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Posts Tagged ‘bacon’


Gratins make anything better. A nice cheesy, crunchy crust on top of any vegetable is an improvement. I also love that you can make gratins ahead of time and finish the cooking in the oven, so you can leave the kitchen and entertain guests. And of course this makes them perfect for the holidays, when half my meal is made ahead of time so it’s no stress and I can focus on a few key things that require attention.

Parsnip Gratin

1 pound parsnips, sliced into thin discs

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1 strip bacon, cut into small batons (optional)

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons thyme

1 cup milk

1/2 cup grated gruyere

1/2 cup grated cheddar

2 tablespoons grated parmesan

1 slice bread, crumbled or ground into big breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter

If using bacon, render it in a frying pan until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the shallots to the pan and soften, about 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and combine with the parsnips, half the hazelnuts, most of the cheddar and gruyere, milk, bacon, and the thyme. Stir together and pour into a baking dish.

Combine the parmesan, remaining gruyere and cheddar, and breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle over the top of the parsnips along with the remaining hazelnuts. Dot the top with little pieces of the butter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the top gets brown and crispy. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

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The last ramps of the season were sitting in my fridge, and what better way to use them up but with some eggs and bacon. I also had some leftover homegrown swiss chard that was given to me, so I threw those in with the ramps. A healthy way to start the day! Of course, there had to be a little bacon jam added but who doesn’t like bacon?

Eggs with Ramps and Bacon Jam

2 eggs

6-8 ramps, sliced in half

1 cup swiss chard (or other leafy green)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons bacon jam

Saute the ramps and swiss chard in the olive oil until they have wilted and caramelized a bit. Remove to a plate. Add the eggs carefully so as not to break the yolks and fry to desired cooking (I like the yolks runny so I leave them sunny side up). Season with salt and pepper and serve on top of the greens with a spoonful of bacon jam. If the jam is straight from the fridge, you can warm it up in the pan.

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There’s nothing I like more than a grilled cheese. I like every kind, from the traditional diner cheddar on white bread to the fanciest, wild mushroom truffled grilled cheese. When I saw a recipe for bacon jam, I immediately thought that would make a great grilled cheese– everything’s better with bacon and this jam has a nice sweetness from the caramelized onions. You can use it as a condiment for many things, I’m already thinking about eggs and of course, egg sandwiches. I planned to make this with sliced peaches when they are in season, but for now I’m using apples.

Grilled Cheese with Peaches (Apples) and Bacon Jam
2 1/2-3/4 inch slices (extra thick) of good pullman loaf or brioche
2 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
2 half inch thick pieces of Taleggio or other semi-soft cheese
4 quarter-inch thick slices fresh peach (or apple out of peach season)
Handful of spinach or arugula leaves
2 tablespoons bacon jam (below)
Butter both sides of each slice of bread and lightly toast on a grill or griddle for 2-3 minutes until it just starts to develop color. Spread the bacon jam on one slice and layer the peach or apple slices and the cheese slices on top. Top with the other slice.
Grill for 5 minutes on each side (depending on grill heat) until the cheese starts to melt and the peaches are warmed through. Add the spinach or arugula after you remove from the heat.

Bacon Jam

1/2 pound thick cut appplewood smoked bacon, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion, minced
3 garlic gloves, minced
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
3 tablespoons coffee, freshly brewed
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup water, as needed
salt and pepper to taste
Render the bacon until most of the fat has been rendered and can be drained off. Remove to a paper towel, leaving a tablespoon of bacon fat. Saute the onions in the bacon fat until they have caramelized, about 12-15 minutes. Add the garlic and stir through. (Garlic is added later so that it doesn’t burn) Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low heat for about an hour, adding water as necessary.

 

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I’ve never been all that excited by biscuits. I think it’s because most of the time, they turn out dry and somewhat tasteless if you get them at diners or restaurants. And don’t even get me started on the fast food version. But, now that I know how good these are, I’ll be stocking my freezer with loads of them. They bake up straight from the freezer and they are so light and flaky that they’re actually best all on their own. But that didn’t stop me from trying a fried egg sandwich with pancetta and cheddar.

Oh, and I should mention that once again this recipe came from the Flour Bakery cookbook. Still working my way through it and enjoying everything.

Sage Biscuits

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup cold buttermilk

1/2 cup cold heavy cream

1 cold egg

1 tablespoon chopped sage

1 tablespoon chopped scallions

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Scatter the butter pieces in and squeeze between your fingers so that they come together with the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix, you don’t want it to warm up either. The butter should still be in pea-sized pieces.

In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, cream, egg, sage, and scallion together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while  mixing with a handmixer, just until it comes together.

Gather the dough together and roll around in the bowl to pick up any loose flour. Pour out onto a floured surface and pat into a 1″ thickness. Cut out with a 3″ round cutter. Bring together the scraps until you’ve used all the dough. This should make 8 biscuits. If you want to freeze them, wrap them individually in plastic wrap now.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or 45 minutes if they were frozen.

I love a fried egg sandwich with pancetta, but you can definitely substitute your favorite bacon. I also am partial to cheddar or asiago, but use whatever cheese you like best as well.

Fried Egg Sandwich

1 biscuit

1 egg

2 pieces pancetta or bacon

handful of arugula

2 basil leaves

a couple slices of cheese or some grated cheese to taste

Fry up the bacon or pancetta in a frying pan until crispy. Remove to a paper towel. Cook the egg in the rendered bacon fat and season with salt and pepper. I don’t usually flip my eggs because I like them runny, but I do baste them with the extra oil/fat in the pan. Layer the cheese, pancetta, and arugula on the bottom and place the egg on top of the cheese so it starts to melt. Top with a couple basil leaves and the top of your biscuit and dig in!

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Pappa al pomodoro is an Italian tomato soup that uses up old bread to thicken it. I usually make it vegetarian, but you can add in some bacon or pancetta if you want something heartier. This was a special request for the blog a long time ago, I just haven’t made it in about a year. It’s great with a grilled cheese or just on it’s own for lunch on a rainy day. I keep my leftover parmesan rinds in the freezer, but if you don’t have any, you can just sprinkle some grated parmesan over the top.

Pappa Al Pomodoro

1 can San Marzano tomatoes

1/2 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 slices bacon or pancetta, diced (optional)

1/2 cup white or red wine or water

1 cup cubed bread

2 leftover parmesan rinds

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil and the bacon if you’re using it. Once it has softened, add the wine or water to deglaze and then add the tomatoes. Add the bread, rinds, and sugar and let simmer for 20 minutes until the bread disintegrates. If you are having trouble getting the bread to break up, whisk it for a minute and that should do it. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.

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This was a quick weeknight recipe that I created to use what little was left in the pantry. It’s a little Italian like a chicken cacciatore, a little French with the vermouth and cream, definitely delicious. It ended up being my favorite dinner of the week. And with only boneless chicken breasts, it cooks really quickly. Add some egg noodles and some veggies and you have dinner in half an hour.

Chicken with Porcini Mushrooms

2 boneless chicken breasts, cubed

1 slice bacon, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon rosemary, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 ounces sweet vermouth

1/4 cup marinara sauce

1 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water and reserve the water

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Render the bacon for a couple minutes in the olive oil. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove the chicken from the pan. Add the shallot, garlic, and rosemary and saute for a couple minutes. Add the tomato paste and let it brown for 1 minute. Add the vermouth to deglaze the pan.

Add the tomato sauce and strain the reserved mushroom liquid. Pour in about a cup of mushroom liquid and let it cook down a bit. You can add more as needed. Add the oregano and mushrooms and cook for a couple minutes. Return chicken to the pan and add in the cream.

Warm through and it’s ready. You can add some cooked egg noodles to soak up the sauce and some veggies or salad on the side.

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Baked clams can really be a vehicle for anything you want to stuff them with, and I usually make them with some variation of this recipe. Make sure to loosen the clams from the shell though, or you’re going to have a mess all over your table.

Baked Clams with Bacon and White Wine

6 clams

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 strip bacon (or pancetta or guanciale), minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1/4 cup white wine

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Steam the clams open for about 5 minutes, until you can remove the top shells. Make sure to loosen the clams from the bottom shells. You can use the baking dish you will use later, or any pan with some water in it.

Saute the bacon in a dry pan until most of the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Throw in the garlic and shallot and saute together for 30 seconds, do not let it brown. Deglaze with the white wine for another minute and then combine in a bowl with the panko and parsley. Stuff each clam shell with the mixture and place in a baking dish (be careful not to let them fall over, or you will have to restuff them….). Drizzle some olive oil over the top to help them brown. Put under the broiler or bake at a high temperature for 5-10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn. They are done when they have browned on top. You can serve with a squeeze of lemon, if you like.

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