Archive for July, 2009

Sam Edwards’ visit to Ann Arbor

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Last night was the Bacon dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. The food and the company were both excellent, as was the cause — to raise money for the nonprofit Southern Foodways Alliance. Sam Edwards, whose family has been dry-curing bacon and ham in their traditional way for over a hundred years, came up from Viriginia (near Jamestown), and shared stories about the company, their products, and the family history. The DVD that Sam played for us was informative — a bit dated, but he has plans for his son to create a new one (his son is in college and focusing on making video pieces such as this). Sam shared his hopes for the next generation of his family to be involved in the business, and showed us pictures of what their old wooden smokehouses used to look like, before the USDA required him to build new ones out of metal and fiberglass.

Sam and Ari

Sam Edwards (left) and Ari Weinzweig, in front of the photo hanging in Zingerman’s Roadhouse of Sam’s grandfather.

Ari presenting

Ari talking to the group about bacon.

Guests

Guests enjoying the appetizers, including Angels and Devils (oysters and dates wrapped in bacon) and Tennesse Chicken (which has no chicken in it).

BLT salad

A BLT in salad form, with the first fresh tomatoes of the season from Zingerman’s Cornman Farms.

Bacon Chix Spice Rub

Lex’s Roast Chicken with Bacon and Spicy Coffee Spice Rub — was fantastic.

Bacon Chocolate Gravy

Dessert — a Bacon Apple Pie, and a Biscuit with Chocolate-Bacon Gravy

This is just a selection of the food of course, there was much more! Almost all of the dishes served were from Ari’s new book, Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon. Oh and the Bloody Mary’s with Bacon, and Bacon Martini’s, were strong and very tasty too. We ate, drank, learned about bacon, and talked with our tablemates for three hours, before wandering out into the warm humid Michigan night. A lovely evening.


La Quercia Prosciutto di Iowa

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

One of the producers featured in the Bacon book, Herb Eckhart, whose company La Quercia makes excellent prosciutto in Iowa, is featured in a recent video. (Episode 10 of “Sky Full of Bacon”, at seriouseats.com.) It’s only their second year of doing these special hams from acorn-fed pigs, and supposedly were to be shipped on July 4th – to announce American independence from European ham!


Bakin’ with Bacon class!

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

On August 7, 2009, from 1-5pm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Zingerman’s Bakehouse’s BAKE will be teaching a class on baking with bacon. The cost for the class is $125, and I know you’ll have some extremely tasty baked goods to take home with you, as well as the ability to recreate them at home, too. (I took the baguette BAKE class last year and loved it, and my co-workers loved me when I showed up at work the next day with 7 baguettes to share that I had made!)  For more info, see the listing at BAKE,  or give them a call at 734-761-7255.


Bacon special dinner and Southern Foodways Alliance fundraiser

Monday, July 6th, 2009

The July 28th Bacon special dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse was a big success! It was a fundraiser for the Southern Foodways Alliance and featured recipes from the Bacon book, and a visit from Sam Edwards, whose family has been producing traditional dry-cured bacon in Virginia for generations. Photos of the great food, and more information, here!


Bacon Recipe #5, Shrimp and Grits with Benton’s Bacon

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Slow cooking grits

First, a confession – I had planned to make this recipe on a Saturday so I could buy the slow-cooking grits per the book’s recommendation, but when I went to Zingerman’s Deli on Saturday morning, after my habitual stop at the nearby Farmer’s Market, I accidentally bought a can of the quick-cooking grits, rather than the slow ones, and didn’t realize it til I got home. At which point, rather than make another round trip in to town, I decided to use what I had. So they cooked for at least an  hour I’d say, but not 4 hours. They were good; I have no doubt the slow-cooking ones are even better.

Bacon

I also got the Benton’s bacon from Zingerman’s Deli. Sliced medium-thick. I used a wee bit more than the recipe called for – mmm, bacon.

Celery, Red Pepper, Onion

Nicely colorful ingredients – the celery/onion/red pepper. I bought 18 large shrimp instead of the 12 jumbo, seemed to work out fine. And, since my husband can’t eat gluten, I used all purpose gluten-free flour in the pan to create the sauce – it seemed to do ok, although might not have been as thick as the regular flour version would be.

Shrimp

It worked fine to cook the shrimp for just a minute or two, and then shell and clean them after that – maybe that is a common way to do it, but I never had. I’ve always shelled and cleaned shrimp raw. I liked this method.

Cooking

It was fun to tie the shrimp shells in the cheesecloth – I dont know why. Maybe because it felt old fashioned. Our big iron skillet was perfect for this dish. I did need to add maybe 1/4 cup more water at one point, but not much.

Shrimp and Grits

It cooked up easily, we heated the plates as directed, served the grits and then the shrimp and sauce on top, and ate it out on our back deck. Was scrumptious. And more than enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

Shrimp and Grits with Benton’s Bacon
From page 205 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon by Ari Weinzweig:

Ingredients:

For the grits:
4 cups water
1 cup coarse-ground grits
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons butter

For the shrimp sauce:
4 ounces (about 2 to 3 slices) bacon, diced
12 fresh shell-on jumbo shrimp
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 small sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, chopped fine
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
Hot red pepper flakes (preferably Marash), to taste
Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste

Procedure:

Heat the water in a large pot over high heat. Add the grits before it begins to boil, stirring well. Continue stirring while the pot comes to a boil, then reduce the heat. Add the salt and butter, stirring for a minute to melt the butter. Hold the pot at a low boil, stirring the grits regularly until they begin to thicken (3 to 5 minutes).

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, loosely covered, for 30 to 60 minutes – or longer still – until grits reach desired doneness. The longer you cook ’em, the better they’ll get. Stir fairly often to avoid clumping and sticking.

While the grits are cooking, start the sauce.

Cook the bacon in a 13-inch skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until lightly cooked and the fat is rendered. Remove half the bacon from the pan and reserve, leaving the other half in the skillet with the fat.

Add the shrimp to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and saute briefly so that they’re very lightly cooked – but not cooked through – on each side (probably less than a minute per side). Remove shrimp to a platter and set aside.

In the same skillet, saute the onion, celery, red bell pepper, and garlic until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, shell and clean the shrimp, reserving the shells and tying them in a cheesecloth bundle.

Sift the flour directly over the vegetables and give it a good stir until it dissolves. Slowly add in the water, mixing constantly, so that it forms a smooth sauce. Bring the mixture to a high simmer and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring steadily.

Add the shrimp shell bundle, the bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Keep at a low simmer for 15 to 30 minutes or until the grits (which are cooking in the other pot) are almost ready. Add additional water if the sauce gets too thick. It should be the texture of a moderately thick pasta sauce.

Cut the peeled and cleaned shrimp into 1-inch pieces. (You can leave them whole if your prefer, but I like the more effective shrimp distribution that you get from having smaller pieces.) Return to the sauce and simmer for a few more minutes. Remove and discard the shells. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the cooked grits onto warm plates. Top with the shrimp sauce, sprinkle on the reserved fried bacon and serve hot.

Serves 3 to 4 as a main course