(Above: The Magic City Blues Society logo pays homage to Birmingham's Vulcan; this guy was getting ready to throw brisket on the smoker; and the band, Roadhouse, shared the stage with a boat. Yes. A boat.)
One of life's divine culinary pleasures is a hot piece of Benton's hickory-smoked bacon freshly blotted with a double-folded paper towel.
When fried, the bacon's smoke permeates one's house and leaves a campfire aroma for days.
Until yesterday, I was two degrees separated from Allan Benton, the pork genius, who has cured, smoked, and sliced country hams, bacon, and prosciutto since 1973. Chefs from all over the country--Thomas Keller to David Chang to Sean Brock--swear by his stuff. And my only connection to him was via my writer friends Jen Cole and Kim Cross.
So I made a pilgrimage to Madisonville, TN--the foothills of the Smoky Mountains--to meet Allan in person and profess my love for his craft.
We visited for over two hours. Allan walked me through every stage of his curing and smoking process--smokehouse to hickory and apple wood fire pit to wooden racks he and his father built.
Allan and Jen Cole have a mutual friend who always signs off with the phrase "World Peace & Bacon Grease!" After an afternoon with this humble, hardworking gentleman, I would submit an amendment to that phrase:
"World Peace & Benton's Bacon Grease!"
(Above: Packing to ship and the final product: A Ball jar of Benton's Bacon Grease. Perfect when dolloped on iron skillets.)
Know Thy Farmer Profiling 30+ Alabama farmers and artisans who work with Birmingham's The Market at Pepper Place.
Authentic Us Podcast
Click to Hear the Podcast Authentic Us is a sound-rich, storytelling platform that explores our culture through food, art, music, land, literature and characters. The nationally-distributed platform first launched in the Spring of 2013 as Authentic South.