Sure, you can buy a pound of bacon and fry up the whole thing, make a load of pancakes, dowse the whole caboodle in maple syrup, and walk around the rest of the day in a lugubrious, but satisfied state. Or you can take that pound of bacon and use it piecemeal, giving that smoky pork flavor to all kinds of delicious dishes.
Bacon really contains two ingredients in my mind–the meat and the fat. Sometimes they are used together, sometimes the fat is rendered from the meat, leaving a crispy wafer of salty meat that can be eaten as-is or crumbled into and over almost anything. Then the fat can be stored and used for cooking and baking, or for seasoning cast iron pots and pans.
We picked up a pound of bacon just before New Year’s. It’s not local; unfortunately, I haven’t been able to source local bacon in town. There is a butcher shop in Yankton with local bacon that is very good (both the shop and the bacon), but when do I get to Yankton? Let me know if you’re going…
So far, I’ve made a few dishes with that pound of fatty cured pork: omelets with bacon, sweet peppers, olives, and farmer cheese and two soups: a classic potato-corn chowder with bacon and onions and yesterday’s not-so-classic, but very tasty curried red lentil with bacon.
Today’s bacon variation is my favorite oatmeal bread recipe, but with onions simmered in the bacon fat rendered from the slices that went in the omelets on New Year’s day. I sweetened with (real Vermont organic) maple syrup from my half-gallon stash.
Generally, I make bread that is a neutral medium–neither sweet nor savory. But I couldn’t resist a little smoky campfire bread this time. It’ll still be good with a tangy sweet jelly (hmm–crab apple?) and will probably be totally excellent toasted with a bit of butter to bring out the onion-y flavor.
I still have four slices left from that pound of bacon. I’ve got some dried bread chunks, too (if H hasn’t eaten them all–they’re on top of the fridge where he can see them, but I can’t without pulling the tray down). With a few eggs, some kind of greens, plus some onions, cheese, and the rest of the milk, I think a strata (savory bread pudding) is in order for dinner tonight or breakfast tomorrow.
That will leave the fat rendered from those final four slices for some other project. I’m thinking it could be worked into some duck sausage….