Last May, at SIAL, the must-see trade show for food industry leaders and followers, the irresistible aroma of sweet porky goodness – an aroma that has broken many a vegetarian's resolve – wafted through the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It grabbed attendees by the nose and led them to a booth where a strapping young cowboy from Alberta – Stetson hat and all – wrangled strips of what appeared to be bacon onto an electric griddle. The cowboy was Landon Janzen, and it was his dad, Richard, who invented this beguiling comestible.
Dark and leaner than pork, beef bacon fries up crispy just like its porcine predecessor, and if it's possible, is even yummier. It delivers everything pork bacon does, plus an added hit of something uniquely beefy and rich, reminiscent of that irresistible fat ribbon that runs through Korean short ribs.
Cattleman Richard Janzen had the light bulb moment in 2009. "I wanted to eat healthier so I told my family I wasn't going to eat certain seafood or pork any more. My daughter said, 'But Dad, we love bacon!' So, we'll eat beef bacon then." Janzen set about developing the product. It took a year to perfect the process: belly from Grade A Alberta and Ontario beef – a cut formerly relegated to hamburger and sausage – is cured, hot smoked over hardwood, aged for seven days then sliced. It's lower in fat, higher in protein and is a whopping 50 per cent lower in cholesterol.
Still only available in a few shops out west, Janzen demurs that it's about to be picked up by a couple of – as yet, unsecured chains – and go national. Word to the wise, keep your eyes peeled at Costco, Metro and Sobeys. Just sayin'.
Canadian Beef Bacon: SRP $6.79 available now at select Calgary IGAs and others and in the next two weeks, across the country.
Special to The Globe and Mail