Success With Four Slices Left
Time's running out for Father's Bacon, what with the next mystery shipment of pork hitting the vans today (I get an automated email letting me know that I had better be home or call in to the mothership if it's going to be otherwise). I've got four thick slices left after tonight's modest success, and I think maybe I'll even ask for a professional opinion as to what to do with them. There — any professional cooks out there? I've read and considered every recipe the readers have sent in, but these (with absolute respect to all contributors, and I hope to hear from more of you) peaked at wrapping a hot dog in bacon. Sure, on paper—technically—it's a remarkable achievement of charcuterie, but I feel like something as transcendent as smoked pork ought to do more than adorn an already-tasty hot dog. It ought to elevate something in need of its bountiful charity.
Foraging around my mental gallery of germane recipes this afternoon (price of admission: honor system; take one of the Chinese delivery menus I pretend are brochures), I considered the workhorse bistro salad of frisée with bacon and poached egg. Dress the lettuce, toss it with some lightly-rendered bacon and croutons, and drop a poached egg on top. How could you not like that? You would be a crazy fool with a nugget of cocaine under his eyelid if you tried to act like that would not be delicious.
A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE FINISHED DISH
On the left are two slices of Father's bacon in mid-render. On the right is a badly Photoshopped headshot of the final dish. I was so ashamed of my overexposed, washed out, hardcore-amateur picture that I put images of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il in each corner, in the hopes that they might wick away some of your ire and disappointment. Normally I like to make a big to-do of Achewood food photography, but I was rushed in this case. (I'm trying to get together a pithy statement about how temperature is the most important ingredient in any dish, bear with me.)
NOTES ON PREPARATION
Like a beaming grandmother who sprays perfume at an asthmatic infant whom she hopes to mold in her image, I put the bacon slices down to cook whole. After a fashion, something told me that a chef with a thermometer in his tricep pocket would have cut the bacon into its little lardons (French for "lil' lardy-bops") first. Something about edge texture and more attractive finish. I removed the meat from the pan and quickly dispatched the strips into 1/2-inch bits before returning them and finishing the render.
Meanwhile, I got an egg poaching. I tossed in some vinegar to help the egg bunch together and look lovely, but I used red wine vinegar (even though I was only making dinner for one person, I made a lot of hack mistakes like this). The top half of the egg wound up with some pink discoloration around it, so at the end of the thing I plated it upside down on the lettuce (and attempted that deft food photographer's slice, the one that frees a nice little rivulet of ooey-gooey yolk).
When the bacon was done, I turned it out onto some paper towels and poured the grease into a can of Coca-Cola Cherry Zero (I will make sure this subtle nuance is in the final recipe). The pan had two great fond-outlines from the original strips, and the crouton cubes I'd set to brown in there didn't scrape them up, so, once the croutons colored, I dumped them into the frisee and poured my dressing into the pan to release the chewy brown outlines. I'd never done a functional warm dressing before. It was exciting; I felt like a person with red pants on. I felt like a person with red pants who becomes something better than himself because of the pants he is taking a chance on. I'm sure you have all been there.
In all, I was glad to find myself returning to basic dishes. When you taste this bacon, you don't sit around talking about redolent wisps of deprecated hyacinth, or tumescent campylobacters (like with most bacons, I'd guess). After my first bungling tribulations with the first bacon of the Bacon of the Month Club, I've arrived at a plump little maxim: "it's bacon, not paid-by-the-word hackneyed Victorian food writing." Bacon is simple, like a man smoking a cigarette on a train platform in Budapest. He doesn't need you, and he doesn't care if anyone cares about you. He's perfect at what he does, which is make everything porous smell like him. If a wolf ate him, the wolf would be named after him. The wolf would stink forever, and no hunter would place much value on his pelt.
Next time: putting Father to rest.