OINK OR QUACK: Maybe this has been around awhile, and we’re just hearing about it. Or maybe it’s truly a new product that just recently made its debut around here.
Regardless, this food item caught us by surprise: duck bacon.
We’ve had turkey bacon and swore it off as a poor substitute for the pork variety, but we love hearing about unusual edibles and we’re willing to give almost anything a try.
But before we’ll spring $10.99 a pound for something we don’t know if we’ll like, we want to hear from at least one expert that it’s worth trying.
That’s where Jack Bell comes in. The venerable Bell, proprietor of Bell’s Meat & Poultry in Kane, told us he just got some of the turkey bacon in a week or so ago, and he’s given it his stamp of approval.
“That’s good stuff,” he proclaimed. “It’s good, delicious and lean.”
The variety Bell’s is selling is made by Maple Leaf Farms, which claims the duck bacon has 57 percent less fat than pork bacon. It’s made from applewood smoked boneless duck breast.
Jack says it has a different taste than pork bacon, but it cooks to a crisp texture and has very little waste.
Maple Leaf Farms is holding a recipe contest for chefs in the Pittsburgh region to help introduce the new product, and Jack thinks he has a lock on it. He’s famous for putting together what he calls a Griller — that’s a large, boneless chicken breast stuffed with Swiss cheese, Greek sausage and Virginia ham and topped with bacon.
For the contest, he’s created a Griller that he’s topped with a duck breast and the duck bacon. He calls it the “Bell’s Duck Bacon Quack Attack Griller.”
“I said, ‘That’s no contest. They should go ahead and write me the check’” for the prize, Jack said, just based on the name.
Jack’s shop has been getting a lot of attention lately, including a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette travel section a month ago that has made his weekend business boom, especially with customers from Pittsburgh.
“My sausage counter looked like a bomb went off” last weekend, Jack said. “Half of Pittsburgh has been here.”
It’s a nice business problem to have, and he’s thankful for the coverage.
“Every evening I get down on my knees and bow toward Pittsburgh,” he joked.