Tag Archives: Bacon

Roasted Sunchoke Soup with Caramelized Pears

27 Feb

Although sunchokes are originally from America, French explorer Samuel de Champlain brought from Cape Cod to Europe in the 17th century, so they’ve grown in Britain for some time. They’re sometimes called Jerusalem artichokes or earth apples, and are tubers that look a bit like ginger (see above). In this soup, I roast the sunchokes for a sweeter flavor that brings out the earthiness.

One thing to keep in mind – when you’re preparing the sunchokes, if you peel them, they’ll oxidize and turn pinkish. You can avoid that if you pop them in water with a splash of lemon juice once you’ve peeled them.

Roasted Sunchoke Soup with Caramelized Pears

5 Servings

3 1/3 pounds sunchokes, carefully scrubbed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon drippings or vegetable oil
Vegetable broth
1 splash Sherry vinegar

For each serving:
1/4 strip bacon, small diced
1/8 Bosc pear, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the sunchokes, salt and pepper and vegetable oil or drippings. Toss thoroughly and turn the mixture onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven until tender, then remove from the oven. I like to keep the skin on my sunchokes – if you do this, you’ll need to make sure the skin is very, very clean before roasting. If you prefer to peel the sunchokes, do it now (the soup will be a little paler if you peel them). Turn the roasted sunchokes into a food processor in 2 batches and blend to a purée. Add vegetable broth as necessary to help blending, and finally, add the splash of Sherry vinegar. Render the bacon, reserving the drippings for another recipe. Add the pear slices to the pan and brown them on both sides. Serve the soup topped with the pear and bacon


Day 31: Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves

23 Feb

Yesterday I put the liver saved from a whole roasted guinea fowl (guinea hen) to good use. Today I’ll be using the heart. Heart is a bit tricky, since it’s a tough little muscle, and cooking it over a high heat can give it an elastic band consistency. Slow cooking it in fat is a good way around this. I got the idea from a meal a couple of year’s ago at DC’s pig-centric restaurant Eola. Chef Daniel Singhofen served Confited Pork Heart with Mashed Turnip, Brandied Cherries, Pecans, and Bronze Fennel as an hors d’oeuvres, to get his diners to give offal a shot. It’s worth giving a whirl – it’s free since a lot of whole birds come with it in the cavity. Heart’s pretty healthy too – it does contain some cholesterol, like most animal proteins, but it’s also packed with Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Iron and Zinc.

Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves

1/4 strip bacon
1 Guinea Fowl heart
1/2 Brussels sprout, cut in half
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
1 demitasse spoonful blackcurrant preserves

Slice the bacon very thinly then render it in a non-stick pan. When the bacon is crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a plate. Pour the bacon into a boiled egg cup. Allow the bacon fat to cool slightly, then add the heart. Put the egg cup in the microwave and set to “keep warm” for 2 to 5 minutes, or until the heart is cooked through. Heart gets tough very easily, so it’s important not to cook the heart on high. Sear the cut sides of the Brussels sprout quarters in the hot pan, and season with salt. Add the vegetable broth and simmer until the broth has evaporated. Slice the heart very thinly and reserve the bacon fat for another use. Serve the heart garnished with Brussels sprouts, reserved bacon, and blackcurrant preserves.

Day 17: Pollock with Cabbage, Radicchio, Bacon and Apple

27 Jan

Let’s face it, cabbage? Not so sexy. Cabbage and bacon? OK, getting a bit warmer. One of the reasons cabbage gets its unfair reputation of tasting foul is that when it’s cooked over a high heat it lets off sulfurous fumes that stink to high heaven and turn the cabbage bitter. If it’s cooked low and slow – braised – it can be delicious. In this recipe, a bed of cabbage and apples made colorful with radicchio is topped with a fillet of pollock and some sizzling, crispy bacon.

Pollock is less funny in America. Mostly because nobody says “bollocks” here. But it is very similar in texture to cod and usually quite a bit cheaper than cod nowadays.

Imperial War Museum

One reader was nice enough to bring the above poster to my attention. Fish was generally more readily available than meat during the war, so a substantial portion of fish could be had more easily than of meat. And salt cod was no exception!

Pollock with Cabbage, Radicchio, Bacon and Apple

2 tablespoons drippings
1/3 white onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brandy
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and large diced
1/4 head cabbage, sliced medium
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon black currant jam
1/4 head radicchio
1 cup vegetable broth
6 ounces pollock
1 strip bacon, finely sliced

Heat the drippings in a shallow pot. Sweat the onion and garlic until translucent then deglaze with the brandy. Add the apple until slightly softened. Add the cabbage and season with the salt, sugar, fennel seeds, pepper and jam. Cook slowly until the cabbage has broken down a little. Don’t be tempted to crank up the heat and cook it on high as the cabbage lets off sulphurous compounds when cooked rapidly that can mean it tastes a bit bitter. You want the cabbage to have bite, but to be fully cooked through. Add the radicchio and vegetable broth then gently lay the pollock on the top of the cabbage. Sprinkle it with a bit of salt and cover the pot. Steam for about 5 minutes until the fish has just begun to flake. While the fish is cooking, render the bacon until crisp. Pour off and reserve the drippings for some other use. Spoon some of the cabbage mixture on a plate and top with the fish. Spoon a little of the cooking liquid over the top of the fish and top the fish with the bacon.

Day 2: Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Walnut and Apple Salad

6 Jan

As a kid, I spent several years in New York. I was a Brit but I managed to cultivate two accents to avoid being scolded. One for use around fellow Brits (English accent), and one for use at school to avoid being teased (American accent). Sadly I’m no longer bilingual in that sense anymore. But every Christmas, we would return to Britain to visit my grandparents. Granny was and is a fantastic cook. Her cakes are legendary, and the highlight of Christmas day was the appearance of her homemade sausage rolls. But Christmas lunch always included Brussels sprouts. Possibly foreigners heard about the way the English make Brussels sprouts and expanded the horror these wilted, sulphuric vegetables inspired when boiled for about 10 hours to include all British food. No wonder my mother still won’t eat sprouts today. But seriously, people. We don’t boil everything. Not all of our food sucks. I promise.

My parents raised me to politely eat everything served at someone else’s house, whether I liked it or not. I would try and think about the chocolate santa ornaments on the Christmas tree (that I used to filch when nobody was looking and inhale at an alarming rate behind the sofa until I was thoroughly sick) as I tried as hard as I could to swallow the mushy, tasteless sprouts. Years later, I had Brussels sprouts for the first time cooked as God intended, lightly charred and tossed with bacon and a light maple glaze. Light dawned. Brussels sprouts were not a scourge on humanity after all!

While I love the simplicity of bacon and sprouts in perfect harmony, occasionally I have to eat salads. Or so I’m told. This is as close as I could get to my favorite sprout-bacon combo, but in salad form.

Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Walnut and Apple Salad

1/8 to 1/4 cup small diced bacon
2 wafer thin slices onion
6 to 8 Brussels sprouts, shaved thin on a mandolin, cores discarded
1/8 apple, preferably Braeburn, cored and cut julienne
2 or 3 walnuts, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper
Apple cider vinegar

Render the bacon in a pan until crispy, carefully saving any drippings. Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly. Mix the onion, sprouts and apple in a mixing bowl with the walnuts, salt and pepper, vinegar and oil. Serve.

Day 1: Parsnip and Potato Roesti

31 Dec

During World War II, Britain sourced a lot of its produce from other countries. When U-boats started targeting supply ships coming to the UK, Britain started a campaign pushing Brits to grow their own veggies and fruits, in “allotments” or plots of land. The Dig for Victory campaign began. Posters like this started appearing. Jaunty little fellow, isn’t he?

Image credit: Zazzle.co.uk

My Grandmother’s family had a small garden outside their house in Gravesend, Kent. The town is still quite small and the only reason any Americans have heard of it at all is mostly because it’s where Pocahontas died. She and her mother and sisters and brother grew vegetables and fruit. This time of year that mostly meant apples and pears.

Anything more exciting would have come from abroad – not an option.

Turnips, Brussels Sprouts, Onions - veggies that would typically have been grown

Since her father wasn’t around much any way (he was in the armed forces), it wasn’t anything new for her large family to be pretty thrifty. But to prevent starvation, the British government started rationing ingredients they knew they had a limited ability to produce. If I had been your average adult in WW2, and wasn’t sick or pregnant, here’s the limit of butter, tea, cheese and eggs I would be allowed in 1 week.

4 ounces bacon per week (3 thick cut slices)

2 ounces cheese, 4 ounces bacon, 2 ounces butter, 2 ounces tea, 1 egg - average rations per week for a healthy adult

Cooking fats of any kind hit the list in 1940. I know what you’re thinking…where’s the meat? You got about 6 ounces a week, beyond the bacon. Average meat serving these days in the US? 6 ounces. We eat in one typical serving of meat – assuming your not talking a giganta-steak – what your average Brit made last an entire week. That blew my mind. How the heck am I going to make the meat last a week?

More importantly, with 1 egg a week, how am I going to bake?? Daphne, my grandmother, used to tell me how her family pooled all their eggs for a week so they could make a cake, if it was someone’s birthday. Suffice it to say, it was usually a special occasion, and that cake was all the more important because those eggs were precious.

When I was little, she used to sit me next to her on her faded green velvet couch in their sitting room and try and teach me how to whistle…and knit. And I would quiz her endlessly about her childhood. About what it was like during the war. I still can’t knit worth a damn. And my whistle is lame. But those stories struck a chord.

As I try and put myself in her place, I examine my rations for the week. First problem? What the heck am I going to cook with? Not much fat here. I cut a few strips of bacon and render them. I decide to make a parsnip and potato roesti with a little parsley on top. I just came back from spending the holidays in Switzerland and I am having serious roesti withdrawal. Plus, it’s chilly outside today, I decide. I finish lunch with an apple and think longingly of 3 egg omelettes.

Parsnip and Potato Roesti

Parsnip and Potato Roesti


1/2 medium Russet potato, peeled

1/4 parsnip, peeled

4 or 5 batons of bacon

Salt and pepper

1 sliver butter

1/4 cup parsley leaves, chiffonade


Using the largest side of a box grater, grate the potato and parsnip over a clean kitchen towel. Gather the corners around the grated vegetables to form a little parcel. Insert the faucet of the kitchen sink inside the parcel and rinse the grated vegetables. Turn off the tap and twist the parcel, squeezing all the moisture out of the grated vegetables. Put them in a bowl. Render the bacon in a pan until it releases all of that bacon fat and until the bacon has half cooked. Pour the bacon fat and bacon into the bowl with the potato mixture. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Using the same pan, add the butter and pan fry patties of the potato mixture until crispy. Flip and crisp the other side. You may need to finish these in the oven if you make them too thick. Remove from the pan. Serve topped with the parsley.

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