Lamb Bacon From Catskill Merino Sheep Farm
Knit yourself a new pair of socks while the lamb bacon is frying.
Catskill Merino Sheep Farm is a fixture at the Union Square Greenmarket. You'll recognize their stall by the hanging hanks of wool yarn. The colors are subdued due to the natural dyes used.
In its frozen state, the lamb bacon ("lacon"?) is fantastically tangled.
The farm, which is located in Goshen, New York, also sells edible lamb products from several iced coolers. I've bought lamb chops there before, but this last Saturday I noticed a sign advertising lamb bacon, a brand-new product for the farm. Hmmm, I thought to myself, does it taste like regular pork bacon?
I brought a package home (approximately 13½ ounces for $12.75) and threw it into the pan, noting that the strips looked relatively un-fatty and were tangled in a way that made it almost impossible to separate individual rashers. It sizzled up nicely, and the pieces disentangled themselves into relatively small, meaty strips. Despite the appearance of little fat, there was lots of it. The fat seemed to have a lower melt point than pig fat, because the pan was instantly swimming in it.
The rashers cook up more shriveled and stunty than pork bacon.
Can this sandwich achieve closure?
I'd decided to make -- what else? -- BLTs, since that's the highest and best use of bacon. I assembled my toasted Bread Alone whole-wheat slices, hothouse heirloom tomatoes, glove-soft hydroponic Bibb lettuce, and bottled mayo. The bacon had cooked down to about half its previous volume.
The taste was smoky, but also lamb-y, even mutton-y. In fact, the sheep flavors trumped the smoke flavors, which was more interesting than disappointing. The strips were chewy rather than tender, and more caramelized than crisp.
I assembled the sandwich and took a bite. The hoped-for rush of smokiness never materialized, but the sweetness of the tomatoes married nicely with the rich lamb taste. My conclusion: Next time, I'm going to use the lamb bacon as lardons in a salad instead.
The finished sandwich was good -- but not as good as a pork bacon BLT, and much chewier, too.
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