Article

Black collar bacon

Categories: Product of the week

A highly traditional bacon from new traders, Charcutier

Streaky bacon, or back bacon—that’s about the extent of the choice you’ll get when it comes to buying the generic stuff. Unless you include smoked or unsmoked, which hardly makes for an exciting decision. At brand new Borough Market stall Charcutier, though, the ante has been upped. Among its array of farmhouse cured bacon, sits a more unusual gem: black collar bacon.

The ‘collar’ cut—which, you guessed it, comes from the neck—is taken from Illtud Llyr Dunsford and Liesel Taylor’s pedigree, rare-breed Welsh pigs, all of which have been slow grown on their farm in Carmarthenshire, Wales, or on trusted family-run farms nearby.

“Nothing is used to speed the process up. They’re fed by-products of the local food industry, such as waste veg and spent grain, combined with locally grown cereal,” explains Liesel, whose partner Illtud comes from a family that has been curing bacon for more than 300 years. “We never use commercial feeds containing soya, hormones, antibiotics or fast-bulking proteins—absolutely not.”  

The meat is then hand-salted and massaged with mace, black pepper, cloves and black treacle—which, alongside the naturally dark cut of meat, lends the bacon its distinctive hue—before being laid out on racks to dry and mature. The whole process takes around 21 days.

A Georgian recipe
“It’s based on a Georgian recipe by Lord Bradenham, who wanted to create an impressive cure using all the most exquisite spices available at the time,” Liesel explains. “We tried and tested the recipe over a long period of time. The result is an unctuous bacon that sells out at every market. In fact, two customers once almost broke into a fight over the last pack!”

Dark, sweet and beautifully marbled with just a hint of warming spice, when cooked to crisp perfection over a gentle heat to caramelise the treacle, slipped between two slices of dark rye, sourdough, or “the amazing Cathedral loaf” from Bread Ahead, with heritage tomatoes (“it’s got to be heritage, you don’t get the flavour otherwise”) and a few rocket leaves, we can almost understand why you might get into a row with a stranger to secure a portion.

“Folk tell us it tastes ‘like bacon used to be’—it has quite a following, we’re chuffed to say.”