Dry-ageing bacon firm launches into foodservice

Kennedy Bacon, based out of Co Tyrone, is expanding its audience reach and launching a new product aimed at chefs and retailers.

The firm has introduced cooked bacon lardons, targeting chefs as well as retailers. A series of other pre-cooked bacon products by Kennedy Bacon will follow this launch, all of which have been developed by the business to sell to independent retailers and delis across Northern Ireland and parts of the Republic.

Kennedy Bacon was inspired to launch into the foodservice category after chefs approached the company expressing interest in the products to be included on their menus. Ive been talking to chefs here for some time about my products and exploring ways that I could adapt them to meet their needs, said pig farmer Mervyn Kennedy, who owns and manages Kennedy Bacon.

I introduced lardons a few months ago and was encouraged to explore opportunities to pre-cook and package for use in salads, soups and other dishes, particularly during the salad season. The cooked lardons are an ideal ingredient for salads.

The products are created using 100% Northern Irish quality bacon from Kennedys 2,000-strong pig herd, which are farmed on family land at Glenhordial, near Omagh. Kennedy, who has won UK Great Taste Awards for his artisan products, is a third-generation farmer.

Id always been interested in farming and particularly in rearing pigs for bacon. I began farming at school and decided to focus on pigs as a youngster. I subsequently began looking at ways to cure bacon to bring out the rich flavours of the meat.

He explained that it was his passion for the industry that drove him to explore dry-ageing techniques. I wanted to develop different products that didnt involve pumping the bacon with water and preservatives, he said. Some bacon on the market today is 25% water and gammon is up to 30%. My bacon is cured for between seven and nine days, using my own recipe, which also takes into account current health concerns particularly about salt and sugar. Our products are natural and dry-cured and have a shelf-life of around three weeks. Its real bacon that tastes like it should.

The products are prepared, sliced and packed in a small factory built on the farm around 15 years ago. Kennedy concluded: The bacon is cured in as near to the traditional way as possible, using the minimum amount of cure, which leaves our bacon less salty. The result is a tasty product that allows the pan/grill to stay clean. And with no water added, the bacon tastes as it should savoury, yummy and moreish. It really is bacon at its best.

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