It may be that Food Network has tapped into the collective subconscious of the food world with their recent Bacon magazine issue. As I perused my Twitter feed today I discovered this link to the James Beard Foundation’s website:
There you will find links to recipes that raise bacon to decadent heights, like Bacon Confit with Chiles and Pickles, and A Perfect Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich. I can hear the Sirens singing now.
This blog post is brought to you by the delightful word kummerspeck. It’s a German word that refers to excessive weight gain that results from emotional eating. We don’t have a word like that in English, but I love the literal English translation for kummerspeck: grief bacon!
Bacon has definitely been a source of kummerspeck around here in the past, but I am very proud to say that as hard has this winter has been to wait out, there has been no kummerspeck this year! Since October, I have lost 25 pounds, and avoided emotional eating almost completely.
More on that in another post; now, onto the bacon!!
The photo at the top is of Ina Garten’s Caramelized Bacon, all dressed up and ready to go in the oven. She calls this “the most outrageous hors d’oeuvre” she’s ever made, and I cannot argue with her. If you were going to gain a little kummerspeck, this bacon would be the way to go. It’s dangerously simple to prepare, and just as dangerous to eat. If you only want to eat one piece, I would advise you to just walk away from the plate. It’s your only hope.
I would slap your hand if you reached for another piece. That’s how good this is. The bacon strips are cut in half crosswise, topped with a mixture of brown sugar, pecans, salt, pepper, cayenne, and maple syrup that’s been blitzed together in the food processor, and baked in the oven until good and brown and crispy. It continues to crisp up a bit during its rest on the plate. The only thing that will keep you from eating it at that point is that it’s too hot to pick up.
This is the mise en place for Pasta with Bacon and Leeks. This recipe is a familiar refrain; bacon and a cream sauce on pasta. But you can’t argue with this classic combination, because it’s nearly perfect. It’s creamy, smoky, salty, nutty, earthy, toothsome, and makes you say “yum” when you take your first bite. There’s nothing better, except maybe Ina’s bacon. It comes together very quickly, so do prep all the ingredients before you begin. You’re looking at leeks, bacon, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and mezzi rigatoni, along with salt and pepper of course.
Here are the beautiful leeks cooking in the bacon drippings.
Here’s the bacon. Really, how many shots of meat sizzling in pork fat does one blog need? I wonder if there’s a Guinness World Record for that. I might be in contention.
Here’s the finished dish. Grab a spoon.
I served Swiss chard alongside the pasta, and the evil genius portion of my brain said, “Hey, Ina’s bacon would be really amazing on top of the Swiss chard!” The evil genius was right. (She usually is.) I crumbled a piece of the Caramelized Bacon over the Swiss chard, and it added just the right amount of heat and spice to that hearty green.
I hope you’re not tired of bacon yet, because I’m just getting started. Blame Food Network. Blame Winter.
Or, just cook bacon with me. I’ll see you back here soon, on the Road.