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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Does bacon get any better than this?

November 5, 2008

First there was Wendy's "Baconator," two quarter-pound burgers topped off with six strips of bacon. Hot 'n' juicy indeed.

Then J&D's smoky Bacon Salt, billed as delivering the flavor without the fat, the frying or the filthy kitchen, hit the shelves of Meijer, Jewel and other area grocery stores in September.

And this month, we saw the unveiling of breaded, deep-fried bacon -- dressed in country gravy -- at Risque Cafe in Lake View.

If we know anything about these strips of cured and smoked meat, it's this: Bacon is the new black.

It's a billion-dollar-a-year business and that's just retail sales alone.

At Risque Cafe, 3419 N. Clark, country-fried bacon ($6) is on the appetizer menu. Raw bacon strips are put in an egg wash, dredged in a heavily peppered flour and then deep fried in vegetable oil, says chef Andrew Niemeyer.

A white gravy is served on the side. What you have is something that sounds very much like chicken fried steak, which fits in well with the barbecue smoke shack theme Risque is going for.

"It's something my friends and I tossed around when I was in culinary school," says Niemeyer, a 2005 graduate of the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. "Just hearing about it makes your heart skip a beat."

So this whole wonderful idea was his, something to remember when you curse the results of your next cholesterol test.

If you don't want your bacon messed with, then head over to Bucktown's Chinaski's Bar, 1935 N. Damen, which offers all-you-can eat bacon on the first Monday of every month. For free.

"All true religions have to have some monthly faith meeting," says one employee, when asked about the purpose of the bottomless bacon bowl.

If you want a meal in a bun, check out Wendy's $4.69 Baconator, introduced last year. With six slices of bacon, it probably should be washed down with a little Lipitor.