Posts Tagged “bacon”

Bacon and Pea Risotto The risotto remains one of my regular weeknight meals. It's quick to prepare and, to make a plain _risotto bianco_, requires only a few basic ingredients. It's what I call a "store cupboard" meal, meaning that the ingredients it comprises all keep for a long time, either in the fridge or the cupboard, so you can always keep them in stock, waiting to be made into a delicious risotto at a moment's notice. My [winter risotto]( was essentially just a plain risotto with some cavolo nero added. I've taken a similar approach here, but with peas, to keep it seasonal. I've added some crisp bacon lardons for good measure. The salty savouriness of the bacon compliments the sweet peas perfectly and it provides a lovely colour contrast, too. --- * 140g risotto rice * 1 small onion, finely chopped * 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped * 1 glassful dry white wine * 60g parmesan cheese, finely grated * 40g unsalted butter, chopped * 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil * sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper * 200g garden peas, fresh or frozen * 150g streaky bacon, cut into lardons * 1 litre chicken stock * vegetable oil, for frying 1. The secret to a good risotto is to stir it _continuously_ as the rice is cooking. This is the only way of getting the ultimate glossy and thick texture. You won't have time to do any prep at the same time so be sure to measure all the ingredients out and get everything chopped before you start. 2. Place a medium sized frying pan over a medium heat and put in about ½ tablespoon of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the lardons and fry until crisp. Remove the lardons from the pan and set aside in a bowl. 3. Now to start the risotto. Place a medium high-sided pot or pan over a medium high heat and add the olive oil. Wait until the oil is hot, about 1 minute, then add the onion and garlic along with a pinch of salt. Immediately turn down the heat and cook slowly for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and sweet. This is the _soffrito_. 4. Now turn the heat to high and add the rice. Stir vigorously for about 30 seconds to coat the rice in the flavour of the soffrito, then add the wine. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue to stir until all the liquid has gone. From this point the risotto will take about 15 minutes.Continue to add the chicken stock, 1 ladleful at time, stirring continuously to massage and coax the starch from the rice. This creates the thick sauce of the risotto. 5. After about 15 minutes, the risotto should be ready. When you taste a grain of rice, there should be a _slight_ bite to it. If it's still quite hard, continue cooking for a bit longer. Turn the heat off, then add the chilled butter and parmesan gradually, whilst beating the risotto to emulsify it into a lovely creamy texture. If it seems too thick, add a bit of stock. As Giorgio Locatelli says "It should ripple like waves on the sea". If you run out of stock, just use boiling water. 6. At this point, add half of the peas to the risotto and stir through. Portion the risotto into bowls and garnish with the remaining peas and lardons. Finish with some parmesan shavings.

Bacon and Comte Bread I got hooked on making my own bread after visiting my aunt who makes award winning sourdough loaves. She donated me a small sample of her starter dough, which I brought home and cultured until it had grown to a decent enough size for me to begin making my own crunchy, tangy loaves. Although this is not a sourdough recipe, I feel obliged to mention my aunt as it was the impressive texture and flavour of her sourdough bread that convinced me to start making my own every day. All the best bread begins with a starter. This is either a sourdough starter (_levain_), or a _poolish_, which is a 50-50 mixture of flour and water with a small amount of yeast that’s left for about 1 day to ferment before adding more flour, yeast and water to create the actual dough. Using a starter will create a superior texture and give the bread more depth of flavour. A mature sourdough starter will give you more flavour and texture, but fact that the _poolish_ only requires 1 day of planning (compared to 1 week or more with the sourdough) makes it an attractive option. The basis of this recipe is similar to that found in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. I have simplified the method to make it a _little_ less labour intensive. It’s a compromise; the outcome of Keller’s recipe _is_ slightly superior, although not by much! This recipe is quicker and easier, and pretty-much-as-good as Keller’s. It’s still quite a bit of effort for a loaf of bread, but trust me, it’s worth it. I have added bacon and comté cheese, along with some rich tasting rapeseed oil; this is a luxurious treat. The vital crunchy crust is achieved firstly by having a _really_ hot oven before you put the bread in; secondly by scoring the bread, either down the center, across in stripes or a random pattern, with a sharp knife just before putting in the oven; and lastly by throwing a mugful of water into the bottom of the oven just before you close the door. For the final shaping and proving of the bread, you’ll need a baker’s linen cloth, or you can simply use a heavy-ish tea-towel instead. Also, a wide, flat baking sheet or stone is needed. --- * 415g warm water * 725g strong white flour * 2 ⅛ tsp dried yeast * 13g salt * 3 tbsp high quality rapeseed oil * 120g comté * 6 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon 1. Make the _poolish_; mix 125g of flour, 125g of water and ⅛ tsp yeast in a bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover lightly with cling film and leave for 24 hours. When it’s ready, it’s surface will be completely covered in tiny bubbles. 2. Mix the rest of the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl then make a well in the center. Add the water, rapeseed oil and starter and thoroughly mix to form a wet, sticky dough. 3. Turn out onto a floured surface and pat into a flat rectangle. Stretch out the right-hand two corners as far as they will go and fold back into the center. Repeat with the opposite two corners, then turn over the dough, pat into a rectangle again and repeat. Repeat this whole procedure 3 times, then place back in the bowl, cover and leave for 1 hour. 4. Stretch and fold the dough again. Cover and leave for another 1 hour. 5. Fry the bacon over a medium heat until cooked, and only lightly coloured. Leave to cool, then cut into approx 3mm squares. Cut the comté into 3mm cubes. 6. Divide the dough into 2 balls and split the bacon and comté into 2 equal portions. Knead the bacon and comté into the dough ensuring that it’s evenly distributed. Cover and leave for 20 minutes. Roll each into a baguette shape about 10 inches in length and 2.5 inches in diameter. Flour your cloth and place the loaves in, creating some folds to allow baguettes to keep their shape. Weigh the edges of the cloth down and cover with cling film. Leave for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 7. Meanwhile heat oven to 210C and get your baking tray nice and hot. Transfer the baguettes one at a time to the hot tray, score with a sharp knife and place in oven. Throw a mugful of boiling water in the bottom to generate the steam required to get your crunchy crust. Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown, and feel lighter than they look when you pick them up. Cool on a wire rack.

Stars and Stripes Bagel I was introduced to the "Stars and stripes" bagel by my brother Rob, who had had one from the Bagel Factory. The filling comprises of bacon, cream cheese, tomatoes and guacamole. It occurred to him that it'd be pretty good with the addition of sweet chilli sauce, which he requested, and he was right! He made it at home for me a couple of times and it was excellent. So this is my homage to Rob's improved stars and stripes, with a slight variation...instead of guacamole I just used slices of avocado and seasoned them nicely with sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and a little lime juice. --- * 2 bagels * 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon * 2 tomatoes * 1 avocado * 4 tablespoons of cream cheese * sweet chilli sauce * sea salt * cracked black pepper * extra virgin olive oil * 1 lime * vegetable oil 1. Lightly toast the bagels, fry the bacon until crispy. Peel the avocado, remove the stone and cut into slices. Season the slices with sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and lime juice. Give half an avocado per portion. Layer the fillings generously, as shown in the photo.

Dry Cured Bacon Since my last batch of dry cure bacon had been finished up a while ago, it was high time I made some more. Although I was pleased with the last lot, I was slightly annoyed by the fact I had to soak it in water to reduce the saltiness, as the flavour from the rosemary, sugar and black peppercorns will have also been reduced. Whilst browsing the River Cottage forums one day, I read about other people who had had the same problem when following Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe for dry cure bacon. There was one person, Howard, who had done alot of research and looked at several different recipes before he tried curing his bacon, and said it turned out beautifully. So I decided to follow his guidelines. I love making bacon. Such a simple procedure, with such amazing results. It’s quite comforting to have a load of delicious streaky bacon sitting in my fridge, waiting to be turned into something tasty. Again, I got a hold of a whole pork belly (I don’t like to do things by half), but it wasn’t all for me; the other chefs Marc, Marcus and Alan from work were going to split the cost with me for a piece of bacony loveliness. I was more adventurous with the flavourings this time; nutmeg and rosemary were the primary notes, with undertones from a few other spices also coming through. I did actually end up soaking the bacon, but only for 1 hour this time, so the extra flavours were still noticeable in the finished bacon. I didn’t manage to get a hold of any salt petre unfortunately, so the bacon won’t keep its pinkness when cooked. The flavour will be unaffected though, which is the main thing. I’m very happy with the end product; I have delicious things in store for it. It was a source of comfort and joy to have my bacon hanging up in the kitchen, slowly maturing and increasing in firmness and flavour. Everyone should try making bacon, it’s so easy, and you will have a product which is many miles better than anything you can get in a supermarket. --- * 5kg of pork belly * 300g of salt * 100g of soft brown sugar * 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper * 6 bay leaves, finely chopped * 3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped * 1/2 teaspoons of ground mace * 6 allspice berries, ground * 3 cloves, ground 1. Mix all the ingredients except the pork together in a bowl. Rub about three-quarters of the mix into the belly, leave in the fridge for 24 hours then pour the liquid away and repeat, but only adding a small amount of cure mix after the first day. Cure it for 4 days, then cut off a piece and fry it to test for saltiness. If it’s too salty, just soak it under running water for an hour or longer to reduce this. Finally, wrap it in muslin and hang for a week in a cool larder to dry and allow the flavour to mature.