When I was asked to try Spoiltpig’s new bacon I have to admit I was intrigued more than anything – the release I was sent was titled ‘Spoiltpig launches first Raised Without Antibiotics bacon to UK market’ and in all honesty I had no idea what it meant!
Perhaps due to my naivety I didn’t even know antibiotics were used much on animals, let alone widely enough to create issues. I’d read about problems relating to the rise in antibiotic resistance due to the overuse of antibiotics in humans but I had no idea that this was also impacted by farming. This is most prominent in the pig industry, where antibiotics are used to prevent illness, leading to the rise of resistant bacteria which can then be transferred from animals to humans, spreading the problem of antibiotic resistance. The launch of Spoiltpig’s new product was born out of their concern to this global issue. Under this system, the piglets are farrowed outdoors and brought indoors at weaning age, where they are then kept at stocking densities much lower than those permitted (i.e. they have more space to themselves!) with natural ventilation. They are also weaned later which is apparently less stressful for the piglets. I don’t pretend to know anything about farming, least of all pig farming, but this the information above is taken from Spoiltpig’s release, which takes information from the World Health Organization and UK-VARSS and for me, anything that enables animals to have lower levels of stress or cruelty is clearly a positive.
Anyway, onto the product itself. Like Spoiltpig’s other products, their Raised Without Antibiotics range follows their signature curing processes of hand rubbing with their sea salt cure then allowing it to mature fully before being sliced. In the past I’ve usually gone for unsmoked, but having recently had a lot of smoked meats in America my preferences might be starting to change – I love the extra flavour that a smoky finish brings and I think it’s perfect in certain dishes.
I don’t actually buy bacon that often – while I like it it’s not something I often cook at home.. in fact the last time we tried to make a fry up I think we set the grill pan on fire, the neighbours laughed at poor Marcus holding the smoking pan out of the window and the flat smelled for days! I couldn’t wait to try out a few dishes with these products though – like cheese, adding bacon can improve pretty much any dish! Mac & cheese, grilled cheese, a pasta dish, burgers, a casserole, pies.. the options were endless and I couldn’t wait to try them out!
The first thing I made had to be bacon mac & cheese! I make mac & cheese regularly but this was my first time adding bacon to a homemade version. I simply chopped up the bacon into small pieces, fried until crispy and added it to my mac and cheese sauce.
I also made a bacon version of the popular colcannon dish. I chose the smoked bacon for this dish as I thought it would add much needed flavour to the potatoes and it worked so well. Simply chop the bacon into small pieces, fry off with some leeks, mash some potatoes with butter, cream cheese and cheese and stir together – a quick, delicious and comforting side to any meal!
For me, bacon and waffles is an absolute classic so that was another dish I had to create! Maybe I’m biased having just come back from America, but I wanted to recreate a (very unaesthetic, but incredible) dish from Two Hands, one of the many brunch spots. I went for the unsmoked bacon for this dish, as I was hoping there would be plenty of flavour from the buttermilk waffles and the cheese sauce. Bacon and pancakes work pretty well too.. it took me quite a while to overcome the sweet and savoury barrier but now I love bacon and maple syrup together!
Receiving these products has really got me thinking about all of the possible dishes that I can use bacon in – I’m definitely going to try adding it to casseroles and vegetables to add natural flavour, and I’ve also got a few ideas for English-breakfast type pies or pastries.
Overall I think this is a great product. The packaging is appealing, the quality of the meat was evident and I thought the meat to fat ratios were good – it both fried and grilled perfectly! I’m not going to pretend to be able to taste the difference between different types of bacon – I just see bacon as a delicious, tasty meat – but it worked really well both as whole rashers or in the various dishes I cooked, and if you can eat bacon whilst being slightly friendlier to the planet or the pigs* then it’s definitely a winner in my eyes.
* I know there are many vegetarians/vegans who would criticise others for eating meat at all but please understand that I fully respect your views and opinions and I ask you to do the same in return.
Spoiltpig Raised Without Antibiotics bacon is available in Dry Cured Smoked Back Bacon, Dry Cured Unsmoked Back Bacon and Dry Cured Smoked Streaky Bacon, from £3.00 at Morrisons, Tesco, Ocado, Costco, Nisa, Budgens, Spar & Amazon Fresh.