Kirkland "Natural Hickory Smoked" bacon from Costco is my current everyday bacon. That being the case, and since I already had some in my fridge, it's going to be the first bacon that I review as part of this epic, sweeping project that I have dubbed The Bacon List.
This Kirkland is a pretty good bacon. It's respectable. It doesn't shrink up too much when cooked, renders a decent amount of fat, and yields a finished product that has a nice balance of salty, sweet, smoky, and porky flavors.
It should be considered for what it is--a pretty good grocery store bacon. It's a mass-produced product and it looks, feels, and tastes like one. But that's ok--it sells for $8.99 for a four-pound pack. It's not trying to be something it's not. It wants to be your everyday use bacon. It's certainly fine for sandwiches or to cook with. We also use it when we want to just eat some bacon with breakfast, but we're not too fancy over at our house. The kid likes it fine. If I'm making a nice breakfast or having guests over, I'd probably break out the Neuske's, Nodine's, or Broadbent's, but that's only for once in a while, since some of those run up around $10/pound.
Ok, let's get to the rundown:
a) Regarding bacon's cooked appearance--this is largely dependent upon the cooking method chosen, the medium utilized, and the temperature/length of cooking. As such, it's very subject to variance. I am attempting to limit my comments to those that would apply regardless of the cooking technique used. I usually cook bacon in a 325 degree oven, on a rack over a sheet pan, so the fat can drip away and the bacon can get crispy. In the spirit of doing an honest comparison, I will try to use this cooking technique for all the bacon I review for The List.
b) As with restaurants, the numerical rating system is a bit wonky, since a hot dog stand will never garner a four-star review, no matter how perfectly they dress your dog and cook your fries. Likewise, a grocery store bacon will probably never get anything more than a 6.5 or 7 review. It's just not possible. Really, it's not even fair to compare a dry-cured, wood-smoked product like the artisanal products I mention above with a grocery store product like the Kirkland stuff, but I'm doing it anyway. So, just so you know, the 6.0 above is a pretty damn good number for a mass-produced product.
c) Damn, I love bacon.