Tag Archives: bacon

Catching up

Remember that breakfast I mentioned a few days back? The one with the biscuits?

Well, there was something else on the plate that I want to tell you about, too: Sautéed Kale.

It doesn’t sound impressive, but I’ll say this: when the friend that you’re visiting works at a farm stand, it’s a safe bet that all of the food that she serves you is going to be delicious, and that the vegetables in particular will be outstanding. When that friend’s career is based in cooking and food, take note.

In other words, long after I had finished the last of the biscuits that Peggy sent me home with, I was still thinking about the kale that accompanied them. It was unbelievably flavorful, and still light. Impressive, given that one of the two ingredients was thick cut bacon. This is my favorite kind of recipe—quick, simple and, most importantly, just plain good.

Needless to say, I’ll be making a trip to the Greenmarket this weekend in search of kale and heritage pork to make another batch.

See, occasionally, my cravings are virtuous.

Sautéed Kale

1 rasher thick cut bacon, diced
1 bunch kale, rinsed and drained
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a pan over a medium flame. When you cannot hold your hand over the flame for more than ten seconds, it’s ready to use.

Add the bacon to the pan and reduce the heat slightly. Cook, allowing the fat to render out and the bacon to be crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside, allowing it to drain on paper towels.

Add the kale to the pan, sautéing approximately five minutes, until the greens have completely wilted.

Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the reserved bacon.

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Taking a Time Out

Something I learned recently: ham hocks are shockingly hard to find.

If you’ve been following along, then you know that it’s been a little no rest for the weary in the Refrigerate After Opening kitchen these days, and, that it has been for most of the summer.

So, I did what I always do when things get a little too stressful—I took a time out in the kitchen. This time, a slow braise, forcing me to spend several hours at home, relaxing and refreshing.

The vegetable at hand: collard greens.

Of course, I must confess here: I’m a true Yank at heart. This means, among other things, my collard greens are no quite authentic, to say the least. In fact, ham hock, which I had thought was a grocery staple, eluded me. As did any type of smoked meat. Evidently, I’m not looking in the right places.

I ended up having to improvise, as I had done with my another Southern Classic that I butchered reinvented—[Yankee] Gumbo. So, I used bacon instead, although if you have ham hock, that would be best. Ultimately, the likker was still smoky, and I still got a much needed refresh.

I’d venture to guess that, even if you’re a little more discerning than I am, these collards greens won’t disappoint. I’m tempted to try taking on fried chicken, biscuits and sweet tea, too, although that seems better suited to true Southerners.

Braised Collard Greens

1 bunch collard greens, washed well
4 oz bacon
1 TBS red pepper flakes
1 TBS Tabasco
1 TBS white vinegar
8 cups water

In a large pot, saute bacon and red pepper flakes, rendering the bacon fat, about 10 minutes. Add water, and bring it to a boil along with the Tabasco and white vinegar.

In the meantime, clean off your collard greens thoroughly, removing the stems that run down the center. And tearing the leaves into 1/2 to 1″ thick slices.

Add the collard greens to the boiling water and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the greens are tender. Taste and add salt and Tabasco sauce as necessary.

Serves 4-6

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Screaming of Summer

When I started this blog more than a year ago, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t resort to posting about the weather. I’ve had a nice run of it, too. But, on the East Coast, last week was too hot to go without mention.

So, in the midst of the last epic heatwave, I did the only reasonable thing possible—I left the city.

Atlantic City has the benefit of being far enough from New York City to feel like you’re getting away, but close enough to make the trek in a day.

Plus, it’s quintessential Americana.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had never been to Atlantic City before, but after spending last summer at Fenwick Island and visiting Ocean City, I had list in mind—salt water taffy, a trip to the Casino (I won 15 cents! After spending 5 dollars!), a stroll on the boardwalk, and a trip the beach.

Did I mention how much I love Americana? Especially, this kind, that’s so specifically connected to the summer.

I made this succotash before the latest heatwave, when I could still stand the idea of turning on my oven, but I’m sharing it now because, much like my weekend daycation, it screams of summer to me.

Make it for your next picnic.

Summer Succotash

1 cup dried cranberry beans
4 ears of corn
1 TBS olive oil
6 strips bacon, diced
1 shallot
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 TSP red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the cranberry beans, bring them to a boil for 3-5 minutes, covered and let stand for 3 hours. Rinse and cook for 45 minutes in salted water. Set the cooked beans aside, allowing them to cool.

At the same time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the corn cobs with olive oil and salt to taste. Cook 45 minutes, and set aside to cool. Once the corn is cooled, cut the kernels off of the cobs and set them aside.

Heat a large skillet over a low flame. Once the skillet is hot, add the bacon, cooking until the fat has rendered, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside.

Add the shallots and red pepper flakes to the bacon fat, sauteing for 3 to 5 minutes, until the shallots are soft. Add the corn and cranberry beans back into the skillet, stirring to combine. Add the red wine vinegar into the pan and stir, scrapping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Plate the succotash adding the bacon to the top. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6

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A quick one

I had the best intentions of writing a long post about what I’ve been up to, regaling you with stories from these last few weeks, but, well, you know what they say about intentions.

So.

It’s been a busy few weeks, filled with birthdays: both my own and that of a dear friend and other happy things.

And, it’s been a series of weeks marked by adjustments of all kinds, most signifcantly of the professional sort. Last week, I spent a good twenty minutes attempting to pull a report that should have taken me maybe two. Afterwards, what I should have done was obvious, as it usually is. Needless to say, that’s a mistake I’m not likely to make again.

So, we learn by doing. I’m sure you can appreciate why I haven’t wanted to spend too much time outside of work in front of a computer. But, I have been busy cooking.

Stay with me here, I’ll be sharing the rest of the backlog of recipes soon.

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Cannelini Beans

1 pound broccoli rabe, cut into 1″ pieces
4 strips bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBS red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups pasta water, reserved
1 can of cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
salt, to taste
1 TBS lemon juice
2 cups rigatoni or other short pasta

In a large pan over a medium heat, heat the bacon until it is crisp and the fat has rendered. Take the bacon out of the pan, setting it aside and strain the pan, leaving about 2 TBS of bacon fat.

Heat the bacon fat and add the red pepper flakes, onion, and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent. Add the lemon juice and deglaze the pan.

Add the broccoli rabe to your pan and then cover with the chicken stock, allowing it to come to a simmer, stirring periodically.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your rigatoni according to the instructions.

As the broccoli rabe braises, add approximately 2 cups of the pasta water, and simmer. Add in the canellini beans, and stir.

Once the pasta is al dente, strain out the pasta, reserving the pasta water, and add it to the pan with broccoli rabe. Stir and simmer for one to two minutes, allowing the flavors to meld. If the pasta is too dry, add more of the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce.

Divide the pasta into four servings and garnish with the reserved bacon.

Serves 4

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File It Away

And so we descend into the seasonwhereitstoocoldtoleavethehouse. (I’m hoping if I say it quickly, maybe it won’t last as long.)

Hope springs eternal, as they say.

But, while I wait for Spring, it’s time for some heartier fare.

Soup is, of course, a great option. But, on those really cold days in store, I want something a little more substantial, and I think these lentils fit the bill perfectly.

They’re quick to make, taking about 45 minutes, but taste like they’ve been stewed for hours, thanks to the addition of bacon which imparts a smoky flavor and the tomato paste that lends an added depth. But, you could easily make them vegetarian, too, and wouldn’t lose much of the complexity. And, they’re economical, so if, after many days of being housebound from the cold, you crack and order in, you don’t even need to feel guilt.

As an added bonus, the lentils freeze well, so you can make a big batch and eat them throughout the winter. I’ll be doing just that.

Stewed Lentils
Adapted from Ina Garten

The biggest change that I made to this recipe was the addition of bacon, which takes the lentils from a simple side to a main dish. I also use black beluga lentils. They’re a little smaller than the French lentils Garten calls for and the texture stays intact despite the stewing. French lentils would work perfectly here as well. Avoid plain lentils as they tend to get mealy.

4 strips bacon, diced
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 cups black beluga lentils
2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp thyme
2 TBS tomato paste
3 TBS red wine vinegar

Boil lentils 15 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat up the bacon, rendering out the fat. Strain the bacon from the fat and set it aside.

Add olive oil to the bacon fat and allow it to heat up. Saute the onions until they are translucent, then add in the garlic and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes. Then, add celery, onions, and tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the lentils and chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the stock has fully absorbed. Once the stock has fully absorbed, add the vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with bacon before serving. Serve with rice.

Serves 4

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Eating Your Greens

brussels sprouts with bacon

This is my favorite kind of dish—the kind that feels indulgent while still allowing you to think you’re being healthy. And, it really is mostly healthy.

Sure, there’s the bacon. But it’s minimal compared to the vegetables, there for flavor more than anything else. And what flavor it imparts—it’s the perfect foil for the vegetables and seasoning. The saltiness nicely offsetting the tartness of the granny smith apples and perfectly balancing the acidic punch of the vinegar.


brussels sprouts onions

Then, there are the Brussels sprouts, filled with fiber and vitamin rich, detested by children everywhere.

Seriously.

My mother was so convinced that my sister and I would hate them that she refused to serve them in our house while we were going up. I’m almost entirely convinced that’s the only reason I like them so much now.

bacon and onions

This is also the kind of dish that comes together quickly, making it the perfect candidate for a quick weeknight dinner. A little bit of chopping, a quick stir and dinner is on the table.

Make it tonight.

frying away

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apples

A note about the oil before you get cooking: I realize it seems a bit excessive what with the bacon fat. You can certainly leave it out, but in my experience, the vegetables stick to the pan without it and burn instead of brown. So, do so at your own risk. (Upon rereading that, I realize that it sounds rather ominous. Forgive me, but I take my vegetables very seriously, apparently.)

1.5 cups brussels sprouts, quartered
4 bacon strips, diced
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and diced
1/2 large or 1 small onion onion, cut into slivers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
2 TBS cider vinegar
1 TBS olive oil

In a large pan, heat bacon, rendering the fat, about 5 minutes.

Add olive oil to the pan, and once it has heated, add the onions, garlic and thyme, and saute until the onions are translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the brussels sprouts without stirring, another 5-7 minutes until they have caramelized, appropriately another 5-7 minutes.

Pour in the cider vinegar to deglaze the pan, and stir to get up all of the brown bits.

Add the apples, stirring until they’ve heated.

Cover the pan for another 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Finish off with more salt and pepper, as needed.

Serves 4 as a side dish and 2 as a main dish.

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