It was Thanksgiving morning when I decided to open my first package of RJ Balsons bacon. This is not merely any British Bacon, it is a piece of history, dating back to the time of King Henry the VIII. I can just imagine what it must have been like back in the time when RJ Balson and sons opened their doors in 1535. A family of butchers passing down their skill, recipes and techniques from one generation to the next and now I hold in my hand the culmination of all the previous generations. The oldest butcher shop in the world. Fantastic!
I could digress and go into a complete history of RJ Balson and Sons and how they opened up a second shop here in the states so we yanks could have the opportunity to indulge ourselves in the authenticity that is British Bacon. I will say this, after coming to America to play professional soccer in Atlanta, Mike Balson, son of Donald Balson, realized that he couldn’t find any British bacon that had the same flavor or quality that he was used to. So he along with his son Oliver decided to solve that problem. They opened a branch of the family business here in the states. The process began with the sourcing the proper hogs with the right feed combination. The next was to source the same quality of spices and curing ingredients they use back at their home shop in Birdport, Dorset, England. Through this process they successfully created their beloved bacon and other products that were, until 2007, only found in the original Birdport shop.
Unlike American bacon the British version is mostly meat with little fat. The bacon is made from the loins of the hogs rather than the belly, which is traditional for American bacon. Cured and smoked to perfection through centuries old methods RJ Balson and Sons has created the perfect recipe that brings out the sweetness of the meat with a hint of smokieness that lingers on the palate.
The bacon is cured using the same methods that have been passed down for generations and then subtly applewood smoked to create the delicate and sweet flavor of their bacon.
I ended up serving it with scrambled eggs and leeks to compliment the bacon and yet keep it rather simple. The final result was a breakfast that was so full of amazing subtle flavors and could satiate any palate.
RJ Balson & Sons products are available online at http://www.balsonbutchers.com
In the weeks to come I’ll be sharing more about their bangers and a lot more about their history.