Saturday, June 28, 2008

Irish Bacon

There's a new law in town. Irish bacon may have spoiled me, I dunno. American bacon is just never gonna be as good anymore.

Unlike yer everyday American bacon, which comes in thin strips streaked with fat, Irish bacon, aka rashers, are big ol' slabs of thick cut pork, so lean that you can't even fry eggs in the grease left in the pan after 'em. But it looks so gorgeous as its frying, it curls up and ripples, swelling with goodness.

My friend Simon and I acquired some after I found out that he'd never eaten a grilled bacon and cheese and tomato sammich, but we saved the rest for breakfast. I made the bacon, he made some lovely fried eggs with a glorious Irish cheddar, and we ate it all with toast and tea. A wonderful way to start the day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

bacon potato chips

Bacon is a fairly popular potato chip (ahem, crisp) flavor (ahem, flavour) here in Ireland, but unfortunately, the chips don't really taste all that much like bacon. I sampled two varieties, Taytos and Rancheros.

Despite their adorable name, the Taytos were totally unremarkable. Greasy pathetic flattened salty discs with a hint of something more like bbq flavor. 

Is it just me or does that potato look like Mr Peanut? Also, isn't a little weird to have an anthropomorphized 
potato man gracing the front of a bag that contains his shredded deep-fried brethren?

The Rancheros, on the other hand, have a totally kickass package, and are delicious. They don't really taste like bacon. Potato chip flavors never taste like their inspiration. But whatever, they taste like delicious potato chip. Also, they have a very pleasing shape, 3 dimensional rectangles, perhaps meant to vaguely approximate a bacon strip? I guess the shape is about as similar as the flavor, so hey. In any case, a satisfying snack.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be potato chips.

At the end of the day though, nothing really matches the sleazy goodness of Hunky Dory's Buffalo flavor chips. Or, for that matter, the lyricism of their self description:

Buffalo are here! You've seen buffalo grazing the plains of North America in countless Westerns, but would you believe that these mighty animals which can weigh up to two tonnes now graze the plains of... Co. Meath. Yes, Ireland has a buffalo ranch. But don't expect to heard beating drums or see smoke signals in the vicinity of these buffalo. These hairy giants are farmed in much the same way as conventional cattle (except for the much stronger fences). So now thanks to Hunky Dorys, you can saddle up and try a taste of the Wild West.

I am resisting the temptation to say more about that. It's especially difficult, because I'm actually attending a lecture series on the Irish and Native Americans. 
Instead, I'll just say that oh man, Buffalo is scrumptious. 

the bacon briefcase

Forwarded to me by Alexis.
I have no idea.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

some truly fantastic bacon

I love bacon, but I generally just buy the Boar's Head stuff at the corner store - it's a step above, say, Oscar Meyer, but all the same, it's not exactly amazing. But just the other day, my friend Dan came over for breakfast and brought some absolutely fantastic bacon with him. Oh my goodness. Check it out y'all.

You see how thick those slices are? I fried 'em up on low heat so as to get a nice even cook, and oh man, they were delicious. They took longer to cook, due to the thickness, but wow they were tasty. It was like biting into a very thinly sliced pork chop. It was marvelous. I fried up some more for lunch, and then brought the remainder over to Kelly's for dinner, where she used it to make bacon fried rice. It had initially seemed like a pity to me to do anything but eat it straight but actually, the chopped chunks really highlighted the thick cut and fantastic flavor of it.

I dunno where Dan got it, but if you see the stuff around, treat yourself.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bacon Fried Rice

I know, I know, you're dubious. This seems like taking it too far. I was skeptical too, but my friend Kelly told me her parents used to make it for her all the time when she was a kid, and she had no notion that someone might find it unappealing until she got older and told other people about it. So I gave it a try, and you know? It's delicious! It's really not all that different from the bbq pork one finds in fried rice on occasion. And it strikes me as a surprisingly versatile dish, suitable for any meal of the day. If you think of the rice as doing potato duty for the day, it works well for breakfast, especially if you do like I did and throw some grated cheddar and hot sauce into it, otherwise it makes a great lunch or sleazy dinner (especially if you get creative and throw in some more vegetables, I imagine). I'm not sure that I made it the way Kelly and her family do, but here's what I came up with:

Bacon Fried Rice

2 strips bacon
Cooked Rice - it was half of what you get when you start with 1 cup of uncooked rice. Um. How much does rice expand when you cook it? Anyhow, proportions are obviously somewhat flexible
1/2 onion
1 egg
soy sauce
grated cheddar and some hot sauce 

Coarsely chop the bacon and throw into a pan over medium heat. As it cooks, chop the onion and add it to the pan. Let cook for a minute or two, or until the bacon is mostly cooked, then add the rice. Beat up the egg with some soy sauce and pour over the top. Turn the heat to high and stir-fry until the rice is crispy and the egg is cooked. If you're going with the breakfast-y variant, grate in some cheddar, stir until melted, and then serve, adding the hot sauce as desired. 

It sounds somewhat odd, I know, but you'll be surprised at how normal it tastes. Also - it's really not that greasy - no more so than normal fried rice. Actually, less so, it seemed to me. Two strips of bacon generate just enough fat to coat the pan - it's not the kind of meal that leaves your mouth all shiny. Honestly, it seems downright healthy.