Product review: Bacon Connoisseurs Week
Bring home the bacon!
When I moved to the UK many years ago I used to find the ‘full English’ completely alien. Why would anyone eat savoury stuff for breakfast? Being Italian, it was brioche and cappuccino for me. Yet a few years later, particularly helped by the fact that I married a true Brit, I do love a savoury brunch, and all the lovely stuff that make one up, from sausages to free range eggs and why not, muffins.
Above all, I really learned to appreciate bacon, the real English, proper bacon, not the Italian pancetta (which is totally great in main courses, but totally wrong in breakfasts) nor the crispy American style slivers of blackened meat and fat.
Yet, it is not as easy to find good stuff. So much choice in supermarkets and so much variety… I follow my expert husband’s taste and his discerning palate. He dreams about the mythical long back, which is apparently as hard to find as a needle in a haystack. We even asked our local (famous) butchers to procure it for us but alas, the result was not what @bmcboy remembers from his childhood. He tells me that his mum used to save the bacon fat and dip the toasts in, to prolong the flavour of the meat after the meat has been polished off by the two hungry kids.
|Free range streaky bacon from Ludlow
Today, we do buy only British bacon, and mostly, from our local butcher or if we happen to do a big shopping, from Waitrose. Unsmoked, middle back is our choice, and personally, I like it with as little fat as possible – I know it’s a sort of contradiction in terms but that’s me! And today, one could even hear me saying that nothing beats a bacon sarnie – juicy meat, a tiny bit of brown sauce or ketchup in nice white bread roll, that’s simple and delicious.
But bacon is versatile enough to use in a variety of recipes!
If the Italian pancetta goes well with amatriciana (in cubes) or wrapping a chicken leg with some thyme and mustard seeds, English bacon is perfect for more substantial bacon presence. I received some interesting recipes by Fay Ripley
from the lovely Wild Card PR
team, with a wide variety of dishes using bacon.
Inspired by one of these in particular one evening I made a pasta dish using bacon and leeks, and we really enjoyed it. Simple,quick and very tasty with a sprinkle of black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan. Probably not found on an Italian table any time soon, it was a great example of brit / ital. cuisine mish-mash. But when I was sent some gorgeous looking samples of free range, British bacon I had to try the recipe in full. During Bacon Connoisseur Week, it couldn’t have been more timely.
The one I particularly liked was the Bacon, Leek and Sweetcorn pie. It came out delicious and it was a great, warming, easy to prepare, mid week dinner. If I had more time, I would make the pastry myself, maybe using rough pastry to give the pie itself more consistency. I added some tarragon as well and swapped cream cheese for low fat crème fraiche.
The original recipe is as follows:
Bacon, leek and sweetcorn puff pie
Oven temperature: Gas Mark 7, 200˚C, 400˚F
2 dry cured smoked bacon or gammon steaks (about 200g each in weight), cut into cubes
15ml (1tbsp) Oil
2 leeks, washed, halved and sliced
200g low fat/light cream cheese
325g can of sweetcorn, drained (alternatively use 260g of frozen sweetcorn)
500g packet of pre-made puff pastry
Milk and egg, whisked, for glaze
Black pepper – to taste
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7, 200˚C, 400˚F.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the bacon and leeks and cook until the bacon has changed colour and the leeks are beginning to soften.
Add the cream cheese and combine together well. Heat through and allow to thicken slightly for about 2-3 minutes. Add the black pepper and sweetcorn then place in a large 1 litre/2 pint pie dish.
Roll out the pastry to a size that will roughly cover the dish – decorate the edge with a pattern (a good effect is to use the edge of a small round glass) and if you wish cut out shapes to decorate the top of the pie. Brush pastry with the milk and egg glaze.
Place in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and well risen. Serve with a selection of seasonal green vegetables.
Thanks Wild Card PR for sending the recipes and the bacon