Brussels Sprouts. Lima Beans. Kale. They’re fodder for sit-com dinnertimes, for feeding under the table to the family dog, for initiating conversations about starving children around the world. They’re bad veggie clichés and we’re supposed to hate them. Someone admitting a fondness for these reviled veggies might as well admit “Tax time is my favorite time of year,” or “I understand where meter maids are coming from.”
But we believe that these bitter greens can be redeemed. We believe that a long history of overcooking and underseasoning has given these pieces of produce a reputation they don’t deserve. We believe with the right cooking methods and ingredients, these bitter greens can lose their edge and not just be good for you, but great for you. And we believe the answer lies in bacon.
(oh come on, like you didn’t see that coming).
Seriously though, it doesn’t take a lot of bacon to transform a dish. A couple of slices can make a bunch of chard into something spectacular, or make some succotash succulant. We have a simple formula (some might call it a recipe) for making greens great. It goes something like this.
Bacon + Shallots + Reviled Veggie = awesome.
- Fry up a couple of slices of your favorite bacon. Remove to drain on a paper towel, reserving the fat in the pan
- Slice up a shallot or two and sauté in the reserved fat. You can opt for garlic here too, but the mellowness of shallots is a preferable pairing.
- Add your vegetables, prepped appropriately. Greens should be well-washed and coarsely chopped, Brussels Sprouts can be halved and quickly blanched, lima beans defrosted (if frozen). That kind of thing.
- Cook until done, but not overdone. This is often when greens go gross. Taste as you go. You can always cook things a little more.
- Turn back to your bacon, cut up coarsely (kitchen shears are rad for this) and add to the pan. Stir once or twice and you’re done.
The variations on this are endless, and it’s a great starting place for other dishes. Toss your bacon’d greens with some pasta for a great weeknight meal. Add some bread crumbs to those Brussels Sprouts and bring them to the Thanksgiving table.
Seem simple? It is. Feel like adding bacon to something healthy to make it taste good is cheating? We don’t think so, since you might have avoided those greens entirely if not for the addition of bacon, right?
There’s a burgeoning trend of revile and distaste for something common in every kitchen. The one tool you have in your drawer that is only meant for one thing. The monotool. Something, anything in your kitchen that is perfectly designed for one expressed purpose, and can’t really be used for anything else. From the apple corer to herb scissors, they might do their job well, but most of the time they just take up space.
One such example is the Bacon Press. Usually fashioned out of cast iron and featuring a Suicide Food-worthy image of a pig, the bacon press is used to keep your bacon flattened and uniform during cooking. That’s it. Flat bacon. At an awkward 5” x 5” that doesn’t store in any generic kitchen space and made from heavy metal, it just doesn’t seem worth the space and clutter considering its primarily aesthetic-driven purpose: curl-less bacon.
Which is why I find it confounding that my father has one. When it comes to food, presentation isn’t too high up on his list of priorities. He’s renamed his tuna croquettes “Tuna Turds” and prides himself on his very own “Cooked to Death Chicken.” What the food lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in flavor. It tastes great, but it looks pretty terrible. So why the Bacon Press if its primary purpose is to make bacon look good? I had to find out.
Me: So tell me, Pop, why do you have a bacon press? What does it do for cooking bacon?
Pop: A what? A bacon press? I don’t have one. If I do, I don’t use it, because it’s a pain in the ass to clean.
Me: What are you talking about? Of course you do. It’s on your counter. It’s been there for about 20 years.
Pop: Really? What does it look like? Is it electric?
Me: What? No. This thing you have, that you own, that I remember, it’s about 5 x5, made of cast iron, has a pig on it, has the words “Bacon Press” on it, and is on your counter right now.
Pop: Huh. Let me go look.
(shuffling away and back to the phone)
Pop: Ha! I see. Yeah, I do have this Bacon Press, but I use it for everything but that.
Me: What do you use it for?
Me: Yes, now. Or whenever.
Pop: Well, it’s right now it’s holding up some cutting boards, but maybe if I make a burger or a grilled sandwich-
Me: Oh! Like a grilled cheese. You make a really good grilled cheese.
Pop: Well, sure, I guess I do use it, now that you call my attention to it, but I didn’t think of it as a bacon press, but yeah, there’s a pig right on it.
So as it turns out, this mono-tool is actually a multi-tool after all, and it does do a lot more than flatten bacon. But when it comes to cooking pig, is there a purpose? Because family had been so helpful up until now, I asked my brother, the other bacon-lover in the family.
Me: Pop’s losing his mind. You remember the bacon press, right? Do you use one?
Him: Yeah, of course, I won’t cook bacon without it. You can fit a lot more in the pan, it cooks faster, keeps bacon grease from splattering everywhere, and the flattened bacon drains a lot more evenly. I think Pop taught me that.
Me: Unbelievable. Time to up the old man’s ginko.
So the conclusion? Inconclusive. It might just come down to preference. Maybe you’re like me, and you like your bacon curly and unpredictable. Wild little slices of fatty meat that might hold small pools of greasy flavor in the dents and pockets. On the other hand you can turn to the bacon press for uniform slices of bacon, ready to pile up for a breakfast platter or lie flat between lettuce and tomato for a sandwich. Or you can just use it to make a damn good grilled cheese or prop up your cutting boards.
You can find all kinds of bacon presses online or in your local kitchen supply store. Keep an eye out for them in antique stores too. There are some pretty cool ones out there.
Bac’n is currently run from a wonderful office space in downtown Portland called PIE. It’s in a great open space with lots of room for the geeky and bacon loving types. So when DjangoCon came to Portland last week, hosting the code sprints was an obvious decision for our Django-loving creator Michael Richardson (don’t forget that bacn.com is written in django).
We had plenty of bacon on site, and so therefor offered it up for our visiting coders. When a few of them took us up on the offer, none of us were sure what they’d do in their hotel rooms with packages of bacon (and a few loose slices as well). Well, we’ve got an answer. They went back to their presidential suite overlooking the city, began fiending for the salty meat, and made a make-shift griddle with empty pint glasses and a standard hotel iron.
Yes, you read that right. Cooking bacon in your hotel room on top of the included iron.
This has to be the greatest idea we’ve ever seen, so we solute you Eric Holscher and Robert Lofthouse. You get an immediate induction to the Bacon Hall of Fame. Thanks be to Chow.com for giving them the inspiration and wherewithal to do such a magical endeavor.
A friend sent this out a few days ago, letting me know about a great bacon event being held in Portland over Labor Day Weekend (September 5-7). It’s to raise money for CHAP (the Children’s Healing Art Project.) I’ve included his information below:
We are about 50 days out from this event and I would love to have all of you forward this on to anyone who loves to get their bacon on.
Our hand knotted Bacon Boy rug from Nepal will be here, a 10 ft gold leafed Bacon Boy sculpture made out of recycled bicycle parts by a team of metal artists at David Douglas High School will make it’s blingy premier, Bacon Boy embroidered patches and Bacon Boy T-shirts will be on sale and including the villains that fight him….Sinister Sauce, the Nasti Needler, BarfBoy, the Pillinator, Earthquake, Snuzzz, Chikn Boy and of course Bacon Boy’s sister….Bacon Girl. All of the villains in the “Healing Adventures of Bacon Boy” have been created out of what children hate about their cancer treatments…..Barf Boy can eat spaghetti and then barf it up to tie up his opponent, or eat an ice cream cone….barf if up to freeze em.
Come and celebrate the life and creative genius of Austin Winters at the First Annual International Bacon Boy Day of Bacon and Art Festival…….including our BLT bar that will be serving the classic BLT, the CHAPwich….bacon, arugula, Baconnaise, peach chutney, and deep fried honey laced paper thin jalapeno slices……Bacon Maple Bars from the world famous Voodoo Doughnuts and for a limited time only Bacon Boy, Sinister Sauce and Bacon Girl cup cakes from the cake-a-licious Cup Cake Jones.
CHAP invites you to join Austin’s Family and friends in celebrating his life, his love of bacon, art and FUN.
All proceeds from our three day event support art programming in the children’s hospitals in Portland Oregon and in our satellite arts programming in Argentina and Nepal.
Check us out……www.chap.name…..or visit us at our Art Factory at 1030 NW Marshall in the Pearl district of Portland Oregon.
LOVE+HEALING=PEACE in 2000&Fine,
Download the event poster here.
BaconCamp Columbus happened recently and they were good enough to share some photos. With over 200 people at the event, I think it’s safe to say the whole thing was a huge success. We were happy to offer up some t-shirts and swag to help with prizes, and we’ll be looking forward to BaconCamp Columbus 2010.
See some event photos here
This set includes a pic of almost every entry
We recently got contacted by The Kansas City Roller Warriors, a roller derby team out of Kansas City. They’re headed to nationals this year in Philadelphia, and asked if we would donate some products for their Bacon-Themed raffle/fundraiser. How could we resist. We sent a few extra shirts for them as well, and next thing you know, our August Bac’n Babe of the Month became the Bac’n BABES of the month. Thanks Gina and to all the girls of The Kansas City Roller Warriors. Good luck with the fundraiser, and good luck at nationals.
Check out their site, and if you’re in the neighborhood on August 28th, stop by and support the ladies. Also, say hi to Bacon Shoe, who will be playing at the event. You might remember, Bac’n threw a party with Scene Stealers and Bacon Shoe back at SXSW this year (small bacon world).
Our Bac’n Babe for the month of June, 2009 is Christina Whaley.
She’s friends with our previous BBotM, Belinda Strange, and Christina called us after Belinda asking if she too could adorn our screens… How could we resist. Off went a package of bacon and shirts, and we got this back in return.
We hope you enjoy.
More images after the break. Read the rest of this entry »
What’s better than bacon? You guessed it: more bacon.
We couldn’t be more excited to tell everyone that Bacn.com is joining forces with one of the biggest bacon sites on the Internet: MrBaconpants.com.
We’ve been talking with Jason for some time and he’s been so kind with his coverage of us that it just made sense that we work together. Nothin’ but love my man.
We’ll be sending Jason lots of bacon to keep him busy during his Bacon Live video podcast airing weekly. Woohoo!
The caption (which came pre-installed on the image), speaks truth; “You’ll never top this.”
Found at Dula Blog.
We were really excited when the folks at Mountain Products Smokehouse sent us a sampler of their great bacon. So much so, that we’ve gone and added it to the site!
Mountain Products Smokehouse is a small smokehouse located in upstate New York and run by Thomas and Katherine Gray. They started it in 1980 and have been making mouthwatering products ever since.
We’re offering up a 2-pack sampler for $24.95 plus shipping & handling. This is some fantastic bacon and we hope you’ll enjoy it.