Friday, August 3, 2012

Food, Family, Friday: BACON -- 'Nuf said

On a recent night, I added bacon to a simple pasta sauce.  Regular readers know it won’t end up that simple, but it’s a good place to start.

It’s actually a pretty standard recipe that I borrowed from Mark Bittman.  It’s essentially one 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes crushed up with your hands, a small handful of basil leaves added to a bunch of good olive oil and enough garlic to wipe the Twilight series from the memories of an entire generation of teen girls.  Usually, I make this dish with Spanish chorizo, but I’ve lost my source of good Spanish chorizo and hunted for a decent substitute.

I used Applegate Farms turkey bacon.  Here, the word “bacon” makes turkey thigh meat better.  In fact, it is some of the best bacon I’ve ever had and it cuts out lots of calories and saturated fat.

Bacon is undergoing a renaissance after many years with a bad reputation that, I submit, was due largely to bad bacon.  Pick up the average name brand package of bacon at the store, look in the little window on the back of the package and you’ll see a mass of fat whispering to you about a place where meat might once have been.  But, don’t worry.  That fat has been salted to within an inch of its life so it can stay on the shelf until some father who knows no better picks it up as a treat for the kids.

New sources of bacon such as Pederson's Farms, Applegate Farms and others are leading this renaissance.  These bacons are largely uncured which means they actually taste like something other than salt and the animals themselves are allowed to move from time to time so they develop meat along with the fat on their bellies.  Things get better.  At Whole Foods Markets, you can also buy pork belly and they will just give you the recipe for turning it into bacon.

Is this a great country, or what?

The bacon renaissance is leading to a certain symbolic quality being attached to bacon.  Bacon makes everything better.

You might have seen commercials calling for a “bacon latte.”  Bacon shows up in the new generation of designer burger restaurants.  And it’s difficult to find chefs who don’t use bacon to make traditional dishes better.  In fact, this idea that bacon makes anything better animates a video from Youtube sensations Rhett and Link.

And if you’re a parent who does not know who Rhett and Link are, then you need cooler children.  Or perhaps you could just rub some bacon on them.

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