Pork-fect places to celebrate International Bacon Day (or any day)

by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted on August 29th, 2014

Virginia has always loved its pork; look no further than the country ham, one of the state’s culinary calling cards, for evidence of that.

But it was more than ham that was eaten. In the first salvo of the Snout To Tail movement in English-speaking America, colonists ate just about every part of the pig they could, and what wasn’t eaten fresh was salted and smoked to preserve for a future meal.

Like bacon.

Bacon was no stranger to early Virginians; the cut is one of the oldest in meat history, and the English who came here in 1607 (pigs came to the Jamestown Colony, too) were already intimately knowledgeable with it. Bacon was meat for the masses as it was easy to produce and affordable.

And it is still loved today. In fact, since 2000 the Saturday before Labor Day has been observed as International Bacon Day.

We can’t think of a better occasion than to plan a trip across the commonwealth to try some bacon-centric dishes (some of our favorites are listed below) and grab a rasher or two from folks who cure their own to take back home and enjoy.

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THESE RESTAUANTS ARE MAKIN’ BACON

Looking for a bacon fix? Here are some of our favorite dishes which incorporate that sinful, sultry, salty flavor in the mix:

 

APPLE BUTTER & BACON MILKSHAKE

A creamy concoction of complimentary flavors like rich and complex apple butter and salty, savory bacon

3Way Café
216 Plume St., Norfolk
757-625-3929

 

Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots from The Public House!

Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots from The Public House!

BACON-WRAPPED TATER TOTS

Cheesey housemade tater tots are wrapped in bacon and served up sizzling hot with housemade chili ketchup.

Want to try these at home? Still chef/owner Mike Farrell shares his recipe with us below.

Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas
50 Court St., Portsmouth
757-332-7222

also offered at Still’s sister restaurant, The Public House:

The Public House Victuals & Libations
1112 Colley Ave., Norfolk
757-227-9064

 

This pig fits in nicely at Jackson 20.

This pig fits in nicely at Jackson 20.

B. E. L. T.

This bountiful brunch sandwich features bacon, an over-easy egg, lettuce, and a fried green tomato on toasted brioche

Jackson 20
480 King St., Alexandria
703-842-2790

 

CHICKEN ‘N WAFFLE

Crispy fried chicken topped with a fried egg adorns a bacon-studded waffle and a dressed bed of salad greens, then served with Kim Kim Hot Sauce (a Virginia’s Finest product) and maple syrup

Brookville Restaurant
25 W. Main St., Charlottesville
434-202-2791

 

GRILLED CORN & CRAB BISQUE

A rich bisque made with grilled corn, crab and hickory-smoked bacon from Virginia artisan butchery The Rock Barn

Zynodoa Restaurant
115 E. Beverley St., Staunton
540-885-7775

 

Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint

Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint

THE ELVIS BURGER

Decadent is an understatement; burger topped with peanut butter, mayonnaise, applewood-smoked bacon and cheese

Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint
80 S. Main St., Harrisonburg
540-433-5225

and

210 Market St. Roanoke
540-342-0328

 

HELL SANDWICH

This fiery sandwich features bang bang bacon, fried mac-and-cheese, Thai dragon pepper salad and ghost pepper sauce

BBQ Exchange
102 Martinsburg Ave., Gordonsville
540-832-0227

 

THE HOG DOG

Bacon-wrapped jumbo beef hot dog, deep fried, and topped with hand-pulled pork, barbecue sauce and cole slaw

HogsHead Café
9503 West Broad St., Richmond
804-308-0281

 

HOUSE MADE NOODLES

A brothy dish of housemade noodles with house-cured bacon lardons, mustard greens and a potlikker broth comprised of greens, vinegar and pork; topped with freshly-grated pecorino cheese.

Pasture Restaurant
416 E. Grace St., Richmond
804-780-0416

 

MAC DADDY SPECIALTY PIZZA

Oven baked mac-and-cheese topped with cheddar and bacon and olive oil parmesan sauce

Fork in the Market
32 Market Square, Roanoke
540-400-0644

 

OVER-THE-TOP MAPLE BACON CUPCAKE

This tall, cylindrical sweet is comprised of a Virginia maple syrup cake stuffed with a maple cream filing and topped with milk chocolate icing and bits of caramelized brown sugar-pepper bacon. It is available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Extraordinary Cupcakes
1220-C Richmond Rd., Williamsburg
757-645-2122

 

OYSTERS ROCKAFELLER

A classic rendition of the venerable favorite: oysters in the half-shell topped with a rich mixture of bacon, cheese and spinach then baked until golden crowned and bubbling

Rockafeller’s Restaurant on Rudee Inlet
308 Mediterranean Ave., Virginia Beach
757-422-5654

 

PIG CANDY

A sweet and savory addictive snack of bacon coated and cooked in maple syrup, cayenne and raw sugar

Primland
2000 Busted Rock Rd., Meadows of Dan
276-222-3800

Station 2

Station 2

CLASSIC STATION 2

This wonderfully crafted burger starts with 100 percent Virginia-grown beef from Buffalo Creek Beef in Lexington chargrilled to order and placed atop an artisan bun baked with spent grain from Virginia brewer Devils Backbone. Garnished with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle chips and a choice of cheese, the icing on the cake is – you guessed it, crispy bacon.

Station 2
2016 East Main St., Richmond
804-249-4702

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BRING HOME THE BACON

Here’s a list of places to bring home the bacon; the Virginia bacon, in fact.

These smaller producers craft their edible works of art right here in the Old Dominion.

Some places you may just have to go in and order right from the counter, while others ship. Some produce a good amount of quantity, while others do so on a smaller scale, meaning supplies may be limited.

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Belmont Butchery
15 N. Belmont Ave., Richmond
804-422-8519

From this artisan butchery comes –

BB Bacon: house-cured and slow smoked over hickory

Beef Bacon: house-cured, slow smoked boneless rib plate

Canadian Bacon: a brined and smoked cut from ham

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Blue Ridge Meats of Front Royal
2391 Guard Hill Rd., Middletown
540-636-6050

Using no-hormone meat locally-grown and house processed comes –

House smoked bacon

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Crabill’s Meats
3149 Riverview Dr., Toms Brook
540-436-3884

Producing meats in the Shenandoah Valley since 1962 comes –

Crabill’s bacon

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Edward's Virginia Ham Shoppe

Edward’s Virginia Ham Shoppe

Edwards of Surry
11381 Rolfe Hwy., Surry
800-222-4267 | 757-294-3688

A number of bacons in various cuts and styles are offered, including –

Sliced Berkshire Bacon: dry-cured by hand from pasture-raised, Berkshire hogs

Bacon Steak: extra-thick hickory smoked bacon

Jowciale: smoked and peppered hog jowl

Assortment boxes: The Big Bacon Box, Virginia Bacon Sampler

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RM Felts Packing Company
35497 General Mahone Blvd., Ivor
757-859-6131

Under the brand name Felts Genuine Southampton comes –

Country-cured bacon

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Kite’s Hams
3957 Wolftown-Hood Rd., Wolftown
540-948-4742

From this Blue Ridge meat packer comes –

Thicker-sliced country-cured bacon

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The Rock Barn
2387 Oak Ridge Rd., Arrington
434-263-4222

From this field-to-fork artisan butchery comes –

Hickory-smoked bacon

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Bonus Recipe:

Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots with Chili Ketchup

Are you licking the computer screen yet? We thought so.

Sate your Virginia bacon desire immediately with this pork-fect recipe from Executive Chef Michael Farrell of Still Worldly Eclectic Eats in Portsmouth; they are a staple on his menu.

Ingredients

4 medium-to-large potatoes

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon white pepper

16 strips bacon

Method

Preheat oven to 425F. Thoroughly wash potatoes and prick with the tines of a fork.

Place potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until tender. Set aside to cool completely.

Once cool, grate them using a medium grater and mix in cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.

Lay out a long piece of plastic film wrap and place potato mixture in the middle and press to form a log. Roll the film over the log tightly to form a cylinder. Let the mixture set and rest about 45 minutes.

Unwrap the potato cylinder and cut into 1-inch pieces about an inch or so in diameter.

Lay out the bacon and cut each strip in half. Place one tot on the bacon and wrap, then secure with a skewer.

Cook tots in a fryer with oil at 350F (or in hot oil in a skillet on the stove top) until the bacon is crispy and the potatoes are golden, about 3-5 minutes. Serve with Chili Ketchup.

Makes about 32 pieces.

Chili Ketchup: in a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup Asian chili garlic paste (like Sambal), 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Asian chili hot sauce (like Sriracha), 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Let chill in the refrigerator about an hour before serving. Makes about 1 cup.

Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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