Add this to your shopping list, bacon fanatics
EC: This Pork Genius from Virginia Is Making Sausage Out of Bacon
Credit: All Photos Courtesy of Milton's Local

Wait, what? We weren't kidding when we said bacon sausage. Why anyone hasn’t come up with this before now is unclear, but this new breakfast innovation is exciting in the world of bacon. So what is bacon sausage? Bacon sausage is sausage made from the ends of hickory smoked bacon by a Virginian named M. James Faison. He is a fourth generation farmer and Harvard-educated attorney who sort of fell into food sales by moving back to his home state after working in corporate law in Miami. He came up with the idea for bacon sausage as a creative and sustainable way to use excess bacon from the 35 regional family farms his company, Milton’s Local, works with directly.

Faison learned how to smoke and make bacon from his grandfather, Milton, and makes two versions of bacon sausage: chipotle cilantro and bell pepper and onion. Faison said that he makes the bacon sausage by taking the bacon ends from pork bacon. “Then we add more all-natural trim, grind it, season it, and smoke it for another eight hours,” for a total of 16 hours of smoking. Rather than using “too much pink salt” to cure the bacon, Faison includes celery powder and cherry juice as a way to appeal to consumers looking for healthier bacon-y options. This way, there’s no MSG, gluten, nitrates, or nitrites used in production.

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James inherited Milton’s 200-acre farm and recipes when his grandparents passed away in 2009. Initially, he thought farming wasn’t his strong suit. His game plan became to get in touch with the network of nearby farmers who were raising hogs as his grandparents did, minus any hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. From there, he started working with these small scale farmers to help get their meat products into more stores and restaurants.

His tips for cooking bacon sausage are straightforward: The links are three ounces, so he cuts them into thirds for better cooking and a pleasing snap. For those of us who like to eat breakfast all day, Faison has you covered: He suggests you grill them up like you would a hot dog. The smokiness of the chipotle-cilantro bacon sausage makes it a perfect substitute for chorizo or andouille. New bacon sausage varieties are currently in the works: classic honey maple and a spicy version made from piri piri or habanero peppers.

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“One of life’s ironies is that I’m married to a vegetarian,” Faison said. Breakfast “is a balancing act. Every day I eat bacon or bacon sausage with eggs, tea, and Heinz beans. She’s British, so we do tea with a lot of milk. Breakfast will also include clotted cream, and the beans are a British thing.”

His bacon sausage recently won a NEXTY award at the Natural Products Expo and a Show Shelf Showdown at the New York Summer Fancy Food Show—impressive accolades considering the company’s operations started only three years ago. The bacon sausage is available at Wegman’s, Mom’s Organic Markets, and Relay Foods for $6.99 to $8.99 per 12-ounce pack.