Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bacon lentil side dish

Like clockwork, as my return to Amereeka draws nigh, I begin burning through my pork reserves like an asteroid entering Earth's atmosphere. I've had some luck before uniting lentils and pork, so I figured I'd give it another go. I poked around the internet and found this recipe, and also this one, and sort of combined them.

3 glasses green lentils, bacon, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, fennel, chard, red wine vinegar

I put 3 glasses of lentil in a pot with the scraps (ie, the leafy bits) of a fennel bulb and a teeny bunch of celery* and added 1 liter or so of boiling water and two packets of Goya Sazon powder. In the future, I'd add some bullion as well, or at least some salt.

As those cooked, I fried half a pound of bacon in two different pans over medium low heat. When it was done, I placed it on paper towels, and poured the grease into one pan.

I finely diced the fennel, two onions, and chard stems and put them in the pan I'd poured the grease out of, adding a little bit of grease from the other pan. I let that cook over medium heat until softened but still firm. Meanwhile, I chopped the celery and (peeled) carrot quite fine and put them aside.

At this point, my lentil were done, so I drained them, discarded the scraps, and put them in a big bowl. I added the sautéed onion, fennel and chard stems. In the less greasy pan, I cooked the celery and carrot for a couple minutes, until slightly mellowed but still crunchy, and added them to the bowl.

I chopped the chard leaves into strips then chunks of strips and put them in the pan, drizzling plenty of red wine vinegar over them. I pressed in 4 cloves of garlic and cooked over low heat, stirring. When the garlic had lost its bite and the chard was wilted and well infused with garlic and vinegar flavor (2-3 minutes), I added it to the bowl. Then I crumbled the bacon in and stirred everything.

I tried to make a dressing with mustard, bacon grease, salt, pepper and olive oil, but it wasn't very good so I trashed it. Instead, I added plenty of salt and pepper to the bowl and more red wine vinegar and served it. And it was pretty dang good, if I do say so myself. I think having the chard leaves be the primary dressing vehicle, as it were, kept the flavors of the other ingredients from being overpowered. The texture was nice, crispety and crunchety - important, I think, with lentils, which can very easily be sort of chalky. Overall, definitely a success!

*Turks don't seem to recognize celery stalks as food. You can buy celery root, but the stalks are hard to find, and usually scrawny, pathetic little things thinner than a drinking straw.

Bacon soda

I've been meaning to post about this but I think my taste buds are struggling to suppress the memory. Awhile back I was contacted by a representative of the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop, asking if I'd review their new bacon soda. Of course I said yes, with the usual provisos - no guarantee of a positive review, but you do retain veto power, so if you send me something awful, I won't post a bad review if you don't want me to. Apparently, the Rocket Fizz folks decided that even bad reviews could be good publicity, so here's the deal: this stuff is super gross.

I was dubious of bacon soda from the get-go, but this was far more repulsive than even I imagined. It has a weird grassy flavor, like a vaguely bacon-y dirt. What's worse though - and maybe it's just my imagination, generated by some chain of associations that happens in your brain when you consume a pork flavored beverage, but I could swear it had a slightly greasy texture. And to top it off, it was sickeningly sweet. Essentially, it was all the worst things about both bacon and soda, united into one foul product. Even the smell is rank. I'm vaguely glad I tried it, in the way you are pleased with yourself for doing something that few others would, but it's not even the kind of interesting gross that makes you want to have another sip a few minutes later. It's just disgusting.