I failed Father.
This evening I managed to create a dish with Father's hickory-smoked bacon that became less than the sum of its parts. It was sort of embarrassing, and rather confounding, as I usually like this particular dish quite well when there isn't bacon involved. No, it was not iced tea.
If I have some chicken breasts around I like to use the technique Jacques Pépin adapted from an old frog leg recipe*: cube the meat to 1", dry it, dust it with seasoned Wondra (extra-fine flour), fry it in some butter and oil until golden, then hit the whole thing with a handful of finely chopped parsley and garlic (persillade), stir, and serve. Persillade has gestalt. Two humble ingredients, heated briefly and tossed with a little fat, make otherwise dull breast meat almost sparkle in the mouth. How could a little chopped, super-smoky bacon not improve it? I even threw in some dijon and white wine until a thick sauce formed - that sort of fancy shenanigan always seems to do the trick with restaurant rabbit. The result?
Hospital food. Well, not precisely (this differed somewhat from a sullenly-proffered mattress-size tray of enchiladas with whole black olives inside), but the bacon flavor didn't permeate the way I thought it would (probably because chicken, unlike the starches I wrote of last time, is dense, and needs time to take on flavor, and maybe all the acids retarded the permeation of the smoke). My hopes, built up as they were by the bacon's previously demonstrated power, were dashed, and that can deaden even passable flavors. As many a failed chef holding a lightly steamed, intact-but-for-one-tiny-bite chuck roast has often been heard to say,"I guess I should have gone with a braise."
No telling what the future holds from here. I'm like a lost boy in a rowboat, and he sees another lost boy, this one in a dinghy, and he thinks to himself, "you know, we're really not all that different."
- - - Scholar's Korner - - -
* Fast Food My Way, 2004 (p. 145)