When you’re raised in the town of Comanche, Texas, it’s easy to dream of becoming a cowboy some day. That was true of best friends Cody Lane and Neil Dudley, who grew up farming, ranching and working cattle together. And when you meet the two of them today, with their Wrangler jeans, pearl-snap-button shirts and wide-brimmed hats, they sure look the part. But while Lane and Dudley retain their riding and roping skills, they’re better known these days for the sizzling meat they make that gets cooked up in kitchens across the country.
Partner Spotlight: Pederson's Natural Farms
Lane and Dudley run the operations at Pederson’s Natural Farms in Hamilton, Texas: a 22-year-old business that has earned a tasty reputation for its all-natural and organic meat products – especially its bacon and pork sausage – which are served up at high-end retailers and gourmet restaurants in all 50 states. A large part of the appeal is that the company retains its humble roots as a small producer that still does everything – from the brining and smoking to the packaging – in house. “One of our biggest points of difference is our quality control,” says Lane, Pederson’s president, who joined the company after finishing college 14 years ago. “The quality of what you get today is what you’ll get six months from now because we take pride in every product that leaves our doors.”
Pederson’s now sells 60 different products made from pork, beef, bison and chicken to its growing customer base. But it’s most popular offering by far is its uncured apple-smoked bacon, which wins just about every taste test its ever been entered in.
Lane, who wears his cowboy getup whether he’s in the office or on a sales call, admits that making bacon isn’t particularly complicated: you start with a pork belly, you marinate it in a brine made with salt, vinegar and seasonings, and then you smoke it for six hours with three kinds of wood chips. After you chill it, slice it, and package it – Voila! – you have bacon. It’s a tradition that dates back some 3,000 years to ancient China and the 65-person team at Pederson’s has perfected the technique by keeping things simple while mixing in their unique brand of Texas style.
Case in point: The company made waves a few years back when it introduced bacon without any sugar in it. That happened to be at the height of popularity of the Paleo Diet, which limits how carbohydrates you can eat. But just about every other kind of bacon out there used sugar in its seasoning. When Pederson’s saw the opportunity, they shipped their sugar-free bacon to market in just six weeks. It became an instant best seller. “We strive to find ways to make an outstanding product with the least amount of ingredients,” says Dudley, Pederson’s vice-president. “When it comes to what people want these days, less is definitely more.”
You can try Pederson's sausage on Kerbey Lane Cafe's Summer seasonal dishes like Sweet Potato Hash & the Kerbey Kickstart (both pictured).