“ Brand: Tesco / Type: Meat „
This Tesco Finest smoked streaky bacon is currently marked as being a 'Richard Woodall' product, which wouldn't usually mean much to me, but the other night I saw Richard Woodall - the man himself - (he's an 80-odd year old, still-working, Lancastrian Master Butcher) featuring on the 'Hairy Bikers' TV show, and I can confirm that Richard Woodall really does provide quality bacon.
You get 15 rashers for £2.58 - or you can buy two packets of the bacon on special offer for £5, thus saving you a massive 16p on the pair of them. Given that the packs don't tend to have a terribly long shelf-life (not generally more than about two to at most three weeks from the date of purchase for an unopened pack), combined with the fact that we don't eat all that much bacon in our house because, despite its deliciousness, with all the high levels of pork fat and salt, plus the residual carcinogens in the meat left over from the smoking process, bacon has to be said to be not terribly good for you, I never buy more than one of them at a time and have never qualified to take advantage of the not-amazingly-special 8p off per packet offer. I can't say I've lost much sleep over this.
It's bacon from British pigs and has the blue RSPCA 'Freedom Foods' symbol on the front, which means that the animals ideally would be reared under conditions that would allow them access to animal welfare specialist Prof John Webster's so-called 'five freedoms' - freedom from pain and discomfort, freedom from ill health, freedom to express normal behaviour, etc. Unfortunately this branding doesn't really mean much in terms of animal welfare in practice, as the RSPCA, having no actual judicial powers as such, when they find instances of poor animal husbandry on livestock operations, demonstrably tend to do nothing but warn the perpetrators and arrange to come back or another visit in a fortnight to see if things have improved (I'm not a big fan of the RSPCA or any of its sister organizations). Still, this kind of accreditation is a step in the right direction, and at the very least, certification that the meat has not been produced in other EU countries (Spain, Denmark, Holland) that have an even poorer animal welfare record than we do here in Britain.
The bacon is marked 'no added water' and certainly, on cooking it does not exude that opaque liquid-with-globs-of-semi-solid-white-material-in that you get from other brands (eg. Tulip or Danepak). Something slightly underhand has apparently been 'done' during the processing of the rashers however - they've been stretched out, or something - because they shrink alarmingly in the pan - they lose about 1/3 of their original length after cooking, leaving them conveniently as long as about the width of a slice of bread, but convenience is hardly the point. At the same time, the width of the rashers stays about the same, with only the amount of shrinkage from fat-loss you might expect from a high-fat product. When we buy no-added-water bacon produced using 'traditional' methods, streaky style or otherwise, from the farm shop or the (excellent) local Dursley butcher's it doesn't shrink in this way and I can only conclude that the rashers have been pre-processed to make them look longer than they are in actuality - so you think you're getting more in the pack - which, if it is what's going on seems a bit of a definite con to me.
The only other downside of this product is that the packet it's sold in can't be 'torn open' across the front as it's apparently designed to be opened. The plastic stretches out then rips randomly - so you have to put the whole packet into a fresh poly bag to ensure that the remaining rashers don't dry out. This makes it take up slightly more room in the fridge than it would 'flat-pack' style and is something I get inordinately irked about.
Still it's pretty good for supermarket bacon, slow-cooks nicely to the leathery crispness that's my personal preference for bacon texture, and has a good, not overly salty taste. The unsmoked variety of this which is packaged almost exactly the same I have bought by mistake on the odd occasion. It tastes almost identical but doesn't keep quite as well as the smoked variety.