Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fear of Bacon.

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.

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)


Checo said...

There is no reason to be afraid of bacon, butter, cream or any other "fatty food". It´s all about common sense: you like to eat them, ok; try working out too. Nice post.

Unknown said...

In Holland some people are so afraid of grease, there is a constant talk about 'grease tax'. How about that!

Jana said...

I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and have loved every letter of it! I surely fall into the second camp of unashamed bacon lovers (with a caveat for quality). I too think it's sad the way fat of any kind has been demonized in modern culture. If you've not heard of them already in your research, you might be interested to read about the Weston A. Price Foundation, whose goal it is to bring back traditional ways of eating and nourishing ourselves. Here's a link to their website (specifically their page on fats):

srhcb said...

How about this!

Bacon-Brown Sugar Coffee Cake

6-8 slices bacon (regular or sugar or maple-cured, but NOT peppered or jalapeƱo or garlic or anything you wouldn't want in cake)
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups AP flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup uncooked rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the bundt pan.

Fry the bacon slices until crisp. Set aside to cool and drain.

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in to creamed mixture and blend.

Crumble or chop bacon slices into little pieces. Add dark brown sugar and oats, and mush together with your fingers to get the bacon and sugar blended and clumped with the oats. It will be a loose mixture, but you want the three elements to be well-acquainted with each other.

Put half the cake batter into the bundt pan (you'll have to put globs of it in--it's a thick batter), then top with half the bacon mix. Put on the rest of the batter, and top with the remaining bacon mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until done (test with a toothpick or your finger). Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before eating. If you let it cool for a few hours, the cake itself seems to taste a little sweeter. - (c) 2009 Moxie/Magda

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Everyone, thanks for your comments and my aplogies for the delayed response!
Checo: I agree, you are speaking to the converted here.
Arnold: is this intended as an obesity-preventing strategy?
Jana: welcome: do keep coming back, wont you? And thanks for the website ref.
Steve: you just made my day with that recipe! Have you made this? A thousand thanks.

ares said...

One of my concerns is about the factory farming process, and being a student I can't afford the orgo stuff. That said: bacon+peanut butter sandwich. Mmm.