Archive for ‘Bacon’

July 18, 2012

BFFs | Trout and Bacon

I understand the problem as well as anyone: we’re told to eat fish for its health benefits, but it’s a challenging ingredient that leaves us either nervous or unfulfilled.  We’re afraid to eat it, and when we do we’re hungry later.  Well I have the solution — trout paired with bacon.

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October 2, 2011

Local Foods Week | Brining Two Kinds of Pork

I haven’t made a whole lot of pork lately.  I’ve been swooning over spice-rubbed chicken, braising all manner of cuts beef, and grilling plenty of fish.  I think pork needs its due.  I am a big fan, particularly of bacon and pork belly.  It must be the fat.  But what about the old standby favorites?  I think I’ve been shying away from cuts like pork chops and fresh hams simply because, at first blush, seem kind of mundane.

Enter brining.  A great primer, including a simple ratio, from Cooks Illustrated can be found here.  But in a nutshell, this technique of soaking in a salt, sugar and spice “stock,” really livens up the flavor of the more lean cuts of pork and bumps up the much needed moisture.  It doesn’t require any silly flavor injectors and it’s foolproof.   Adjust the flavors and seasonings as you wish and you’ll have a dinner either as familiar or exotic as you want it to be.  Add in some locally and thoughtfully raised pork, mine was from Curly Tail Organic Farm, and the noble pig doesn’t get much better than this.

Basic Brine, make 1 quart per pound of meat

1 qt water

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March 15, 2011

Irish Cooking | Pork Rib Stew

So much of Irish cooking was born from necessity.  But from Ireland’s extraordinary hardships came simple, delicious farmhouse dishes that rely on cheap, available ingredients.  In this case, there are a mere four ingredients – pork ribs, bacon, onions, and of course, potatoes.  Then, with a little heat and a little time, they transform themselves into a comforting, nourishing, almost healing stew that makes the house smell beautiful.  Plus, its inexpensive and bountiful – it easily makes enough to feed a sizable group.  So make the most of not very much and bring the family around your table.  And that’s a lot more Irish than green beer.

Irish Pork Rib Stew, Serves 6

2 lb pork ribs (not baby back), cut into six pieces

3 slices bacon, chopped

1 large onion, sliced

4 large potatoes, approximately 2 lbs, two peeled and sliced, two peeled and cubed

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add bacon.  Cook until lightly browned, then add ribs and cover with four inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Skim off any fat and foam that rises to the surface.  Add onions and potatoes and cook for another three hours.

Serve with brown bread and homemade butter.  (The easiest recipe which I’ll post tomorrow.)

Playlist included Only Shallow, by My Bloody Valentine.

February 3, 2011

Icepocalypse: The Dinner | Italian Sausages with White Beans

Everyone had been told to batten down the hatches, so we did.  Buying a whopping two days worth of dinners and lunches at once.  Persephone is a daily grocery shopper.  It is somewhat a product of my Europhile nature, as well as, and perhaps more importantly,  a morning activity with Cherub.  The life of a SAHG (stay at home goddess) is nothing, if not glamorous.  Besides, who knows what I will want to cook for dinner?  I just can’t muster a week’s menu.  I applaud those who can, but…  Oh!  Excuse me, this was a major digression.  Perhaps it’s the lack of adult conversation as well.  Ahem.  Moving on.

There are few things that seem to go better together with a fennel spiced sausage than some simple creamy white beans.  Not the kind from a can; the kind that take a couple of hours on very low heat, simmering with olive oil, garlic, carrots, bay, thyme.  Polenta comes in a very close second for me.  Those beans, paired with sausages braised with onions and served on top of a bit of cabbage with fried capers, make for a bowl of sustenance good enough to fend off any nasty old ice storm.  And the leftovers are perfect for tea the next day.

White Beans with Italian Sausages and Cabbage, serves three, with leftovers

For the beans:

1 16 oz bag of dried white beans, (Cannellini or Great Northern)

1 slice of bacon, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely diced

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January 31, 2011

Obsession with Breakfast Continues | Chicken and Waffles

It seems to me that I’m going through a breakfast phase.  Eggs at most meals, bacon at dinner.  This is good for the winter.  It’s cold, it’s comforting to have maple syrup on the table.  It reminds you that the sap will be rising again soon, tapped by our friends the farmers.  Rising sap means spring can’t be too far off.  Tell that to the ice storm that’s supposed to be coming through tonight, but I digress from my pretty story.

Saturday morning, Cherub wanted waffles.  Being the loving, indulgent mother I am – don’t snicker derisively, you – I set to doing it right after a large cup of coffee away.  Curses that we were out of butter.  No matter, it seems.  Mr. James Beard himself says waffles are just delicious with bacon fat.  Well, certainly!  Now before you go shaking your head and saying, “How can a loving mother feed her child bacon fat!?!”  It’s really very easy.  You just don’t do it every day.

So a good batch of waffles were sitting in the fridge, leftover, insisting that something to be done with them.  Chicken and waffles is the obvious choice.  But I wasn’t about to serve fried chicken with those bacon-y waffles, although that would have been divine.  I opted for a lighter version, a pan seared chicken breast.

I do go for the bone in, skin on version, as it makes for a tastier, moister breast.  It’s easily de-boned before serving, takes all of about 15 seconds, really.  You have fifteen seconds, don’t you?  And if you want really, good, fresh chicken, stop by North Market Poultry and Game.  They have the very best here in Columbus, bar none.

The best way to cook a chicken breast (or two) is to season it generously with salt and pepper and sear it in a 10-inch pan that’s got some good (and hot) olive oil in it.  Let it brown very well, skin side down first, then flip it over and brown the other side as well.  Add in about a cup and a half of chicken stock, a sprig of thyme and a clove of crushed garlic, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to cook fairly slowly, turning and basting the chicken until it’s done.  Twenty to thirty minutes or so should do the trick.  Also by this time, your stock should be just about reduced to nothing.  Snug up the curved sides of the breast to the sides of the pan to get a good last bit of browning on them then pull them out to rest a few moments while you toast the leftover waffles and heat up the syrup.

To serve, remove the bones from the chicken (and the skin if you must) and slice.  Place on top of the waffle.  Add a slice of bacon or two if you want some extra protein.  Drizzle generously with maple syrup and cross your fingers spring comes sooner rather than later.

Playlist included Radioactive by Kings of Leon.

January 30, 2011

Hangover Cure | Migas

Do not get the wrong idea: Persephone is not hung over.  She doesn’t get hung over.  Let’s just get that straight first.  But I do know that this is a malady that occasionally affects those fashionable folks who enjoy a nice meal with a few (extra) glasses of wine.

A sturdy, spicy breakfast lunch the next morning midday with a good strong bit of coffee is just what Persephone thinks you need, if you’re one of those fashionable folks.  And the refreshing thing about this is that you can be as creative as you like (or as creative as your refrigerator allows). The only basics you need are pork, eggs and tortillas.

For the migas this morning, it was a mash-up between a Spanish version that’s heavy on the pork products and the Tex-Mex version that’s heavy on the tortillas.  Typically the Spanish version uses breadcrumbs, but we have nine zillion corn tortillas in the fridge so there you have it.

To get started, I fried up some chorizo that was sliced into thick chunks, and a few slices of bacon that had been chopped into five or six pieces.  While this was frying over slowish heat, I soaked some corn tortillas in water that was seasoned with salt, some slices of jalapeno, and smashed garlic.  I also chopped up a couple of tiny potatoes and some fennel tops that we had in the fridge.  I whisked a couple of eggs together and added in a handful of watercress that was feeling lonely.   When the bacon and chorizo was just about crisp, I drained the tortillas and dried them then sliced them into thin strips.  I tipped in the tortillas, potatoes and fennel and let it cook a few minutes until most had crisped a bit (not too much, mind you) then added in the eggs and cress.  Stir and cook until the eggs are the consistency you like then divide into bowls and top with a bit of chopped cilantro.

This is pretty seasonal right now, but certainly in the warmer months, you might add tomatoes or kernels of  summer corn instead of the fennel and potatoes.  There’s also a plethora of cheese choices you can add to this everything from cojita and queso fresco (my favorite) to the shredded four cheese blends you get at the store (not so much my favorite, but entirely do-able).

Make sure you set a bottle of sriracha on the table for those that need a bit more help waking up and facing the day.

Playlist included Help, I’m Alive, by Metric.

January 16, 2011

Breakfast Tacos, San Antonio Style

I grew up eating breakfast tacos.  Notice I did not refer to these as breakfast “burritos.”  You won’t find vegetables in these.  They are not some sort of fancy omelet in a flour tortilla.  They are typically leftovers and eggs wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.  They usually consist of some combination of the following : Meat (carnitas, chorizo, bacon, brisket, carne guisada), beans (usually refried), cheese (usually grated cheddar), potatoes, and eggs (scrambled).

In San Antonio, where I spent my early years, breakfast tacos are more popular than donuts.  There are places you can pick up a dozen for work (you’ll always get brownie points for this).  My favorite little taco place (read: hole in the wall) has housemade flour tortillas and a seemingly endless variety of fillings for your taco.  My favorite: bean, egg and bacon.

Thousand Oaks Breakfast Tacos

Refried Beans (mine were pinto, that I pureed, then reheated in bacon drippings and seasoned with chili powder and ground cumin)

Scrambled Eggs (I used Holistic Acres)

Slices of meaty fried bacon (mine was Neuske’s)

Small (not burrito sized, y’all) flour tortillas (I heat mine directly over my gas burners on the stove. Use tongs if you must, but I’ve got asbestos fingers and do it by touch, flipping and rotating until they bubble).

Assemble your taco with a base of beans, a spoonful of egg and a slice of bacon.  Fold in half as you would a soft taco.  Nothing more complicated than that.  Serve with hot sauce or pico de gallo.  This morning I didn’t have salsa so I used Sriracha for the heat.

Playlist included Give Back the Key to My Heart, by San Antonio boy, Doug Sahm.

 

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