

The Laughing Cow wedges shouldn't even be CALLED cheese--it's an insult to dairy products everywhere. We figured the horrid little triangles of blergh could only be improved by wrapping them with bacon and subjecting them to a couple minutes in a hot oven. So, that's exactly what we did...

The results
Nope. Still sucked.

The conclusion: Bacon + Laughing Cow "cheese" = udderly disgusting

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pretty pork: BACON IRON-ONS

The Renegade Craft Fair is in Chicago this weekend, bringing a crap-ton of silkscreened t-shirts, handmade pillows, silkscreened t-shirts, knitted goods, felt dolls, silkscreened t-shirts, whimsical toys, and silkscreened t-shirts to the Windy City. Baconeers in attendance saw many pork-emblazoned items on display. Makes sense--creative minds are fueled by bacon, after all. Keen-eyed Chicago writer Maura Hernandez spotted these nifty bacon-strip iron-ons in the Diffraction Fiber booth. We at BDJ will definitely be ordering some of these babies--our lab coats could use some decoration (besides the grease spots, that is).

Have you seen any nifty handmade bacon goods? Alert us by dropping a line to BDJlabs@gmail.com.

Friday, September 10, 2010

BACONEWS: Bacon rocket flies to the moon!

...well, not really. However, our friends at Rather Good made a noble, valiant attempt, and wrote a rockin' song about it to boot. Call it a bittersweet victory.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Test #303: Bacon + CEVAPCICI

The subject
While Sarah Palin might disagree, we at BDJ labs are huge, huge fans of immigrants. I mean, if it weren't for all the people that swam, flew, rowed, ran, and otherwise made their way into this great land, the American diet would be a flat, featureless landscape of blergh. But, thanks to the various peoples that have come into this country, we have on the menu sushi, tacos, bratwurst, llapingachos, paella, gnocchi, pierogi, bibimbab, jibaritos, naan, and countless other taste wonders we chomp on regularly. One of our favorites in the meat area: cevapcici, or "chevaps." They're humble little Serbian sausages made of beef, lamb, pork, and a crap-ton of garlic. I mean, a lot. Usually served with a roasted-pepper sauce called avjar, cevapcici are meaty marvels that need to make their way into every Yankee's diet. We love them not quite as much as bacon, but close--so we brought the two together and baked the suckers.

By the by, this picture has nothing to do with cevapcici--it just popped up in the image search. While yet again we wonder what the frak is up with Google Images, we dig the image. Thanks, Ameeeee.

The result
Amazing. We're glad we pre-cooked the sausage a tad, otherwise the grease might have gone into the realm of overwhelming, but the end result ended up being just right. The garlic of the cevapcici didn't knock the bacon flavor out of the picture, which was nice--they balanced in a nice dance of spice and smoke and we ate every bite.

The conclusion: Bacon + cevapcici = brilliant


Chicago is in for a pork-filled weekend--on Saturday, Lincoln Hall will play host to the first-ever Chicago Bacon Takedown, an event in which bacon-minded chefs face off against each other to determine which of their dishes is king. Ticketholders get to taste the contestants' wares and decide who deserves to triumph. For the story of how the Bacon Takedown came to be, click here and read the Chicago Tribune article. To get yourself some tickets to the blessed event, you're going to want to go to this here website.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Aside of bacon: The lady's gaga for meat!

Stefani Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga) sure likes attention. With her beefy bikini cover shoot for Vogue Japan, she's gonna get it. It'd be even better if she'd donned strips of bacon, rather than flanking her flanks with flank steak, but oh, well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Test #302: Bacon + LITTLE DONUTS

The subject
The quality of food varies widely, depending on where it's made/sold, and who's making it. White Castle's crappy little burgers, for example, are light years apart from the beefy behemoths available at Kuma's Corner in Chicago. Similarly, there's virtually no comparison between the lovingly made pastries at Bleeding Heart Bakery, and the mass-made lumps at Dunkin Donuts, and (further down) the crusty, wax-coated nuggets of mediocrity available in sacks at the grocery store. We picked up a "trinity" pack (chocolate, powdered and cinnamon) donuts at our local discount retailer and wrapped them in bacon.

The result
This is the first time we did a three-part test--that is, wrapped each flavor in bacon separately, thinking maybe one flavor of donut might stand out. Not so much--each donut was as underwhelming as the next. We had high hopes for the chocolate, believing that (as is the case with many chocolate-covered or -laden test subject) the chocolate would evolve from mediocre to heavenly and velvety; instead, it just turned into melted brown wax. Ick. Cinnamon was probably the best, but that's like saying a kick in the shins is preferable to a boot in the groin--neither would be the bestest option. In the case of these donuts, we recommending leaving the ""pastries"" on the shelf and saving the bacon for more worthy wrapping recipients.

The conclusion: Bacon + little donuts = fair to middlin'

Sunday, September 5, 2010

BACONEWS: Battle over beer 'n bacon

from CNN.com:

New skirmish in battle over beer and bacon

From CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser

The back-and-forth over a campaign ad Rep. Michele Bachmann recently released has become campaign fodder for both Bachmann and her opponent, State Senator Tarryl Clark.

(CNN) - Call it the food fight that won't end.

The Democrat challenging Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota's sixth congressional district is headed to the state fair Thursday. No surprise there: people from across the state make an annual trek to the state fair, which runs through Labor Day.

But State Senator Tarryl Clark's visit comes just days after the Bachmann campaign went up with a television commercial which targets her Democratic challenger for voting to raise taxes on corn dogs, deep fried bacon and beer, popular cuisine at just about any state fair in the Midwest. And both candidates are using a back-and-forth over the ad for their own campaign fundraising.

"It's state fair time and you don't want to hear about politics," says a character in the ad named Jim the Election Guy. "But while you're at the fair, you should know that Tarryl Clark here voted to raise taxes on your corn dog, and your deep fried bacon, and your beer. So if you see Tarryl Clark, while you're at the fair, just ask her: What's up with voting to tax my beer."

The Clark campaign immediately fired back.

"With no record of accomplishment to run on, Michele Bachmann is back on the air with yet another attack ad," said Clark campaign manager Zach Rodvold in a statement. "Contrary to Bachmann's claims – Tarryl consistently fights to hold the line on taxes for over 95 percent of Minnesotans, and voted for deep cuts to the state budget totaling 10 percent in the last two years alone. Unlike Michele Bachmann, Tarryl voted for balanced budgets each of the last four years."

The Clark campaign is now fundraising off the ad.

"Help us fight back against Bachmann's brand of politics – make a contribution today!" says an email to supporters.

The email also claims that the Bachmann attack over raising taxes on corn dogs, deep fried bacon and beer doesn't make sense because "it was the people of Minnesota who voted to increase the sales tax – in order to fund land conservation and clean water."

Bachmann, a two term congresswoman who is a favorite of many conservatives and Tea Party activists, is also fundraising off the commercial.

"She wants to raise taxes on state fair food like corn dogs and beer! It's facts like this that make it crystal clear: we can't afford to allow Tarryl Clark and Nancy Pelosi to defeat me," says Bachmann in an email to supporters.

The Bachmann commercial also apparently included unauthorized state fair logos, which have since been replaced.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Happy International Bacon Day!

International Bacon Day is our Christmas, our Thanksgiving, and our Super Bowl all rolled into one. This is the day upon which people all over the globe celebrate the best food in the history of eating things by consuming mass quantities of salted pork strips. However you commemorate this joyous occasion, we encourage you to send in your stories and share photos of your IBD bacon-alia. You don't have to go batshit bacon crazy by strapping slabs to your feet like this fine lass (click here for the full story of her crazy bacon footwear), but whatever you do, we want to know. Send us the goods at BDJLabs@gmail.com and we'll share with the rest of our BDJ Baconeers.

Friday, September 3, 2010


The product
Hot Pockets have a weird power over many staffers at BaconDuJour. They're not very flavorful, or nutritious, or satisfying, but they keep showing up in the lab freezer. Maybe we're lured in by the convenience (3 minutes in the microwave and boom! nuclear-hot sammich), the price (about a buck per pocket makes for a cheap lunch), but really, we think it's the space-age novelty of the crisper sleeves that turn us on.

Pocket appeal recently increased tenfold when we saw a new bacony flavor in the freezer case: Chicken Bacon Dijon. Look at that picture--sizeable hunks of bacon poking out from the nuggets of chicken, cheesy-dijony sauce, and deletably seasoned crust, who could resist? We ignored the lie put forth by the "Lean Pockets" label (8 g of fat? In one dinky sammich? Uh, no) and purchased enough of these Pockets to go around the lab. Eagerly we sleeved the Pockets, nuked the sumbitches and after letting the sandwiches rest so the filling could cool down from the molten-lava stage, and cut into them.

The results
We sliced the first test sandwich in half and took this picture. Do you see any bacon? We didn't see any bacon--not without poking around in the goo, anyway, and even then it was just a few sad little flecks of the stuff. Nice false advertising, Hot Pockets Corporation. Then, biting in didn't provide much relief--we detected a hint of bacon flavor, but that was it. Wah-wah.

The verdict: 
Move along. No bacon to see here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


If you missed Baconfest Chicago in April, you were deprived of a day-long celebration of salted-pork bacchanalia. Bacon-centric chefs from all over offered up mind-blowing appetizers, entrees, salads, desserts and even drinks loaded up with bacon. The hundreds of people that had flocked to the Stan Mansion in Chi's Logan Square hood woke up the next morning with bacon hangovers (although that didn't stop some BDJ staff from brunching the next door and ordering more bacon). As soon as the hickory and applewood smoke cleared, BFC organizers were thinking about their next big move.

"We'd been talking since April about smaller events to help feature chefs and restaurants that were doing interesting stuff with bacon," says Seth Zurer, one of the masterminds behind BFC. "It took a little time to get the ball rolling, but about a month ago we started chatting with out chefs to see who might want to host."

While Chicago is loaded with chefs that make good use of bacon, Gil Langlois at the world-class Chalkboard eatery is one of the few that really, truly, gets bacon, so his joint was a natural choice for the first BFC dinner. On Sept. 13 and 14, he'll be offering up a special bacon-crazy menu featuring Nueske's bacon, cocktails with Templeton Rye hootch, and other treats to folks gathered to celebrate the glory that is the planet's best food.

"Gil is doing a lot of wild flavor combos that will really push the edges of what we think of as natural accompaniments to bacon," says Zurer, adding that diners can expect wonders like bacon bread pudding and pickled bacon lollipops.

We can't wait. While tickets are sold out to the 9/13 dinner (at which BDJ Labs staff will be in attendance), there's still a little bit of room at the second on 9/14. Click here to grab yours.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Test: #301: Bacon and SWISS ROLLS

The subject
The best things in life aren't always free. Sometimes, they're just really, really cheap.

Take Little Debbie's super-addictive, crackalicious snack cakes. Here it is 2010, and you can still purchase an ENTIRE box (between six to 12 items, usually) of the Tiny Temptress of Taste Treats' morsels for less than two bucks. Great news if you're a budget-minded mom packing desserts into your offspring's lunch boxes, or a hippie who's spent all his food money for the week on a Phish ticket but still desperately requires a palliative for his raging munchies.

Happily, this low price point also is perfect for your loyal BDJ Lab Techs, because after purchasing a box of Diminutive Deborah's Swiss rolls for today's mad bacon experiment, we still had plenty of dough left over to procure--what else?--more bacon (priorities, people). We wrapped some of that precious bacon around some Swiss rolls and baked those fatty mofos right up. Here's how it went...

The result
Not much to look at--the finished result closely resembles a bacon-ensconced Schnauzer turd--but man oh man, are looks in this case deceiving. While Swiss rolls were never our favorite LD delicacy (BDJ staffers are split between the fudge brownies and the nutty bars), we fell ass-over-teakettle in love with the bacon-wrapped roll. The dry cake and waxy coating morphed into a velvety chocogasm of sweet, gooey bacony heaven. Were the transmographied snack cakes not so insanely rich and weighty--and were we not relatively short on test bacon for the week--we might have wrapped up the entire box o' rolls and gone batshit bacon crazy. This is definitely a bacon trick worth pulling out for your next bacon-themed get-together.

The conclusion: Bacon + Little Debbie's Swiss roll = snackeriffic!