Taste test Smoked rashers
Ah, bacon sandwiches. There's nothing like 'em, unless, of course, you prefer your rashers unsullied by bread, and eaten as part of a Full Irish. These days we're all conscious to limit our consumption of processed meat, so when you do buy bacon, you want it to be good. Our testers tried five different smoked rashers, and gave us their verdict.
Gubbeen, 154g (weight per packet varies), €3.81, 10/10
Fingal Ferguson sources his meat from approved suppliers via a co-operative near the Gubbeen farm in Schull. Pigs must be reared in straw-bedded pens with access to the outside, or entirely out of doors. The dry cure uses salt, raw cane sugar, black pepper, juniper, rosemary, thyme and bay, and the bacon is smoked over hard woods. These are the most expensive of the rashers that we tested, but the quality is superior. Our testers loved them, including the crisp fat. Utterly delicious.
Outdoor Oinks, 200g, €3.45, 7/10
This was the only bacon that we tested that's made with meat from pigs that 'are free to ramble inside out'. Dry-cured, the pork content is 96pc, and the meat comes from the Gort na Muc farm in Co Kildare. Good flavour, and subtle smoke.
Rudd's, 180g, €3, 6/10
'Birr Born & Bred' it says on the packet, and these rashers are made with 98pc Irish pork. Good for those who like a thick rasher, dry-cured, and with a nice smoky flavour from smoking over beechwood.
Clonakilty, 200g, €3, 5/10
These rashers contain 93pc Irish pork, and added water. Our testers found them lacking in flavour, and not smoky enough.
Denny, 180g, €2.99, 5/10
The pork content of these hickory smoked rashers 'with added water and smoke flavouring' from Denny is 91pc, but the packet does not indicate whether the pork is Irish - even though this is a well-known Irish brand. Our testers liked the hickory smoke flavour, and the underlying sweetness.