Elevation Meats is just getting started. Chad Nelan and Alex Windes, Elevation’s co-owners and producers, have been making small-batch artisanal salami and a few other porky products in their Globeville production facility for the past 10 months, selling their wares wholesale to shops such as Mondo Market and Cheese & Provisions and to restaurants such as the Preservery and Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine. Their stuff is fantastic—made from Niman Ranch heritage breed pork, local beers such as Trinity Brewing’s 7 Day Golden sour, and flavor boosters like Calabrian chiles, golden mustard seeds, and pure maple sugar.
As of just this week, Nelan and Windes have expanded their line to include bacon, with several more whole muscle items (think coppa, guanciale, and the like) going into production this summer. But the bacon—oh my, the bacon! It takes Nelan and Windes 16 days to make it, and the process goes like this: Pork belly is cured in a mixture of maple sugar, brown sugar, spices, and salt for a week. It’s rinsed, coated in a secret ancho chile spice mix, and left to rest for another week. The spiced, cured belly is hung to dry overnight, and then hot-smoked over Palisade peach and hickory woods for two to three hours. On day 16, it’s cut, packaged, and sent out the door.
The bacon comes in thick slices with a dark spice crust along the edges, and cooking instructions printed on each package render best results: Start the bacon in a cold (preferably cast-iron) skillet, and cook slowly so you don’t burn the spices. As it sizzles away, the fat crisps, the crust caramelizes, and the rich flavors bloom. It’s likely some of the best bacon you’ve ever tasted; it’s certainly in our top five list.
You can buy Elevation Meats’ dry-cured bacon at Cheese & Provisions, the Preservery, and the Local Butcher at Denver Central Market. You can also order it at Culture Meat & Cheese, Trinity Brewing, and during brunch at Quality Italian. And you should.