Roasted Bacon-Coated Brussels Sprouts (with Assorted Bacon-Coated Roots)

Posted on February 10, 2012. Filed under: bacon, recipe, vegetable | Tags: , , , , , |

Sick of the bacon-on-everything trend yet? It’s gotten a bit silly, hasn’t it? It can certainly be argued that this trend directly corresponds to the recent general improvement of bacon quality (so many hardwood smoked bacons…take that Oscar Meyer!) in America. However, this trend has also resulted in people thinking it’s a good idea to give bacon lovers remarkably silly bacon-related gifts, and enthusiasts producing improperly made bacon ice creams (protip: a bit of rendered bacon fat in the mix is a good idea, but don’t mix the bacon bits into the ice cream until right before serving). This has cast a shadow of the wonderful world of bacon. Well, overexposure will do that.

But there is hope, my friends. That hope lies in another trendy tidbit of food: the once hated Brussels sprout. Everyone loves a Brussels now (almost). Properly cooked, they’re quite terrific. So why not combine the two, add some complimentary root vegetables, and toss in a maple syrup vinaigrette? I’ve conducted an experiment. Result? Success. Grand success.

Render 1/2 lb. Diced Bacon.
Separate cooked bacon from rendered fat. Save both.

Add to a large bowl:
1lb. Brussels Sprouts, quartered
1/2 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes, cubed
1/4 lb. Carrots, cubed
1/4 lb. Parsnips, cubed

1-2 Large Shallots, quartered
Add ALL (!!!!) the reserved bacon fat to the bowl, plus salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Transfer to a baking sheet, and roast in a 425F oven for 35-45 minutes. Everything should be nicely browned. Sprouts should be crunchy–not soggy.

For the Maple-Bacon Vinaigrette:
2.5 Tbs. Maple Syrup
2 Tbs. Red Wine Vinegar
1.5 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Tsp. Dijon Mustard
Pinch Salt and Two Pinches Pepper

Toss roasted vegetables with the vinaigrette and reserved bacon bits. Add salt if necessary.

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Market Demo: Bean and Bacon Stew

Posted on September 12, 2011. Filed under: bacon, local, recipe, vegetable | Tags: , , , , , , |

Back from an extended vacation. I’m sure y’all had a hard time sleeping while you were waiting for the next post. Well, sleep now, friends, sleep now. The new post is here.

I spent Saturday morning cooking in the Chef’s Demo Tent at a local farmers’ market (Farmers@Firehouse, sponsored by Slow Food Pittsburgh). I decided to challenge myself by not planning anything in advance; I was going to let the market dictate what I should make. This could sound daunting to some people, but I thought it would be a good test of my creativity. And it was.

It was exciting for me to walk around the market, choose delicious-looking food, and then immediately start preparing it. What a wonderful way to cook! We’re in a bit of transition in Pittsburgh–summer fruit and veg are on their way out, but the autumn harvest is yet to be bountiful. No matter. I was able to find a great combination of ingredients: green & yellow beans, heirloom eggplant, tender kale, onions, ripe tomatoes, and locally produced bacon.

I promised quite a few people the recipe. Here it is, more or less*:

Begin by sauteing:
3/4 lb. Bacon, diced
When bacon is crisp, remove from pan.
Save delicious bacon fat.
Leave 2-3 Tbs. bacon fat in pan.

While the bacon is cooking, boil:
2 lbs. Green Beans,  cut into 1.5 inch pieces*
Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until tender.
Plunge cooked beans into ice water until ready to use.
Boil one bunch Kale (cut into strips) the same water.
Plunge kale into ice water too.
Reserve One Cup Cooking Liquid

Cook, in the bacon fat:
3 Cups Diced Eggplant
1 Medium Onion, diced

Once eggplant is cooked, it’s time to assemble.

Add, to a pot:
Eggplant & Onions
Reserved Cooking Liquid
1 Cup Chicken Stock

Simmer for 5-10 minutes, and thicken if desired.

Before serving, top with:
Cooked Bacon
1 Cup Diced Tomato*

*I was cooking on the fly, so I wasn’t measuring anything at all, so you’re going to have to challenge yourself to create balance!
* You can use any combination of fresh beans: green/yellow/purple/wax.
* The time for ripe heirloom tomatoes is fading, my friends. I think this will work with a quality canned tomato, but it won’t be quite so sweet.

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Beans and Bacon

Posted on August 8, 2011. Filed under: bacon, recipe, vegetable | Tags: , , , , |

I hadn’t planned on posting two recipes in a row that were basically titled X and Y. It’s not a new theme, promise. I actually had a few recipes lined up to publish, but I just got a fancy-pants new camera and wanted to show off a photo of the first thing I cooked since purchasing this camera. I’ve come to realize that as much as I think a food blog should be about content, pretty pretty pictures are also very nice. We do eat with our eyes and all that. So, perhaps my new camera will inspire new pretty pretty pictures.

But honestly, for me it’s all nonsense if the food doesn’t taste good. Visual stimulation means nothing without gustatory satisfaction. This dish is both visually and gastronomically pleasing. Hooray!

Boil, for seven minutes:
3/4 lb. Green/Yellow/Wax Beans, halved
Immediately plunge beans into ice water after boiling.

Meanwhile, saute over medium heat:
3 Slices Bacon, diced

Once bacon browns, remove it from pan.
Leave 1.5 Tbs. Bacon Grease in pan, reserve the rest for other delicious things.

Add to remaining bacon grease:
1 Shallot, diced
2 Cloves garlic, minced

Cook for one minute, and then add:
Pre-Cooked Beans, drained
1/2 Cup Diced Tomatoes
1/2 Cup White Wine
Two pinches each of Fresh Thyme and Rosemary, finely chopped

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Bacon. Pretty Pretty Bacon.

Posted on March 24, 2011. Filed under: bacon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Because sometimes you have to take a study break and post pretty pictures you took of delicious bacon.

How does a person make this delicious bacon? Magic, of course.

Or my (soon to be updated) post: Technique: Makin’ Bacon

Magic did help though. Three cheers for photo imaging software. And three more for having it designed so I could figure out how to use it.

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Home Cured Bacon, Second Attempt

Posted on May 11, 2010. Filed under: bacon, hodgepodge, patience, recipe, slow, smoke | Tags: , , , , , , , |

When Thomas H. Palmer wrote “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” I doubt he was thinking about turning uncured pork bellies into bacon. (He was encouraging school kids to do their homework.) It’s good advice, though. My first attempt at curing bacon was a bit of a failure. It was a great first try, but too too too salty. So I tried again. And this time, it turned out much better.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of time involved. You’re not actually doing much. Honestly, the most difficult thing about this project is slicing the meat to into strips.

Begin with:
Three Pounds Uncured Pork Belly*

Wash and pat dry pork belly.
Cover completely with:
One Head of Celery, juiced
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar

Leave pork in celery juice for 48 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove pork from juice, rinse, and pat dry.
Paint pork with a thin layer of:
Pure Maple Syrup

Crush, and then rub pork with:
3/4 Cup Salt
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Clove
2 Bay Leaves
1.5 Teaspoon Whole Black Pepper
1.5 Teaspoon Whole Coriander
1/2 Teaspoon Caraway Seed

6 Juniper Berries

Place rubbed pork in plastic bag, and then refrigerate for one week.  (One week!)
Turn it every day, draining excess liquid.

After one week, rinse and dry pork.
Smoke, over very low heat, for 6 hours.

Slice, and cook as you would normally cook bacon.

*Uncured pork belly can be a bit of a challenge to find. Best bet is to ask a neighborhood butcher. Yes, there are still some out there. I got an amazing cut from McCall’s Meat and Fish Company. You really will notice a difference in quality.

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