Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sprechen sie Bacon?

Last month, I was able to attend a friend’s wedding in Pasadena, CA.  It was my first and only magical 4-day break from mommy-hood, since my son was born in 2008.  We had some time to sight-see around Old Pasadena while there, and found a nice little English Bar named Lucky Baldwin’s that served a traditional Irish Breakfast. My friend Jan, who had previously been on a trip to Ireland over the summer, said that Irish Bacon is a MUST. We had some other great meals while there, but that breakfast was the best meal in the 4-day trip.

Irish Bacon, in itself is a magnificent thing.  I honestly didn’t think it could get better than US Pork Belly Bacon however, I was exceptionally surprised.  This delectable wonder tastes like Bacon and Applewood-Smoked Pork Chops got together and had a scandalous love affair.  But what makes it so different from home-grown US Belly Bacon?  Well, for starters, it’s not belly meat.  Like our great Canadian neighbors, Irish Bacon is created with the back meat of the pig, more commonly referred to as Back Bacon or Rashers.  Irish and Canadian Bacon are actually siblings.  They are both cured and brined and run about the same thickness in the way it’s sliced.  Both are cooked until done, not to a crisp.  But Irish bacon differs from Canadian Bacon in the fact that Irish Bacon tends to have a layer of fat surrounding the meat, to help seal in the flavor and juiciness.

So maybe you’re not a big fan of Canadian or Irish Bacon.  That doesn’t mean your options are limited to US Pork Products.  In fact, bacon, being as old as it is, (remember 1500 BC is when it graced man with its awesome presence) it has been adapted by many countries, and each country puts its own regional, flavor-filled spin on it.  Let’s take a bacon tour around the globe, shall we?

* Italy– Pancetta – Salted and cured pork belly, known for its dryness.  Pancetta can be cooked crisp just like regular bacon, or cubed and used as a base in wonderful sauces.

* Korea – Samgyeopsal – (don’t try to pronounce it unless you have a background in Asian Studies) Thick slices of uncured pork belly, marinated and seasoned and thrown on a grill.  True Korean BBQ.

* Spain– Serrano Ham – More like a cousin to bacon, this is salt-cured and dried for 6 months.  Sliced thin, and usually eaten raw or wrapped around other food like melon or asparagus.

*Netherlands- Zeeuws spek – Pork belly meat seasoned with bay leaf, salt and pepper and the left to marinate in spiced oil and mustard.  Most commonly sold grilled by the butchers, like a Bacon BBQ.  

*HungarySzalonna – Back bacon made of smoked pork fat with the rind.  Often smoked prior to being sold.

*France– Lard Salé or Ventreche – Both are from the pork belly, however, lard sale is salt cured, and ventreche is a lightly-cured pork belly bacon that has been smoked.

So wherever your travels take you, you should feel confident to know that you can have your bacon, all you have to do is ask…

How do you say “May I Please Have Some Bacon?” in other languages?
Danish - Må jeg få noget bacon?
French -
Peux je veuillez avoir certains bacon?
German -
Darf ich bitte ein Stüeck Speck haben?
Spanish -
¿Puedo tener un poco de tocino?

Swedish – Kan jag få några bacon?
Polish -
Może i proszę o jakieś boczkiem?
Czech -
Může mi prosím nějaký slaninou?
Finnish -
Voisinko olla pekonia?
Dutch -
Mag ik dan hebben sommige spek?

I’m munching on this now and its heavy and almost like a meal made into the bread itself.  Of course, it was supposed to taste like touches of a smoked ham, and cheesy cheddar bite in this heavy laden bread.  But I had Winston's Irish Style Bacon, and it did not do justice the breakfast I had in California.  (Wintson's Irish Style bacon tastes more like it's buddy Canadian Bacon, than the that delicious pig I had on the west coast.  Next time, I'm making a call to Lucky Baldwin's, to find out who their supplier is.  No, I'm not crazy, it's called passion.)

I made it as an accompaniment to some hearty Chili.  But it would probably match well with French Onion Soup.

Irish Soda Bread with Bacon and Cheddar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces cooked Irish bacon
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
4 green onions or scallions, chopped, green part only
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (Don’t have buttermilk? Don’t worry you can make your own.  Recipe follows.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line abaking sheet with parchment paper.

In a skillet on medium-low heat, warm up the oil. Add the Irish bacon to the skillet, and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from the skillet and chop the bacon.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, kosher salt, granulated sugar, Irish cheddar, chopped Irish bacon and green onions until well blended.Pour in the buttermilk and mix until the dough comes together.

Form the dough into a round loaf and place on the baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Serve warm.

Homemade Buttermilk

4 and ½ tsp of white vinegar or lemon juice
1 cup of  whole milk
Place the vinegar in a glass-measuring cup, and add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid. Stir to combine and let stand for 10 to15 minutes (The mixture will begin to curdle).
Use as needed in a recipe, or cover and refrigerate until needed.

No comments:

Post a Comment