Among the meat products Milton’s Local owner James Faison produces on the Virginia farm he inherited from his grandfather Milton is a bacon smoked over hickory for eight hours, which yields plenty of ends and trimmings. What to do with all those extras? The Nobel-worthy answer is to grind it with more pork and spices, smoke it all again for another eight hours, and stuff it into casings to make three flavors of bacon sausage. Faison, a Harvard-educated lawyer turned farmer, obtains the hormone- and antibiotic-free pork belly from a network of more than two dozen family farms and processes it without nitrates or MSG. The resulting bacon-stuffed sausage is satisfying in every way—the casing offers just the right amount of punchy snap, and the flavors don’t so much explode as slowly blossom. (Bonus: Nothing in the ingredients list will send you frantically Googling.) Each bite releases an ideal amount of smokiness, and the chipotle and cilantro lend a touch of the exotic to the earthier pork and smoke. The links are delicious simply griddled and served, and assert enough authority to act as a substitute for andouille in dishes like jambalaya. Turning bacon into sausage may strike some as gilding the lily, but it’s not—it’s just rearranging the lilies into a more perfect pattern.
>Chipotle-and-cilantro bacon sausage, $8 per 12-ounce pack, miltonslocal.com
MORE MADE IN THE SOUTH:
> Food winner: Milton’s Local
> Food runner-up: The Naked Pig Meat Co.
> Food runner-up: Congaree and Penn
> Food runner-up: ’Chups Craft Condiments