The Hidden Pig in Haverhill uses a lot of bacon—about 300 pounds every week. Of course, you can get bacon on your burger or sandwich, but there’s also the “Bacon Board” appetizer, with four flavors of porky goodness: candied, confit, fruitwood-smoked, and jalapeño-smoked. But the real surprise is probably the house-made bacon crumble, a not-so-secret ingredient in the waffles for their chicken and waffles, as well as a topping for the caesar salad, and even on the maple-bacon glazed donut.
Making those tasty morsels is a true labor of love. Chef Brandon Allardice spends seven hours cooking them, stirring every 20 minutes to achieve those crispy, smoky nuggets of flavor. In the case of the chicken and waffles, the finished bits are stirred into the batter, then cooked crisp on a cast-iron waffle maker. The bacony tidbits add a rich smoky quality to the waffle, which is topped with a crunchy piece of fried chicken, more bacon, a fried egg and a maple-bacon aioli—plus syrup.
It’s over-the-top comfort food, in a tasty way. But over-the-top seems to be a specialty of the spot, which will be opening a second location in Nashua, New Hampshire, this summer. Take the burger menu, for example—the 11 different combinations include such unique toppings as the “Flyin Hawaiian,” with cheddar, grilled pineapple, bacon (of course), and apricot sweet chili sauce, and the “Big Bad Wolf,” which comes with cheddar, confit pork belly, maple bacon aioli, and blueberry jam. Or, if you can’t decide between the burger and the pulled pork sandwich, you can get both: the “Big Rig” includes cheddar, pulled pork, an onion ring, bacon and pickles, topped with barbeque sauce on a brioche bun.
Even the veggies are extreme comfort food: the Loaded Sprouts—crispy fried Brussels sprouts topped with cheese sauce, bacon bits, and parmesan, are labeled a starter but could really be a meal unto themselves.
It’s not just beef and bacon, though. The crispiness of the fried chicken crust shines on the Chubby Chicken sandwich, a somewhat restrained combination of pickles, bacon and their top-secret “Hidden Sauce.” And if you’re not feeling a sandwich at all, check out the selection of rice bowls. The Pork Fried Rice includes jasmine rice seasoned with a different house-secret sauce, mixed with pork belly, onions, and scallions, then topped with more pork belly and an egg, drizzled with soy sauce.
The many ways pork belly appears on the menu, including the succulent Burnt Ends appetizer, all start with a day’s worth of brining, as does the pork butt used for pulled pork. Allerdice makes all his sauces and spice mixes from scratch.
To sip with your meal, Hidden Pig offers a range of margaritas, all made with fresh-squeezed lime juice. Fans of spice will enjoy the Jalapeño Business, or check out the refreshing Pig Marg, made with ruby red grapefruit juice and St. Germain. It’s a perfect summer drink to enjoy on The Hidden Pig’s lively back deck, overlooking the Merrimack River.
Desserts are warmed donuts, continuing the over-the-top theme. And while you could top yourself up with a bit more bacon—say, choosing the maple-bacon glazed offering, sprinkled with more of those intense bacon bits, or the Blueberry, topped with bacon-blueberry jam, we’d suggest opting for peanut butter with the Reese’s Pieces selection. It’s a chocolate donut, topped with peanut butter glaze, crumbled peanut butter cups, and of course, Reese’s Pieces. If you really need more bacon, we bet they’d let you order a side of those house-made bacon bits to sprinkle over the top.
Starters: Burnt Pork Ends, $13. Plates: Chicken + Waffles, $17; Pork Fried Rice, $17. Burgers and Sandwiches: Big Rig with Pulled Pork, $17; Chubby Chicken, $14. Drink: Jalapeño Business Margarita, $11. Dessert: Maple Bacon Donut, $8; Reese’s Donut, $8.
130 Washington St., Haverhill, 978-914-6800, thehiddenpighaverhill.com