Introducing our best ever bacon, supplied by Stephen’s Fresh Foods
They say when it comes curing meat there are only three ingredients; ‘meat, salt and patience’, there are no secrets and there are no shortcuts. Few company’s cooking and curing meat in the UK right now on a commercial scale understand this better than like-minded fellow natives of The Garden Of England: Stephen’s Fine Foods.
Established in 1974, Stephens have spent over four decades refining their been perfecting their products over the four decades to deliver the very best cured and pre-cooked meats, sourcing from livestock locally as well as premium herds and raised in the UK.
Along they way Stephen’s Fine Foods have gained valuable BRC accreditation (a coveted Global Food Safety Initiative standard ascertaining that companies are meeting customer demand while also delivering the highest levels of food safety and quality. They’re also a proud member of Produced in Kent, an exclusive organisation dedicated to championing the counties finest food, drink, products and services, and have even established their own fresh food origin mark: UK OK.
As you can see, this fellow Kentish company take their commitment to provenance and quality just as seriously as we do, which is why Maws are delighted to announce we now stock and supply a staple of the Stephen’s range, their finest bacon.
Bacon is well loved across the world, yet there are few places where bacon has as much cultural importance as the UK. A simple, delicious pleasure that can be enjoyed by all, bacon remains at the very heart of the British diet. Merely the smell of it frying in the morning is enough to fill most of us with pure nostalgic joy, and a without a couple of well-done rashers the full English breakfast as we know it would cease to exist.
The most significant difference between British bacon and that of other nations is probably in our back bacon. Although they consume vast quantities, in the US, the only available bacon cut is the one we term streaky bacon, the ‘belly cut’ taken from the fat-striped padding on the side of the pig. Meanwhile the Canadians typically make their bacon from the loin of the pig, the loin is a lean medallion of meat that contains little fat and provides rounded slices of lean bacon, which although very tasty, still falls short of what bacon should be at its best.
The beauty of British back bacon is that the cut is a combination of both pork belly and pork loin, the rounded lean piece of the back bacon rasher is the pork loin and the fatty streaky bit attached to it is the pork belly – and it’s the balance of lean meat to fat this cuts provides that creates the perfect succulent yet crispy rasher once fried.
The Perfect Cure
Another essential part of what differentiates British bacon from that of other countries is the curing processes involved. Curing, along with smoking, has been used for centuries as a method to help prolong the edible life of meat and fish. Dry curing is the most common method, and simply involves apply a mixture of salt, sugar and aromatics such as cracked black pepper to a cut of meat by rubbing it in and letting it rest, this process is often repeated for up to ten days, allowing the some of the natural moisture in the meat to leach away, lengthening its shelf life while intensifying flavour.
British bacon is also wet-cured, which involves soaking the meat in brine made with the same basic curing ingredients for around five days. This traditional technique was developed during the 18th century by the Harris family who farmed around Caine in Wiltshire, and is therefore known as the Wiltshire Cure. Today all bacon labelled ‘Wiltshire Cured’ must come from pork bred and reared in the UK.
Sourced from selected farms across the UK, including Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Northern Ireland, Essex and Sussex, Stephen’s British bacon is fully traceable through the curing, smoking and packing processes.
Maws now stock Stephen’s smoked and un-smoked Back Bacon and un-smoked streaky bacon, all available by the 5lb (2.27kg) pack.