Country Meat Shop owner Mark Reynolds received the Best of Show award for his round bacon.

Makin' winning bacon

Reynolds and Country Meat Shop source the bellies for their award-winning bacon from the Seaboard plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, or from a plant in Arkansas through a Missouri distributor.

“No particular reason other than I’ve won the state championship at our Missouri Association of Meat Processors (MAMP) show,” Reynolds says. “I took three bacons and won every class this year.”

At the same event in the last four years, Reynolds has used raw materials from his Seaboard source to win either the dry or tumbled bacon class consistently.

“You just kind of stick with what you know, the consistency,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s anything to do with their hogs or their feeding program, but it’s been working.”

Consistency means a great deal to Reynolds when it comes to Country Meat Shop’s products, especially bacon. He firmly believes that high quality bacon comes from the process and not so much the ingredients. So if his bellies remain consistent, he can turn his attention to process and know with a fair amount of certainty how the bacon will turn out.

“If you go down the bacon case all of them are salt, sugar, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite and two of those are regulated,” Reynolds says. “So, it’s just a salt and sugar blend and you can’t get too salty or too sweet. Then it just comes down to your curing time and your smoke cycle. I believe that’s a lot of our success. We have the right smoke cycle.”

And Country Meat Shop has had many successes on many levels. In addition to winning AAMP’s American Cured Meat Competition Best of Show with the Round Bacon, it also has a Best of Show win at the MAMP competition. But those aren’t the only awards for Country Meat Shop. Over the last three years, the team has been winning roughly a third of the classes it enters in competitions, and placing in more.

“We won eight last year, six the year before and eight three years ago, first place. And I think we’ve placed in 14 of the 20 classes in the top four,” Reynolds says. “It all comes down to having high standards and expectations for your product.”