LON’S at The Hermosa Inn
5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd., Paradise Valley
Bacon shows up in the most interesting places – buried in ice cream, covered in chocolate and infused in vodka. But its supreme form may reside in the hands of LON’s executive chef Jeremy Pacheco, who offers the sizzling bacon ($16, pictured) starter at Saturday and Sunday brunch, and as a dinner side to complement steak. The server presents the thickly sliced bacon tableside in a sizzling cast iron pan atop a board and then pours maple syrup and aged sherry vinegar over the top, glazing the pepper-tinged pork. “We make our own bacon from fresh Duroc pork bellies, cured for three days and then smoked,” Pacheco says. To mop up all that sweet, lovely bacon juice, Pacheco provides Noble toast. Waste not, want not.
Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse
Two Valley locations
For an all-in bacon experience, Bootleggers dishes up a shareable bacon board ($26) featuring five types of bacon. Included in the mix: slices of crisp cherrywood, black pepper and jalapeño bacon with just the right amount of fat to balance the smoke-filled flavors. For those who crave heat, the jalapeño and pepper bacon both unleash a fiery punch that lingers long past the last bite. For a more subtle sensation, the confit (i.e. cured in its own fat) bacon and the in-house smoked pork belly allow the porcine flavor to shine through the layers of crispy caramelization. The board includes sourdough toast points, house-made onion and red pepper jam, sour gherkins and grainy mustard.
The Pork Shop
3359 E. Combs Rd., Queen Creek
If you’re planning a get-together and want to beguile your guests with bacon, The Pork Shop manager Jason Corman can lend a hand. He stocks nine varieties, all cured and smoked in-house and sold by the pound or slab ($6.49-$9.99 per lb.). Standouts include Kansas City-style (pork shoulder cured in brown sugar that’s on the meatier side); Tuscan, a spicy bacon loaded with cayenne pepper and paprika; and pancetta, a smoky Italian style cooked with garlic and juniper berries. Corman suggests pairing the pork with apricot preserves, honey mustard, sweet pickles and a French roll. The best way to cook bacon? “In a cast iron skillet over an open fire at a campground up in Flagstaff.”