Best Little Smokehouse in Wittenberg

R.C. Nueske, using a recipe brought over from Prussia in the late 1800’s, started making and selling bacon and sausages to folks in the northwoods of Wisconsin as a side hustle during the Great Depression.

Called by R.W. Apple “the holy grail of bacon“, and mentioned in over 100 cookbooks as well as the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, ” Nueske’s bacon is a bit different from some of the other bacons (even excellent ones) you might be used to.  The family, now in their 3rd generation of business, has protected the integrity of their product by refusing to compromise or change the methods they’ve spent so long perfecting.

What makes Nueske’s special?

The Smoke:  most applewood-smoked bacon is done for 4-6 hours, with sawdust providing the smoke.  Nueske has one person source all of their applewood trees, and cut those trees into logs–not chips, not chunks, but single-source logs that they use to smoke the bacon for 24 hours in small batches in sixteen steel-lined concrete block smokehouses.  You know, details.

The Pig:  Over the years, Nueske’s has developed relationships with local family farms who supply them with pork bellies from Belgian Pietrain pigs, fed a diet heavy in barley, to yield the meat they’re after: a good balance between lean and fat, rather than just the uber-fatty varieties that many producers of lux bacon use.  The reason? That, combined with the long smoke over coals, renders the bellies a deep ruddy color and renders off a fair bit of the fat.  Most bacons, when rendered, will yield a quarter to a third of their original weight.  Nueske’s will yield almost three quarters.  Big difference in your lardons.

The Flavor: that’s right, with a capital F.  It’s got more going on in a little lardon than most bacon has going on in a whole slice.  The smoke is rich, deep and well-balanced.  In chowder, it would lend backbone to the soup overall, as well as a nice, chewy lardon that is part of the textural joy of eating chowder in the first place.  It would make a wedge salad, especially with one of the many killer blue cheeses we have.  If you’re thinking of doing a BLT soon, now that tomato season is here, this is the bacon you want–it stands on its own and would make it unforgettable.

But I don’t need a whole slab: You can use up every little scrap of it in your beans and braises and stews, you get mad bang for your buck because it shrinks so little and adds so much flavor, it keeps for ages, there’s no big weird fatty wiggly piece at the end that you can’t use. It works as a moisturizer and eye mask as well.

Comes by the slab. They average 12#/slab. Call me maybe?

By Diego Maldonado