Archive for November, 2009

Bacon Hash

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

I harvested the last of my potatoes, and decided to try making the Bacon Hash recipe with them. I hadn’t actually planted potatoes this year – my harvest was from the potatoes that escaped being harvested last year! I had a combination of Peruvian Purples and I think German Butterballs.

potatoes

I had picked up some Arkansas Peppered bacon at Zingerman’s Deli yesterday, sliced medium-thick.

Arkansas_Peppered_bacon

I cooked the bacon on a rack on a cookie sheet in the oven – put it in a cold oven and then turned the oven on to 350, and cooked it for about half an hour – I took it out when the bacon was still bendable, not crisp. I had the rest of the ingredients on hand. I have to admit, this was the first time I had steamed potatoes, OVER salted water, rather than boiling them IN salted water. It worked fine! Although I did cut the potatoes into large chunks before I steamed them, because of the wide disparity in sizes – some of the potatoes were quarter-sized, others were quite large.  I chopped up celery, onion, and a red pepper as called for. The chicken stock was homemade – I make large batches and freeze quarts of it, very handy to have around and so much tastier than what you can buy in the supermarket. The flour was Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free, since my husband can’t eat wheat.

The cliff-hanger with this recipe was, would the roux thicken, with gluten free flour?

Here’s all the ingredients, ready to roll:

BAcon_hash_ingredients

Cooking the onions/peppers/celery, in 4 tablespoons (yowza) of bacon fat,  in the largest iron skillet I have:

Bacon_Hash_inpgrogress

I added the all-purpose gluten free flour, and slowly added the chicken broth, and it did thicken! Not quite as much as a regular flour roux, so I used more like 1 cup of the chicken broth rather than 1.5 cups, but it was thickening:

BAcon_Hash_roux

When it was nice and thick I stirred in the bacon, and potatoes, and since I didn’t have any heavy cream I used a bit of 2% milk instead. Seemed to work just fine!

BAcon_hash_nearlydone

I also made a quick soup, using the chicken broth I had left over, in the blender with kale and turnip greens I had previously harvested from my garden and blanched and frozen. I cooked up some chopped onions and garlic (both of which I had also grown in my garden), in butter, and added that to the blender too with a bit of salt and a bit of celery seed. Blended it for a good 5 minutes to break down the fibers of the kale. Then put it in a pot with about half a cup of milk, heated it gently, and it was really tasty.

So, here’s dinner, my husband and I enjoyed it very much, and we have some lovely leftovers for brunch tomorrow!

Bacon_hash_n_Kalesoup

Below is the full recipe, from page  157 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon by Ari Weinzweig:

This hash has turned out to be a hit with most everyone who’s had it. It’s an excellent way to take advantage of the big flavor of top-of-the-line bacons. The bacon is the headliner rather than just a couple of strips alongside another main dish. I like making it with the dry-cured intensity of the Broadbent’s, Benton’s, Father’s or Edwards’, but it really would work with any good bacon.

You can make the recipe a day or two in advance if you like, then reheat it in a skillet when you’re ready to serve. Regardless, you’ll want to cook both the bacon and potatoes and let them cool before you move on to the rest of the recipe. Serve with rye toast and a couple of poached eggs if you like, as well.

INGREDIENTS:

4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

10 ounces sliced bacon (about 5 to 7 slices), lightly cooked and chopped

2 pounds potatoes (I like Yukon Golds, German Butterballs or others of that ilk), steamed over salted water until tender, then diced with the skins on

1/4 cup heavy cream

Coarse sea salt to taste

Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste

PROCEDURE:

Melt the bacon fat in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and cook, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes, until soft.

Sprinkle the flour over the wilted vegetables and stir well to avoid lumps. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly to keep from sticking, until the flour blends with the bacon fat into a thickened roux.

Add the broth, a bit at a time, stirring well after each addition so the mixture stays smooth and creamy. The sauce should coat the back of your spoon before you add more liquid. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce.

Continue simmering the sauce over moderate heat until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the bacon and potatoes and mix well. Add the cream and cook, stirring, a few more minutes. Stir in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, or cool and reheat in a skillet until you get a nice golden brown crust.

Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish


Kieron’s Grilled Plantain with Mustard and Bacon

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

My local grocery store had ripe plantains (dark brown skins), so it was time to try this recipe. I had two plantains. I didn’t have any English dried mustard, so I used what I had. Here’s the  plantains with the mustard paste on them:

PlantainswMustard

The recipe said I’d only need 2 to 3 slices of bacon per plantain; maybe my plantains were a bit large, but I ended up using more like 5 slices per. I got the Arkansas peppered bacon – I’ve become a big fan of Balinisian long pepper these days!  I did try using the skewers to hold the bacon in place:

JwithSkewer

but I was too clumsy for it, or maybe I had too much bacon! But in the end I just wrapped them. (I thought about using toothpics later – next time.)

Plantains_uncooked

I did all the cooking under the broiler (didn’t set up the grill) so I turned the broiler temp down to 400 instead of 500 after the first 5 minutes, since the bacon was getting black on the edges. I broiled it for about 20 minutes total, and turned them a couple of times. The bacon did come a bit loose without the skewers or toothpics as it cooked, but still held together pretty well. When it was nicely sizzling and clearly done I pulled it out of the oven.

cooked_plantains

I cut them up into 1-inch chunks, and made sure each chunk had a nice bit of bacon with it, and brought it over to my cohousing community’s dinner in the common house as an appetizer. It was very well received! Very filling, due to the starchy plantains. A nice combination of textures, with the soft plantain and chewy bacon with the sharpness of the mustard to cut the starch.

Here’s the recipe, from page 170 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon:

When Kieron Hales, sous chef at the Roadhouse, first told me about this recipe, I thought it sounded a bit crazy. But, lo and behold, it’s actually delicious. Kieron hails (sorry, couldn’t resist) from England, but he learned this dish while he was working in Maine, from a Jamaican-born chef. The recipe works either on the grill or under the broiler, and you can make it with either ripe plantains or bananas. The latter will of course be somewhat sweeter, but both versions are quite good.  Kieron recommends making it with a thickly sliced, very smoky bacon—consider Broadbent’s, Edwards’ or Benton’s. It’s also very good with the long pepper bacon from Arkansas—the tropical flavors of the plantains and bananas go well with the equatorial accent of the long pepper.
So yeah, it sounds strange, but tastes darned good!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons dried mustard (preferably Colman’s English)

1/4 cup water

4 large ripe plantains (their skins will be mottled or black) or bananas

4 teaspoons freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper

8 to 12 slices bacon (each plantain requires 2 to 3 slices)

Procedure:

Soak a handful of wooden skewers in water for at least 1 hour or overnight. (I used 6-inch bamboo skewers, but toothpicks will work, as well.)

Mix the dried mustard and water together with a fork until it forms a paste. Let stand for 30 minutes so that the mustard’s flavor can “bloom.”

If using the grill, bring to medium-high heat. Alternatively, you can do the whole recipe, start to finish, under the broiler.

Rub each plantain with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the mustard paste and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon pepper. Wrap each plantain in bacon slices, overlapping by one-third the width of each slice as you go. Secure bacon to the plantain by inserting skewers crosswise and at angles as necessary.

Place the dressed plantains atop an oiled grill. If the plantains are very ripe, grill them for about 5 minutes, then turn and repeat on the other side for another 5 minutes. If the plantains are less ripe—with yellower skins—you’ll want to keep them on the grill longer (about 8 to 9 minutes per side).

Carefully remove the plantains to a baking sheet and place under the broiler for another 15 minutes, or until the bacon is crisped and the plantains are caramelized.

Take the pan from the broiler, carefully remove the skewers and cut the plantains into chunks. Serve hot, with some English mustard on the side for dipping.

Serves 4 as a side dish, or 10 to 12 as an appetizer


Booksigning and bacon tasting with Ari in Oakland, CA

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Ari will be doing a booksigning and bacon tasting on November 12, 2009 at The Pasta Shop, 5655 College Ave, Oakland, California, 4:30-6:30 pm. Please head on over there if you’re in the area!