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Pricepoints: Bringing home the bacon

THE Irish rasher is almost a national institution, unfortunately, the bulk of rashers served to tourists, as part of an Irish breakfast, areshrivelled, salty, stringy things that do little for the reputation of Irish food.

The centuries-old method of preserving pork by rubbing it in salt to dry cure it was replaced in the 20th century by industrialised methods of injecting it with salty water (wet cure) which also artificially increases the weight of the product.

Until the past few months Rudd’s was the only dry-cured rasher that was widely available, but now, thankfully, many supermarkets have seen the light.

A dry-cured rasher will shrink less than a wetcured rasher, so it works out almost the same price.

Pig rearing is one of the most industrialised forms of farming in Ireland and it is very difficult for a free-range producer to compete. Hence, the only free-range or organic rasher I could find was not Irish, but Danish, processed by Oliver Carty in Athlone.

All the rashers were fried in a dry, non-stick pan. I mopped up any excess liquid that oozed out as they fried so that the salty water would not dry on the meat, and I recommend you do the same at home.

OLIVER CARTY ORGANIC DRYCURED RASHERS, €2.92 PER 150G

These scored very high, mainly because of the quality of the meat. They had excellent sweet, finequality meaty and salty, pork flavours that lingered in the mouth. I liked the texture, slightly chewier than other samples, thanks to a pig that had had a little more exercise. 9/10

RUDD’S THICK CUT DRY CURE BACK RASHERS, €3.99 PER 210G

Low shrinkage thanks to the dry cure, these rashers just had a couple of small white marks to wipe off before I flipped them. Mild, slightly salty taste, firm texture, excellent quality and a fine, sweet pork taste. 8/10

DUNNES SIMPLY BETTER DRY CURE RASHERS, €2.80 PER 200G

Low shrinkage and these held their shape quite well. Thick solid texture, mild pork taste, some saltiness and a lingering hint of sweetness. A little too mild in flavour but still good quality. 7/10

TESCO FINEST THICK CUT DRY CURE RASHERS, €2.49 PER 200G

Thick-sliced rashers that held their shape. Solid and tasty with good pork flavours, a decent texture and lingering pork flavours. Good. 7/10

LIDL DELUXE IRISH UNSMOKED DRY CURE, €2.49 PER 250G

Slightly more shrinkage than the other dry-cured rashers. Sweet bacon flavour, good quality, a little more fat than some of the others but still very good. Cheapest of the dry cured. 6.5/10

DENNY TRADITIONAL RASHERS, €2 PER 180G

Denny’s standard (wet-cured) rashers shrank just a little with a loss of only 6g. A thin rasher with a mild salty flavour and a tasty pork finish. Good quality. Best of the wet-cured. 6.5/10

ALDI BRANNANS THICK-CUT BACK RASHERS, €1.99 PER 250G

Despite being one of the thickest rashers in the test these did not lose too much weight during cooking. Good pork flavour, not too salty, good quality if slightly bland in flavour. Good value. 6/10

TRULY IRISH TRADITIONAL CURE RASHERS, €3.99 PER 240G

Solid thick texture with low shrinkage. Good taste of pork and mild salt flavour. Despite the name, I’m not sure these are any more Irish than the other Irish rashers in the test. 6/10

SUPERQUINN TRADITIONAL BACK RASHERS, €2.49 PER 150G

These rashers are made exclusively for Superquinn. Slightly thicker than normal, some salty taste but with background pork flavours, not bad. 5.5/10

ROSCREA TOTALLY TASTY RASHERS, €3.99 FOR 300G

These rashers lost almost half their weight in frying. Very thin, salty and fatty. Mopping up the white salty mucous did not help with perception, but tasted okay. 4.5/10

GALTEE OLD STYLE RASHERS, €2.79 PER 150G

Lost more than one third of its weight in salt water. These rashers were very thin and very, very salty. A quick boil to remove some of the salt would have helped as, beyond the taste of salt, the meat seems of reasonable quality. 3/10


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