DIY Pea Meal Bacon Disaster!

Newly Pea Mealed Bacon

After 25 days of carefully watching over my brining pork loins, turning them every week and making sure the temperature was perfect, we pulled them out of the brine, dried them and rolled them in corn meal. They looked great! But of course the big test is how it tastes. This morning I cut a slice for each of our breakfasts, pan fried them and served them with eggs and toast. The verdict….inedible!

Ready for the Fry Pan

Somehow I screwed up the recipe is my guess. They were unbelievably salty. So salty that even a Swede wouldn’t eat them. So it is back to the drawing board. The recipe that I posted earlier in the month needs to be re-evaluated based on my results. At least I didn’t poison anyone.

If there is anyone out there who is making their own pea meal bacon perhaps they could give me some advice?

Oh well, back to the store to pick up more pork loin and my new shipment of pink salt came in so I am ready for another attempt once I recalculate. Just wish it didn’t take a month to see the results.

Chocolate Bacon Braised Lamb Shanks

After tasting my Chocolate Bacon Jam in my last post, I thought that it would be perfect as a base for braising either lamb shanks or short ribs. Having 4 lamb shanks in the fridge sealed the deal for me.

Recipe:

4 Lamb Shanks
1 Tbsp. Bacon Fat
1 Med. Yellow Onion chopped
3 Carrots Chopped
3 Celery Stalks Chopped
3 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 Cup Red Wine
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Water
2/3 Cups Chocolate Bacon Jam
5 Peppercorns
1 tsp. dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown all sides of the lamb shanks in the bacon fat in a 4 quart dutch oven on medium-high heat. Remove the shanks and saute the onion, celery and carrots on medium heat until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a further minute.

Add the wine, broth, water, jam, peppercorns and rosemary and heat until boiling, making sure that any of the brown crispy bits on the bottom of the dutch oven are scraped off. Once the liquid is boiling then remove from heat and add the lamb shanks to the liquid. Cover the dutch oven and put into the oven for 3 hours.

Remove the shanks and strain the liquid then reduce liquid by half on the stovetop over medium low heat. Spoon liquid over the lamb.

I served the lamb with roasted root vegetables including baby turnips, fingerling potatoes, carrots, and golden beets then paired the meal with a 2005 E. Guigal Gigondas.

2005 E. Guigal Gigondas

Chocolate Bacon Jam

The obsession continues. Just plain bacon jam was obviously not good enough so when we tasted our finished product it gave me an idea. Why don’t we add espresso instead of coffee and also some chocolate to add richness and depth to the bacon jam.

Game on!

Chocolate Bacon Jam – an original Saint Elk recipe

4 lbs of double smoked bacon chopped
2 medium white onions chopped
2 oz. 90% cacao dark chocolate
2 cups of espresso
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup of molasses
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups water

Cook the chopped bacon on medium heat until brown but before it becomes crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside. Cook the chopped onions on medium low heat until the onions start to take on a light caramel colour approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan.

Combine all ingredients except for 1 1/2 cups of water in a dutch oven and heat until boiling then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Every 30 minutes add another half cup of water.

Once the liquid has been reduced to a thick syrupy mixture remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Place mixture into a food processor and puree for about 30 seconds.

Dark Chocolatey Colour

There you have it. Rich and velvety undertones of chocolate and espresso but with the salty, savoriness of the bacon.

The Finished Product

This is going to be a great flavouring for the braised lamb shanks I am going to make tomorrow.

We’re Jammin’…Bacon Jammin’

Extreme Makeover Bacon Before Shot

Today was a very good day. Any day that involves cooking 4 lbs. of bacon has to be great. This was the start of our exploration into the world of bacon preserves. We started out easy basing our jam on a recipe from Not Quite Nigella.

The Recipe

4 lbs. choppeddouble smoked bacon
3 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup minced garlic
4 cups brewed coffee
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Start by cooking the bacon on medium heat until it is browning and not quite getting crispy. Then remove the bacon from the pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan and combine with the bacon and all the other ingredients in a 4 quart dutch oven.

Cooked for 2 Hours and Ready for the Processor

Bring to a boil and then simmer for approximately 2 hours until the all of the liquid has been reduced. Then let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes and then puree in a food processor for about 30 seconds.

Ready for Toast

The jam is in jars and should be good in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Tomorrow morning we will have it on toast with poached eggs. For lunch we will have it on a chicken sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce. Tomorrow night maybe as the rub on a pork loin roast.

Duck Prosciutto – Part II

Cured at Last

The scales of justice have spoken. The duck breasts have been weighed and found ready (the 30% loss of weight means they’re ready). It took an extra four days for the duck to cure but the wait has been worth it.

We had a few issues with the process. The main issue was finding an area in our house that fit the necessary temperature range of 8-15 degrees. Our garage fit the bill until a cold spell dropped the inside temperature to -3 so we had to move the breasts inside to the basement. The other problem was the humidity. The ducks need 60% humidity to properly cure but living in a freezing desert it gets difficult to maintain that level without a proper curing setup.

In spite of these issues the duck was good. We gave it a rating of 7 out of 10 which is pretty good for a first time. The prosciutto was buttery and salty with a pleasant duck finish. This will be great on pizza with rocket or the charcutepalooza recommended prosciutto, tomato and lettuce sandwich.

We are going to try again but next time with magret duck breasts (ducks that have been raised for foie gras so they are bigger and thicker) and maybe a in a proper cure chamber if Jeanne let’s me put another fridge in the garage.

This is the finale of the first challenge for Charcutepalooza – The Year of Meat. The next challenge will be posted tomorrow.

Bacon Jam and Bacon Marmalade

Bacon

Jam

What the…?

Bacon what?

That was Jeanne’s and my response to seeing bacon jam on the menu at the Niagara Street Cafe in Toronto.This had to be tried because as everyone knows, more bacon equals more better! The bacon jam was being served as a sauce on roast Kurobota pork loin that evening. Amazing does not even begin to describe the smokey, rich yet sweet flavour that explodes in your mouth when you taste this jam.

Actually jam is a bit of a misnomer, this concoction is probably better described as a bacon marmalade, with chunks of house cured bacon intermingled with carmelized onions in a citrusy? suspension. The Niagara Street Cafe uses this dish as an ingredient in brunch dishes, appetizers, main dishes and of course in desserts. Nick Lui, the chef at Niagara Street even won a Toronto preserve competition with his jam back in October.

At the end of dinner my wife asked Anton Potvin (the owner and a friend) if we could beg, borrow or steal some of this fantastic jam to take home to Calgary with us. He passed us on to Chef Nick and after some serious begging and cajoling he sent us home with a jar.

The meal by the way was absolutely amazing! If you are ever in Toronto make sure you give it a try. (Make reservations as they are really busy) Here are links to some reviews if you want a second opinion.

Toronto Life

Yelp

National Post

Toronto Star

The jar is now sadly empty. We gave tastes to any of our foodie friend and family that have dropped by our home and also used it as a glaze on a wild boar loin that we cooked for Jeanne’s parents. So…now we have to make some since we will not be in Toronto for a while. This will be the project for the weekend.

After doing some research online I was able to find a number of recipes for bacon jam or bacon marmalade that are all a common theme:

Justin Keith’s Bacon Marmalade Recipe

Not Quite Nigella’s Bacon Jam Recipe

Jeroxie’s Bacon Jam Recipe

 These are all a bit different than the jam from Niagara Street Cafe but we will give them a shot. Hey! They’re made of bacon too, so have to be good. We will try to recreate the bacon jam from Toronto but it will take some trial and error. So stay tuned and we will let you know on Sunday.

* Jam image courtesy of Darren Robertson

Creamy Polenta

Stir in the Parmesan

This last weekend we had 2 dinner parties and made polenta for the first one, intending to make couscous for the second one but liked this recipe so much that we made it for the second night. This is an easy dish to make.

Creamy Polenta with Herbs

3 Cups of Veal Stock

3 Cups of Whole Milk

1 Tsp of minced fresh Sage (we used Tarragon the second night)

1 Tsp of kosher salt

1 Cup of Cornmeal

1/2 Cup of grated Parmesan

In a saucepan heat the stock and the milk with the salt and the Sage over medium-high heat until just below a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal until you get a nice thick consistency.

Reduce the heat to low and stir the polenta until it has thickened enough to mound on a spoon. This takes 10-20 minutes. Stir in the parmesan and serve.

The first night we served the polenta with a veal saltimboca and on the second night with braised lamb shanks and it was fantastic.