In honor of this important day, I wanted to introduce you to Nueske’s (www.nueskes.com) a smallish, artisanal producer about an hour outside of Green Bay in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, an eensie town of 1,200 people, a number easily eclipsed by the amount of cows in residence.
I stumbled across them (okay, scratch that—I followed the intense aroma of bacon) at New York’s Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center a few months back, eying the golden trophies they’d just won for their smoked wild cherrywood uncured bacon.
“Here,” the lady behind the table said, handing me a strip from they’d cooked up on a portable hot plate. It was… wow. A little salty, a little smoky, and just thick enough to be substantial but still crispy. The real deal.
Which is the story they’ve been sticking to for three generations, since the Nueske family immigrated from Germany to Wisconsin in 1882, smoker skills at the ready. What sets them apart is that while other large-scale producers will add language to lure you into believing their product was smoked, in all likelihood, they took major shortcuts, like using chips or flavorings. The Nueskes still engage in a traditional 24-hour smokehouse ritual using whole applewood logs for their bacon, hams, and turkeys, and they hand-blend their accent spices, too. You can’t find the stuff in your average supermarket, but specialty shops like Zingermann’s, Dean & Deluca, and Zabar’s all have the stuff at the ready.