Quite a nice Valentine's Day!
Where to begin? I guess it could start with a tweet on Twitter (#charcutepalooza). I tweeted that the bacon I had just made was the best I'd ever had. Mrs. Wheelbarrow congratulated me on converting. And I said that I had been converted last year, but now I was proselytizing. Indeed, I am here to sing the praises of curing your own bacon, and guanciale. They are totally worth all the sitting around I did, living my own life, while they did their own magical thing with salt and time, transforming into amazing cured products that turn everything they touch into tasty, tasty gold. That little number above? That was our appetizer on Monday night. Nice, right?
What made my bacon the best I'd ever had was the high-quality pork belly I had purchased at Fleisher's Meats. It's all about the ingredients. Everything will taste better and be better for you when it's all about the ingredients. Look at this pork belly.
And the after shot. I usually use this Saveur recipe, but this time omitted the seasoning in favor of just a bit of cracked pepper. I'm so glad I did. It was so simple and the flavor of the meat itself just shined.
Other than just having slices fried up for dinner or breakfast or whenever I could get a free minute, I enjoyed this special snack I made for Valentine's day:
I cooked some oysters right on the stovetop cast-iron grill alongside a few slices of bacon. You know they are done when they open their shells. (They go a lot quicker on an outdoor grill, but mine's asleep until spring.) Then, you can grab them with a oven-mitted hand and rip off the flat shell. Put them on a plate, top them with some bacon and a touch of chopped preserved lemons, chopped chives and cheers! Drink some champagne.
Oysters and bacon.
Part Two: Guanciale
I loved the Babbo recipe, and of course referred to Wrightfood, too. (Confession: I haven't bought my copy of Charcuterie yet. So far, I'm the only person sitting at the Barnes & Noble Thomas the Train play table watching my toddler play trains while reading a book on meat curing. That may change soon, though. Either I will get the book, or more people will be reading up on guanciale while playing trains. My favorite train? Salty!)
|Threading meat was a novelty.|
Look at that pristine white fat! I sauteed some up to make this bastardized version of an amatriciana sauce. A few slices fried up turns glassy first, and they a little browned on the edges. A taste reveals such sweetness (again, that Fleisher's meat) and nuttiness! This is what we ate tonight for dinner. Not bad for a stay at home mom whose two and a half year old is on a nap strike.
Chopped guanciale sauteed until golden. Add one medium onion, diced, saute until soft. Add one jar of sauce (homemade, canned, from my garden) slowly, until all is incorporated. Add a few chopped celery leaves (no parsley in the house, celery leaves from summer, frozen). Toss in pasta of your choice (organic wheat rigatoni), serve with pecorino shavings. Now, wolf it down and chase your toddler who is choking the cat and try to get him to sleep!