Judging from the sentiments posted on the Denver Bacon Company's Facebook page -- emotions like the accolades below -- chef Justin Brunson's maple slabs of hog should have brought home the blue ribbon at last week's Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, which took place in Iowa's capital city.
See also: - Exclusive sneak peek: Old Major, opening on February 22 - Bacon, beer and Justin Brunson: Porky photos from Denver's kick-ass Bacon and Beer Festival - Justin Brunson will open Old Major -- a swine, wine and seafood restaurant -- in Highland
Denver-based Tender Belly, one of eleven bacon companies who competed, won the award for Best Heritage/Mixed Breed bacon, and while the crew of chefs -- Tony Clement, Michael Long and Eric Clayman filled in for Brunson -- from Denver Bacon Company didn't bring home a top bacon booty, they were still in hog heaven. "Festival attendees lined up to try DBC's artisan maple slab bacon," says Brooks Reynolds, chairman of the bacon board for the Iowa Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. "If we had a 'People's Choice Award', it would have gone to DBC. These guys definitely know a thing or two about bacon."
And, so, does
I've had my share -- and then some -- of Brunson's bacon, and Reynolds is right, and while the bacon's official launch was at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, you can now get it in Denver.
The Denver Bacon Company, spearheaded by Brunson, who owns Masterpiece Deli and the forthcoming Old Major, slated to open on February, and Clayman, one of the founders of Udi's Granola and Gluten-Free Foods, is just the beginning of their porkerific line of foods that will soon include additional cured and smoked deli meats and products.
"With my culinary and farming background and Eric's business and entrepreneurial background, we're the perfect team to develop and execute a new line of cured and smoked meat products," says Brunson. The bacon, he adds, has "already proven to be successful with our recent industry awards and sales, and we look forward to expanding the product offerings and distribution."
The duo's maple slab bacon is butcher-cut and thick sliced and produced from hogs that are raised in Colorado. The hogs are dry-cured and devoid of water, which allows for more yield per pound and very little shrinkage when cooked. The recipe, created by Brunson, blends coriander with yellow mustard, juniper, thyme, bay leaves and black pepper, and it's then sweetened with maple sugar. After the bellies are cured, they're smoked with Colorado peachwood, garnered from Fruita.
At the moment, Denver Bacon Company products are sold at several Colorado restaurants and specialty stores and the company, says Brunson, in the process of receiving USDA approval, which would create an opportunity for him and Clayman to pimp their slabs at larger grocery stores. He notes, too, that the company will soon roll out a breakfast bacon sausage at Masterpice Deli and other Colorado restaurants and specialty stores.
"Many chefs and restaurants have already ordered and started to use our bacon in their recipes," says Clayman. "We're proud to unleash products that are made entirely in Colorado as an ode to our Colorado roots and passions."
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The Denver Bacon Company will also make an appearance at the third Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour in Keystone, June 22-23.