During a recent Takeout Draft focused on breakfast foods, there arose a debate-within-a-debate: Which is better, bacon or sausage? For the record, neither Kate Bernot nor Kevin Pang would kick a breakfast meat out of bed, but given most breakfast combos offer space for just one, which should it be? Like seasoned debate team champs, we plead our cases.
Just because bacon is the more ubiquitous breakfast meat doesn’t make it the correct choice. Sausage is a many-splendored thing, as the adage goes: It comes in link form, patty form, crumbled form, smoked form, sweet form, shrimp kebabs, shrimp Creole, gumbo, pan-fried… wait, what were we talking about? Oh right, the superiority of sausage.
Not only is it more versatile in terms of flavors, but it offers a more pleasing texture than bacon’s sometimes char-burnt or sad-floppy extremes. When one bites into a sausage link, the casing squeakily resists ever so gently before yielding with a small pop to release the juicy meat flavors within. In patty form, its crispy edges contrast the softer interior. Even crumbled sausage offers more than soulless bacon bits.
I’d like to close with a personal anecdote. My household purchased a meat grinder a few months ago after we came into possession of a large amount of venison (my boyfriend hunts), and this contraption deepened my reverence for sausage. We could customize the fat ratios, add our own spices and flavors, customize breakfast sausages with sage or a hint of maple syrup. Sausage trumps bacon, and that’s not easy to do.
If we were to just isolate sausage and bacon to just taste, sausage spans a wide spectrum, from bad to great. Bacon at its worst is rarely bad (except for turkey bacon). So already, the probability of greatness has a higher likelihood with bacon.
With bacon, you’re also enjoying a pork product that resembles a pork product. A sausage is minced, often mixed with fillers. Sausage is great, no one can deny this fact. But bacon has striations of fat, which crisp up and melt on the palate.
Bacon is often smoked. Sausage might not always.
Sausage has chew. Bacon has chew and crispiness.
Beyond its gastronomic qualities, bacon has also become a pop cultural object in the last decade: Bacon-flavored lip balm, bacon wallets, bacon bandages, bacon-print boxers. Here in Chicago there’s an annual bacon festival. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, one of the great restaurant/delis of the country, Zingerman’s, holds an annual event called Camp Bacon. There is a cult of bacon that is unmatched among other processed meats. Sausage is fantastic, but bacon rules.