Profile: Freckle Face Farms
For Mitchell Latture, owner of Freckle Face Farms in McRae, it makes sense to put 500 miles on his truck every time he wants a fresh batch of bacon.
This hog farmer is all about quality, and the mileage it takes doesn’t matter. Every three weeks, Latture hauls his 250-pound hogs some 4 1/2 hours to Yoder Brothers Meat Processing in Paris, Tennessee, from his farm southwest of Searcy.
There, skilled butchers cure and smoke the pork belly into traditional bacon. They also work pork loin into thin slices of Canadian bacon and use the back of the neck for collar bacon, which is slightly leaner than traditional bacon and has a marbled fat. Over the course of the process, they produce hundreds of pounds of pork chops, shoulder roasts and hams for Latture to haul home. But it’s always the bacon, however, that tends to sell first.
The difference between picking up a pound of Freckle Face Farms bacon and a vacuum-sealed pouch from the grocery store? It comes down to the source. At Freckle Face, Latture’s hogs are heritage breeds that do well in the field, rather than typical commercial hogs that stay inside all day.
“They have access to the woods and pasture and mud holes, and get to be pigs,” Latture says.
On the family-run farm—which is also home to cows, chickens and turkeys—the hogs eat roots and acorns in the fall. When persimmons fall in the winter, they scoop those up, too, in addition to their supplement of corn, oats and soy.
Pig are raised to about 7-8 months before they are large enough to go to slaughter. From each 270-pound hog, Latture is able to get around 170 pounds of usable meat. Needless to say, the freezer space at Freckle Face is stocked full. Especially with bacon.
“Our bacon is cured with a naturally occurring celery salt,” Latture says. “It has a much fresher taste because our hogs are eating natural foods often, and they’re not stressed.”
I have three go-to breakfasts right now, and I will rank them in order: First is my wife’s, Amy Kelley Bell. Over-easy eggs, two pieces of bacon and extra-crispy hash browns. Next, Mugs Cafe’s breakfast tacos. I usually don’t go for corn-tortilla breakfast tacos, but these are superb. Finally, I like a little place in North Little Rock called BJ’s Cafe. I go for the smoked sausage, eggs up, and biscuit and gravy.
– Matt Bell, South on Main
The Basics: Pork Belly
Q: What’s the difference between bacon and pork belly?
A: $4.95 a pound *
*OK, not quite. While pork belly is often seen as the trendier, more expensive cousin to lowly bacon, there is a more technical difference. Bacon, as we know it, is thinly sliced sections of pork belly that have been brined, cured or smoked to add additional flavors. Pork belly is simply bacon in its original form.
Consider cast iron and bacon a match made in pork-fat heaven. New cast-iron skillets need to be “seasoned,” or rubbed down with fat and baked in a hot oven. Pro-tip: Leftover bacon grease works well as any fat source. After cooking breakfast, just rub some bacon grease into the cleaned-out skillet, and then bake according to your pan’s directions to create a nonstick surface perfect for searing steaks or baking cornbread. Bonus: A little of that bacon flavor will infuse itself into everything you cook. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Bacon Five Ways
“Pork Belly Cheese Stix”
What: Focaccia bread sticks topped with pesto, mozzarella, house-cured pork belly, basil and a balsamic reduction
Where: Tusk & Trotter, 110 SE A St., Bentonville; tuskandtrotter.com
“Bacon-Wrapped French Toast”
What: Exactly what you think—strips of French toast, wrapped in crispy bacon and served on a stick for easy syrup dipping
Where: B-Side, 11121 Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock; (501) 716-2700
What: Sweet dates wrapped in bacon and baked until crisp
Where: The Pantry, 11401 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock; littlerockpantry.com
“Roasted Eggplant & Bacon Sandwich”
What: Roasted eggplant paired with locally made bacon and gruyere on toasted sourdough
Where: Mylo Coffee Co., 2715 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock; mylocoffee.com
What: A base of black-pepper-seasoned french fries topped with bacon, house-made ricotta and green onions, then smothered in tarragon gravy
Where: Arsaga’s at The Depot, 548 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville; arsagasdepot.com