Posts Tagged ‘Bacon’

Angels on Horseback, and Clam Pigs

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

I did these two recipes as small test batches, to see if I liked them before I served them to guests.

I went to Monahan’s fish market, and got three Atlantic oysters (from Cape Cod – I think they were called Wiona but it might have been Wionna), and three Littleneck clams, all fresh and they shucked them for me and put them in containers with their juice.

I had Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon, sliced medium-thick. I cut three slices in half.

Here’s the raw ingredients; the oysters are larger than the clams, they’re the lighter colored ones, on the left. I preheated the broiler to 500.

I wrapped the shellfish – the bacon was thick and the shellfish small and slippery, so I did not wrap them tightly – about 1-1/2 times around with the half slice of Nueske’s. Using a toothpick to hold it together was essential. The oysters were about twice as large as the clams so easier to wrap.

The clams are smaller, they are the row on the left, oysters on the right.

A closer look at the wrapped oysters.

I put them on a piece of tin foil right on the surface of the baking sheet, I did not use a rack.

I broiled them 5 minutes, then flipped them, and broiled 5 minutes more. They gave off a surprising amount of juice – maybe because I’m used to doing this with dates and prunes!

Took them out, let them cool a minute or two, and then dove in.

A nice chewy, juicy, meaty mouthful. Eating them side by side, I can say that the oysters really shone – their flavor came through very well and  was a wonderful complementary flavor with the mild, lightly smokey Nueske’s. The clam flavor was harder to find, it got a bit lost in the bacon. That said, I still ate them all, each a nicely textured, flavorful mouthful!

So I would definitely make the bacon wrapped oysters again for an appetizer. Yum. And if you have an abundance of clams, this is a fine way to go as well, it’s just a more subtle flavor.

The recipe follows, from Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon, pages 163-165:

ANGELS ON HORSEBACK

The angels, in this case, are oysters — their little frilly flaps get all fluffy and angelically winglike under the heat of the broiler. Angels on Horseback is often presented as fancy food, but it’s in really basic books too, like V. M. Sherlock’s Apalachicola Seafood Recipes — a small, softcover, brown pamphlety thing that I like a lot. Ms. Sherlock calls them by the unfancy name “broiled oysters,” which just reinforces my belief that they’re really a pretty darned down-to-earth way to eat. I like to use Arkansas long pepper bacon—it’s got a nice bit of spice, but the moderate smoke level keeps the wood from completely overtaking the dish. Other bacons from the lighter smoke end of the spectrum, like Vande Rose, Nodine’s and Nueske’s, will also work well. As for the angels, any good oyster will work. I love Apalachicolas, which we bring to the Roadhouse regularly from Florida. I’ll just share this note from Sherlock, who wrote that, “Throughout the ages, men have argued over the superior flavor of oysters of their regions, but until they have tasted the Apalachicola oyster, they’re in no position to judge.”

Ingredients:

8 oysters, shucked

4 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise

Procedure:

Heat the broiler.

Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each oyster and then run a toothpick through the whole thing to hold it together. Place on a baking sheet, run it under the broiler and cook until the bacon is done, giving it a turn halfway through. If you want the bacon well done you can cook it part way in a pan before wrapping it around the oysters.

Cook carefully: as V. M. Sherlock says, “Local appetites may differ but most will agree that you should never wash an oyster and never overcook one.”

CLAM PIGS

This is the same dish as Angels on Horseback, but made with fresh clams instead of oysters. Gotta love the name, which I came across in Sherlock’s Apalachicola cookbook!

Ingredients:

8 fresh clams, shucked
4 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise

Procedure:

Follow the instructions for Angels on Horseback, substituting the raw clams for oysters.


Pimento Cheese with Bacon

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Since I was home by my self last weekend I decided to make a half-recipe, I knew I would eat the whole thing regardless of if I made a half recipe or the whole thing!  I had 2-year-aged Grafton cheddar, Hellman’s mayo, a jar of organic roasted red peppers, a good olive oil from Chile, freshly ground pepper, and cayenne. Here are my prepped ingredients:

pimento ingreds

The cheddar was somewhat crumbly, I ended up kind of crushing the larger crumbles against the grater. Good enough though.  I think I used a bit more than half the amount of roasted red pepper. I did remember in time to use half the amount of cayenne, which is good – easy to add more later if needed!

I mixed it up on a bowl, and gave it a taste – very creamy and flavorful.

pimento cheese

Then I covered it and put it in the fridge for lunch the next day.

Next day, I fried up 2 hefty slices of Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon:

Neuske's bacon

til done but not too done (a bit bendy still), and cut them into inch-long or so pieces. I topped seven gluten-free crackers (a brand called Glutino, which is very much like saltines, not like rice crackers) with a generous spoonful of the pimento cheese, laid a strip of bacon on top, put them out on a plate to admire, and then ate them all right away.

pimento cheese n bacon

The tangy cheddar flavor went great with the sweet bacon, and the smoky notes from both the roasted red pepper and the light smoke from the bacon complemented eachother perfectly. The textures went well too – crunchy cracker, soft cheese spread, chewy bacon. A fine appetizer. Or in my case, a fine lunch.

The full recipe follows from page 167 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon:

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 pound sharp cheddar, coarsely grated (we use the two-year-old raw milk cheddar from Grafton Village)

1 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Hellmann’s up here: out West the same mayo is sold under the brand name Best Foods)

1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers

3/4 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper

Scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Pinch coarse sea salt

PROCEDURE:

Fold all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Mix well.

Eat.

Repeat as regularly as you like. It’s addictive: as more than one person around here has said more than once, “It’s kind of good on pretty much everything, isn’t it?”

Serves . . . well, it’s kind of hard to say. A real addict could probably consume this entire recipe in a single setting. Being more conservative, let’s say it’s enough to serve 8 as an appetizer. You’ll probably have to test it on your family and friends to see how much they can eat!


Hangtown Fry

Monday, January 18th, 2010

My first venture into the shellfish arena of bacon book recipes. I love oysters in any form so I figured, hard to go wrong with this.

I got 5 freshly shucked oysters from our local wonderful seafood market, Monahan’s. The oysters were from Cape Cod, and I think Mike Monahan said they were called Wiona oysters, but it might have been Wionna.

I had 3 large free range eggs, and 3 thick slices of Nueske’s Applewood Smoked bacon.

Neuskes

My deviation from the recipe though (which I don’t recommend!) was to use Glutino gluten-free crackers, rather than oyster crackers. I don’t know of a gluten-free source for oyster crackers, yet.

Glutino crackers

Now, these are excellent crackers, the best I’ve found that are gluten-free when you want a cracker that is more like a saltine, instead of a rice cracker. But I learned, that if you can, use oyster crackers for this recipe, or, put a lot more effort than I did into crushing the crackers very finely. In hindsight, oyster crackers are very thin, and so crush up fine quite easily. (This is probably why they are called oyster crackers, eh? Duh.) And very fine is what you want. (Mine was still quite tasty, but I did not get a browned crust all over the oyster, which I think is the goal.)

So anyway, I coated the oysters in the too-chunky crushed crackers, and let them sit.

oystersincrackers

Meanwhile I chopped up the bacon, and fried it til crisp, and took it out of the pan, leaving the fat.

baconbits

Then in went the oysters, for about 2 mintues as directed, and my cracker crust did get nicely golden brown, just not a uniform coating on the oysters.

Oystersfrying

Then this last part of the recipe was very quick – the oysters cooked for just 2 minutes, then in go the beaten eggs, bacon, salt, and pepper, and it only needed to cook for probably another 2 minutes, gently stirring, and it was done.

hangtownFryinthepan

Was a hearty dish, more than I can usually face for breakfast but excellent for a brunch or lunch. I love the flavors of the oysters and bacon together. I had used 3 slices Nueske’s but I think only 2 are needed. (Nueske’s slices are fairly large though.) If you like oysters this is a great dish and super-quick to make.

finished hangtownfry

The full recipe follows, from Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon: Stories of Pork Bellies, Hush Puppies, Rock ‘n’ Roll Music and Bacon Fat Mayonnaise, page 158:

Oysters, eggs and bacon in one really good all-American dish, Hangtown Fry is a California classic that’s long been one of the most popular items on the Roadhouse brunch menu. I love it because it’s simple to make, it’s delicious and it’s got a great story to boot. I like to use a dry-cured bacon like Broadbent’s because that’s the sort of intense, long-cured bacon that Gold Rush-era cooks would likely have been working with.

The story of Hangtown Fry takes you to a northern California town originally known as Old Dry Diggins, then as Hangtown and now Placerville. Back in Gold Rush days it was a prominent supply town – many of the area’s miners went there to restock and cut loose, and, while they were at it, often got themselves into a bit of trouble. The name Hangtown came about in the middle of the nineteenth century, when three bad guys were strung up on the branches of a big old oak in the center of town. I’ve been told that the stump of that old oak is still “stuck in the mud” (so to speak) in the basement of a bar called The Hangman’s Tree (which you’ll be able to find quickly by the body hanging from a noose off the front of the building).

The dish is said to have originated at the now-defunct El Dorado Hotel, just across the street from the hanging tree. Legend has it that a miner rolled into town with gold from a fresh strike and ordered the saloonkeeper to serve up his most special dish. The cook offered a choice of three high-end options: oysters, eggs (hard to transport and hence costly) and bacon. The miner told him to toss all three into one dish, and Hangtown Fry was born.

It’s a very versatile recipe – great for brunch, lunch or a light supper. Don’t skimp on the egg quality – remember, they were a luxury in mid-nineteenth-century Hangtown and remain a key component of the dish, not just a way to hold the oysters and bacon together.

Since I almost never see single-serving recipes in cookbooks, I decided to design this one that way. But of course the quantities are easily increased for any number of diners. You can vary the number of oysters according to how much gold you’ve got in your pouch.

INGREDIENTS:

4 tablespoons oyster crackers, crushed

3 to 6 fresh oysters, shucked

5 ounces sliced bacon (about 2 to 3 slices), chopped

1-1/2 teaspoons bacon fat

3 large eggs, beaten

1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper

PROCEDURE:

Dredge the oysters in the cracker crumbs. Leave them resting for at least 10 minutes so that the crumbs bond with the oysters.

In a non-stick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from the pan, leaving the bacon fat. Reduce the heat a bit and add the additional measure of fat. When hot, add the oysters and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring gently, until the crumb coating is lightly browned.

Add the beaten eggs, salt and pepper, and stir gently. Add the bacon. Cook over low heat, stirring gently every 30 seconds or so, until the eggs are done as you like them.

Serve with San Francisco sourdough toast and “Folsom Prison Blues” playing in the background.

Serves 1 generously as a main dish, or 2 as a smaller side dish


New Year’s Eve – Benedictine with Bacon

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

We throw a New Year’s Eve party every year, and while our guests bring lovely snacks to share we always make some too to seed the food table with. This year of course I decided mine should be bacon-based. So, I chose the Benedictine with Bacon recipe from the Bacon book.

But first, I also made one of my favorites that I’ve blogged about before – the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with a sliver of Balinese long pepper. But this time I cut the dates in half, and used 1/3 slice of Broadbent’s bacon per half-date (although I should say, Broadbent’s slices are very long, so with a standard piece of bacon you may need half a slice per rather than a third of a slice). This way I could make a lot more of them. I used the full amount of long pepper in each half though – I love long pepper! And my guests seemed to as well. They were a big hit. Here’s an in-progress photo:

minibaconwrappeddates

On to the Benedictine. Here’s my ingredients:

benedictineingredients

I decided to make a double recipe, but I didn’t need to – had plenty left over. Happily it tasted just as good the next day though.  I did make three variations, just in that I used regular bread for some, gluten-free bread for some, and for some I did not put the bacon on top, for the party go-ers who don’t eat pork. (The vegetarian ones were the only kind I had left near the end of the party – all the bacon-topped ones were snapped up fast!)

First you peel and de-seed the cucumbers. This always seems a bit odd, in that it seems like you’re getting rid of most of the cucumber when you take out all the “guts”, but these cukes were large and really there was plenty left.

cukes

Then I grated the cucumber, and put it in a sieve and squeezed out the water. And chopped up some onion.

gratedcukes

The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of chopped onion, for 1 cucumber and 10 oz of cream cheese. I was using two cukes and 20 oz of cream cheese, but decided to hold the line at 2 tablespoons of onion and I’m glad I did – that was plenty. Maybe my onion was extra powerful. But anyway, then I put the onion, cucumber, and 20 ounces of Zingerman’s Creamery cream cheese in the food processor and blended it til smooth, and then scooped it out into a bowl, ground in some fresh pepper, and probably 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt. (I’m a salt fiend.)

cukesncreamcheese

Then put it in the fridge for a couple hours. During that time, I cooked 8 slices of Broadbent’s bacon, on a rack in the oven, at 350 F, for 20 minutes or so. I watch it closely, since I’ve overcooked Broadbent’s before. It is a dry-cured bacon so has less water than conventional bacon, and cooks faster I find. And its a bit deceptive in how it looks, too – it gets stiff and dry when overdone, but doesn’t look burned, so in order to tell if its done I’m looking at both the color and the flexibility – I want to take it out while it still has some bend to it.

I patted the bacon with paper towel to take off some of the fat, and set it aside for a little while, until I was ready to assemble. Just before the party, I toasted some good white bread, and some gluten-free white bread too. (There is a bakery in Toledo that makes decent gluten-free bread that my grocery store carries, called Pure and Simple. It can’t approach the scrumptious-ness of real  bread, but its much better than some of the others we’ve tried.) I cut the crusts off just because it seemed the thing to do – maybe I was having flashbacks to a high tea I ate at Harrod’s in London when I was in high school. I put the two breads on three different plates (the third plate for the bacon-free), and took the Benedictine out of the fridge.

It had thickened some, but was still a bit runnier than I had thought it would be.  Maybe its because I was using Zingerman’s Creamery cream cheese – which has no guar gum, the standard thickener for commercial cream cheese. But it tasted wonderful – light, fresh, and cucumbery with a gentle onion bite – so it was way worth it to not have guar gum in there!

I spooned a bit onto each piece of toast (probably between 2 to 3 teaspoons per), broke the Broadbent’s up into inch-long pieces and placed a piece carefully on top, on two of the three plates, and served!

benedictine

Here’s the snack table that we set out, and our guests quickly filled it with more:

foodtablestart2

And here’s the snack table near the end of the evening – the two plates of Benedictine with Bacon and the Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Long Pepper were emptied long ago, but the vegetarian plate is still hanging on. It was eaten too though, just not as quickly.

foodtable

Here’s the full Benedictine recipe, from page 168-69 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon:

The credit for inventing Benedictine spread goes to Jennie Benedict, a seemingly pretty powerful personality who studied with Fannie Farmer and went on to become one of Louisville, Kentucky’s top caterers. She was the first woman to sit on a Board of Trade in the South. In 1902 she wrote a book called the Blue Ribbon Cook Book, in which she first described this spread. Over the last hundred years Benedictine has become to Louisville what paté is to Paris or baked beans are to Boston. Beyond that bit of background, I don’t have a huge heck of a lot to tell you about Benedictine other than that it’s really, really good and Louisvillians definitely do pretty uniformly seem to love it.
The first time I had it was at Lilly’s, which is one of the best restaurants in the city. It wasn’t on the menu but when I told Kathy Cary, the chef and owner, that I’d never eaten it she went straight to the kitchen and came back 10 minutes later with a plate of little Benedictine-filled finger sandwiches. I really liked the stuff, and I think pretty much anyone who likes cream cheese would like Benedictine. Every recipe calls for cream cheese, and they all have cucumber as well. Most have some onion. A few add other spices. The better the cream cheese and the cucumbers, the better it’s going to be. Many locals add green food coloring, which I think was probably a pretty common ingredient back in the early years of the twentieth century (color was an important part of the way people approached food in that era of “scientific cooking,” and the dishes of a meal were often color coded). Personally, I skip the green, but Kathy’s husband quickly reminded me that rather surreal green color is the one I’d see in most supermarket deli cases.

Part of why I like our Benedictine so much is because I’m so smitten with the traditional, hand-made cream cheese from Zingerman’s Creamery and this is a really good, regionally authentic way to eat it. I like to look at it as sort of a high-society, upper-South version of bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese (slices of pork instead of salmon makes sense when you’re hundreds of miles from the sea). The other reason is because it’s really good with bacon—Kathy made that clear by topping each of the little sandwiches with a half slice of the stuff. Which is why it’s in this book! I’d use Broadbent’s or Father’s to stay true to the Kentucky origins of the dish.

INGREDIENTS

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated

10 ounces Zingerman’s Creamery cream cheese

2 tablespoons grated onion

Coarse sea salt to taste

Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste

4 slices bacon

4 slices good white bread

PROCEDURE

Drain the grated cucumber in a fine-mesh sieve. Combine the cucumber, cream cheese and onion in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add salt and pepper. Cover and let the spread set up for a couple of hours, refrigerated, to assimilate the flavors. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
When you’re ready to serve, fry the bacon over medium heat until slightly crisp. While it’s cooking, toast the bread. When the bacon’s done, drain it (save that fat!) and cut the slices into quarters. When the toast is done, cut it into quarters as well, spread on the Benedictine and lay a bit of bacon on top. Serve on a genteel, socially acceptable platter!
Serves 4 as a side dish


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:

5StateBaconSalad2

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.

IMG_7928

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.)

CuttingBaconcuttingbacon

IMG_7931

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.

IMG_7932

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.

IMG_7939

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.

IMG_7943

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!