Photo by The Bitten Word/Flickr CC
Smoked pork jowl from the Burgers' Smokehouse: I think this stuff has been one of the big sleeper/surprise hits of the first couple months of our post-book release bacon work this year. Pretty much everyone who's heavily into the cured pork has been raving about it, not to mention buying a lot of it and cooking it.
Although nearly none of you will have known it, the Burger family is actually one of the nation's biggest country ham producers. While that isn't really all that big by commercial meat manufacturing standards, it's a whole lot bigger than Nancy Newsom. While most of their hams are quicker cures for commercial outlets they do still do a small number of what they call Attic hams, old style, dry, ambient cure for a year country hams that are very good. And they do bacon, and they do this really good smoky pork jowl.
In terms of background, Steven Burger is the third generation in the family business and has dedicated himself to preserving tradition while simultaneously improving most everything the company cures. From what people say, that's pretty much the way it has gone ever since Steven's grandfather, E. M. Burger, started the business in the 1950s in the town of California, about half between St. Louis and Kansas City, and just slightly south of the college town (I always think about those college towns) of Columbia.