It seems to me that the citizens of the world are divided into three groups when it comes to bacon:
- Those who eschew it for religious reasons.
- Those who love it madly, deeply, unreservedly and unashamedly.
- Those who fear it.
The groups are not completely exclusive of each other of course. Strange though it may seem, some of those in the second group also belong to the third group – and how sad is that?
There are many things about bacon that can be a source of anxiety for those who are susceptible. There is the kidney-destroying salt used in curing, the potentially carcinogenic smoking process, the worrying preservatives – some ‘germs’, maybe, in spite of that salt, smoke, and chemicals. Most of all there is the FAT. Fat gives flavour of course, but we are talking here about fear, not flavour. Supermarket bacon can now be found which has so little fat it looks like oval slices of uniformly pale pink luncheon meat, and tastes about as delicious. Bacon so low fat it might as well be rhubarb.
How refreshing to go back to the days when bacon was loved for its fat – the days when every drop of it was saved to add flavour to another dish. How marvelous to find an author who positively glories in bacon fat – and the author of a book on salads too. The book is called Two hundred recipes for making salads with thirty recipes for dressings and sauces, (Olive Hulse, 1910). This author is so fearless she is even able to refer to it as ‘grease’- a word not normally welcomed in the modern kitchen in any context.
“One can always rely on the best quality of olive oil for salads, but there are those who prefer the flavor of smoked bacon fat. This is particularly true of people living in hot climates.”
The author particularly likes it with Dandelion Salad.
First remove all dead leaves and root, and wash thoroughly. Take a small handful at a time, shake free from water, and cut up fine into a mixing bowl. When all is used – have enough to make about two quarts when tossed lightly into a bowl – sprinkle over one teaspoonful of salt, one of sugar, and a pinch of mustard. Have ready as much fat bacon cut into bits as will fill a small teacup, fry to a light brown; remove the bacon and into the hot grease mince a small onion, if onion flavor is not objectionable; fry lightly; then add to the hot grease, one-half cup mild vinegar, and pour it over the dandelions and mix well. Garnish with hard-boiled eggs sliced, and serve at once.
And here is another version of bacon dressing – a proudly, fearlessly named sauce that can be “thinned” with …… cream!
Bacon Fat Sauce.
Heat five tablespoons of strained bacon or ham fat in a saucepan: add two tablespoonfuls of flour and stir to a smooth paste. Add one-eighth of a teaspoonful of paprika and one-third of a cup of vinegar diluted with one cup of boiling water, stirring constantly. When the sauce begins to boil, remove to the side of the range, and beat in two yolks of eggs. Add more salt if necessary. Do not allow the sauce to boil after the eggs are added. Chill thoroughly and serve with spinach or dandelion, endive or lettuce. The sauce may be thinned with cream if too thick.
Quotation for the Day.
We plan, we toil, we suffer -- in the hope of what? A camel-load of idol's eyes? The title deeds of Radio City? The empire of Asia? A trip to the moon? No, no, no, no. Simply to wake up just in time to smell coffee and bacon and eggs. And, again I cry, how rarely it happens! But when it does happen -- then what a moment, what a morning, what a delight!
J. B. Priestley, (1894-1984)