Vegetarians are often the first to admit their inner resolve crumbles at the slightest whiff of bacon, and so there are likely very few non-meat eaters in the area of LaGrangeville, where Mountain Products Smokehouse has been fanning the flames for 40 years. “We produce 4,000 pounds of bacon a week,” says owner Tom Gray. And that’s on top of 3,000 pounds of sausage, plus smoked chicken, turkey, and pork.
Gray, 74-years-old and a Pawling resident by way of Yonkers, started smoking cheese and bacon as a side hustle to the specialty cheese shop he’d opened with his wife in Patterson in 1980, after moving up the line in search of greener pastures. Customers got a taste of what he was tinkering with, and it wasn’t long before they started making requests. “They’d ask if I had any smoked salmon, and I’d say, ‘Give me a week.’”
Such orders quickly increased, along with demand from local restaurants, and Gray soon sought out his current, bigger facility, along with a couple of night classes at The Culinary Institute of America, and the USDA seal of approval.
Not a farm or slaughterhouse, Mountain Products Smokehouse obtains meat mainly from large distributors in Pennsylvania, where animals are humanely raised. Once Gray gets his hands on the “bellies,” he smokes “the old-fashioned way, with natural smoke from real wood fires,” using clean ingredients and no additives or fillers. “Most modern smokehouses inject brine into the bellies, but we hand-rub ours with salt, sugar, and spice,” he notes. Gray says no added water means his bacon — traditional, uncured, or seasoned with flavors like honey siracha, chipotle, or maple cinnamon — won’t shrivel up in the pan.
Mountain Products Smokehouse bacon and sausage can be found at farm stands across the Hudson Valley and Connecticut, and at every DeCicco & Sons in Westchester, confirming Ben Franklin’s quote that “bacon [not ‘beer,’ as it is often misquoted] is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”