Archive for December, 2009

Five-State Bacon Salad

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

This is not a bacon book recipe, but Fred Sauceman, who is a professor at East Tennessee State University (and is in the Bacon book, in the section about Chocolate Gravy), recently made this dish:

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It’s a salad using these five artisanal bacons from the Bacon book, from five different states:

Benton’s (Tennessee), Broadbent (Kentucky), Edwards’ (Virginia), Arkansas Peppered, and Nueske’s (Wisconsin).

Fred elaborated: “We’ve served ‘bacon salads’; like this on several occasions, since guests really enjoy the bacon geography. In this case, I dressed the salad with a simple French vinaigrette: finely chopped shallots, red wine vinegar, Maille mustard, peanut oil, salt, and pepper. –Fred”


Weekend Pot Roast (with bacon)

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

So, this is not actually a recipe from the Bacon book. Its a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated magazine (which they called French-style pot roast), which had the irresistible combination of using bacon in the recipe, and, calling for use of a large dutch oven (since I finally acquired an enameled dutch oven last week and was eager to use it). My husband and I made this dish together, which was helpful because there were lots of steps to follow. Not difficult, just involved. Which is why I call it weekend pot roast – I could only make it on a weekend. We started at 12:45, and we sat down to eat at 6:15. However a lot of that time was just cooking time.

Here’s most of my ingredients, minus the wine and the roast.

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The main ingredient in pot roast, of course, was the 4lb boneless chuck eye roast. First I spent some time cutting out any large chunks of fat that were easily reachable, then salted it with a celtic sea salt and let it sit for an hour. Then patted it dry and tied it with butchers string.

Chuck eye roast, salted.

Bacon took a backseat rather than being the star of the show, but was still one of the “supports” in the building of an excellent dish! Here’s my hubbie dicing it, then it was sauteed, removed from the pot, and then I browned the meat in the bacon fat. (A splatter guard is helpful for this – the high heat needed for browning does make the fat fly.)

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I used Vande Rose bacon, which I had never had before. Was nicely meaty and mild flavored. Those four slices resulted in a very nice amount of fat, more than I needed for browning the roast in.

Here’s the roast when I first put it in the pot to brown.

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When it was browned on all sides I pulled the meat out of the pot. Then sauteed the diced onions and garlic, added the other broth ingredients (including a bottle of a Cotes du Rhone red wine, reduced down to 2 cups first, and the bacon goes back in too), and put the meat back in the pot, put the lid on of course, and baked it in the oven at 300 F for a couple hours.

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After 2 hours of cooking, you add the carrots and put it back in for another hour or so, and in the meantime you cook the pearl onions and mushrooms in a pan.

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When the roast is done cooking, you pull the meat out of the sauce (temporarily), add the pearl onions and mushrooms and a little gelatin to the sauce to thicken it. Then you put it all in a serving dish.

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We served it with white rice and a side of steamed greens, was excellent. Very flavorful, and good textures too – not mushy, as pot roast and veggies can easily be!


Bluefish Fried in Bacon with (not Blue) Grits

Friday, December 11th, 2009

A chilly Sunday afternoon seemed like the right time for this recipe. First, I started the grits. I did not have blue grits, so I used the Anson Mills slow-cooking yellow grits that I had. I used 3/4 cup of the dry grits to 3 cups water, for 2 adults, with about 1/4 teaspoon salt. I cooked them for 3 hours on very low flame. I eventually gave up on not having the bottom stuck on the pan at all – even if I stirred every 10 minutes it still eventually got a coating on the bottom. Not burned, just coated. So I knew that would be a “soaker” on cleanup… Here’s a “before” shot:

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After 3 hours of cooking on low the grits were quite smooth:

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When the grits were done I started the rest of the process. Here’s the bluefish from our awesome local fish market, Monahan’s, and three slices of medium-thick Edwards bacon:

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But before we get to that, a little segue – for inspiration to tackle cooking a fatty fish, here’s a recipe within a recipe – a very tasty cocktail my husband made up on the spot, he called it the “Sunday Surprise” and handed it to me as I was unwrapping the fish, was quite good:

1 oz tequila gold
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz Cointreau
3 oz mango juice

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Nice. While enjoying my cocktail, I cooked 3 slices of Edwards bacon in my large iron skillet.

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I pulled them out when done, and chopped them up and set them aside. I left in all the bacon fat, and put in the two 1/2-pound fillets of bluefish, skin side down, and covered it with my round mesh splatter-protector. Bluefish is a fatty fish, so it did splutter a lot while cooking! I didn’t time it exactly, but the fish took a little longer to cook than I thought it would, over medium heat, maybe 10 minutes. I think because the fillets were fairly thick on one end. I ended up flipping them more than once; I think I flipped it too early the first time. Resist the urge for early flipping. I tested them with a fork a few times and finally was satisfied that they were done.

While the fish was cooking, I was also steaming some brussel sprouts I had bought the day before at the farmer’s market, from a local organic farm. They only needed about 5 minutes of steaming, and then I mixed them with a little sea salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar and they were good to go.

I warmed a couple plates in the oven, spread out some grits on each plate, and put a serving of brussels on the side, as well as some pomegranite seeds – we had a ripe one and I thought the seeds would look pretty with the brussels.

(Next time I think I’d sprinkle a little more salt, and a little pepper, on top of the grits once on the plate, but before putting the fish on top.)

Then I put the fish down on top of the grits, sprinkled it with the chopped bacon, and sat down to a feast!

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The full recipe follows, from page 186-187 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon by Ari Weinzweig:

Bluefish Fried in Bacon with Blue Grits

Bluefish is one of my all-time favorite foods. But once you get off the East Coast it seems like hardly anyone knows it. This is a simple preparation, it has a great name, it’s pretty eye-catching on the plate and, most importantly, it tastes extremely terrifically good. I made it with the really superb, organic, stone-ground blue grits that we get from Glenn Roberts’ Anson Mills in South Carolina. Given that the old corn varieties ranged in color from white to red to yellow to blue and most everything in between (or even all on one cob—try Glenn’s multi-colored “speckled grits” too!), blue grits really aren’t all that strange. It’ll mess up your all-blue color scheme, but this is also good with cooked greens on the side. To get back into the blue end of the spectrum you can follow with fresh blueberries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream (no bacon) for dessert!

For the grits
INGREDIENTS
Since the cooking time is the most challenging element of this recipe, feel free to prepare a larger portion than you actually need and save some for later.

4 cups cold water

1 cup Anson Mills blue grits

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

PROCEDURE
Heat the water in a heavy four-quart stockpot. Start mixing in the grits while the water warms up, stirring regularly—I find it infinitely easier to get lump-free grits this way. Add salt and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat as low as possible. Stir a few more times, cover and cook on low for as long as you can—a good 2 to 4 hours—the long, slow cooking releases the starches and makes the grits really creamy. Once you get them cooking there’s really nothing to do but stir every 15 minutes or so.

For the fish
When the grits are good and creamy and you’re ready to eat, you can start the fish.

INGREDIENTS:
4 ounces sliced bacon (about 2 to 3 slices)(I like the dry-cured Edwards’ bacon for this one)

2 (1/2 pound) fillets fresh bluefish

Coarse sea salt to taste

Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste

Extra virgin olive oil (optional)

PROCEDURE:

Fry the bacon in a heavy-bottomed skillet over moderate heat. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the fish to the still-hot bacon fat in the skillet, skin side down (I think the skin is the best part!). Cook the fish until the skin is browned, then flip and cook quickly on the other side. If you need more fat, add a glug from your reserves or use a bit of olive oil. While the fish is cooking, chop the bacon coarsely and set aside. When the fish is almost done, set the grits into a couple of warm bowls. Place the fish on top, skin side down. Sprinkle the fat over the whole thing and top with salt, pepper and chopped bacon.
Serves 2 as a main course


Ari in San Francisco in January for bacon book events

Friday, December 4th, 2009

If you’re in the vicinity of San Francisco and would like to say hello to Ari, and maybe get a signed copy of his book, you’ll have a couple of chances this January 2010:

Saturday January 16, 2010: a book signing at Omnivore Books, 6-7 pm.

Monday January 18, 2010:  a book signing and bacon tasting at Bi Rite Market, 6-9 pm

Please see their links for more information, hope to see you!


Join Ari at a Bacon and Champagne Social!

Friday, December 4th, 2009

At 3CUPS cafe in Chapel Hill, NC, on December 9, 2009. Please see their web site for more details and contact 3CUPS  if you’d like to attend, it promises to be a festive, and very flavorful, evening!


Ari at Lantern restaurant in Chapel Hill

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Lantern  restaurant, together with Ari, will be doing a fabulous bacon dinner and booksigning on December 8, 2009. Please contact Lantern restaurant if you’re interested in attending! (They have some lovely photos on their web site, too.)

Here’s some more info from their site:

“The meal will focus on bacon from masters Allan Benton, Sam Edwards and William Johnson, homemade lardo, guanciale and acorn-fed Ossabaw pork belly as well as great local winter vegetables and apples from Diane Flynt at Foggy Ridge Cider. The dinner will be $75 per person, excluding tax and gratuity and wine pairings will be available for an additional charge. Proceeds from the dinner as well as sales of Ari’s book that evening will benefit Table, an organization dedicated to feeding hungry children in Chapel Hill-Carrboro.”