Pork Out: Pork Roast, Baked Beans, Balsamic Glazed Potatoes, Smothered in Bacon

4 Apr

Penny has her doubts about the baconalia.

Stephen and I launched a total baconalia this weekend. I bought two pounds of delicious organic apple-wood smoked pig bellies and decided to smother everything I put in my mouth in the stuff — within reason.

I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to pig products. Bacon cupcakes a la Robicelli’s, bacon dresses a la Lady Gaga, bacon gumballs, et al will never be part of my oeuvre, though I recognize and appreciate the undistilled chutzpah, imagination and socio-cultural zeitgeisty daring do each of those products represents.

No, I like my bacon with eggs or on the walls of the Metropolitan Museum.

Bacon represents the apotheosis of human achievement: fire, the domestication and humane rearing of animals (happy pigs taste better and I try to buy bacon at farmer’s markets and so should you — get to know your farmers, support local agriculture, do your duty as a member of liberal and civilized society, Alice Waters is the best, at the very least shill out an extra few bucks for organic, humanely raised stuff at Whole Foods, yada, yada, you know the drill), the miracle of curing and preserving meat for long winters, the recognition of the rights of women (seriously! In the twelfth century the phrase “bring home the bacon” was coined after churches in England promised members of their flock an entire side of bacon if they swore that they hadn’t abused or quarreled with their wife for a year and a day; men who “brought home the bacon” were justly praised, fussed over and ballyhooed), the invention of the frying pan and good old-fashioned deliciousness.

And yet, it’s so simple by itself. Why clog it up with buttercream? (Full disclosure: I did once make bacon peanut butter pie. It was delicious and fun and gross and debauched at the same time. Like doing three shots of whiskey in a row on an empty stomach, it’s just bad form and you’ll wake up feeling bad about yourself). A carefully sauteed little rasher tucked into egg sandwich transforms your breakfast experience into a happy land of tweeting cartoon bluebirds, where rendered, oinky fat that tastes like a salty-sweet acorn-scented bit o’ chaw tarts up a bland case of the carb and protein fuel Mondays. Where I’d normally plod, just a lashing of bacon makes me skip, twiddle, grin and gallop toward my day.

I come by my bacon obsession naturally; my dad is a notorious bacon fiend. When I was a kid, my mom would get up at the butt-crack of dawn and start frying up pounds of the stuff before we’d head off for a day of skiing in the winter. She would hastily pile it in the middle of a platter, throw it on the kitchen table and beat a retreat as my father and I descended on it, forks gleaming, eyes flashing and severe and wild remonstrations at the ready should one of us feel we hadn’t gotten our share.

These days, Dad and I swap bacon recipes with the same aura of suppressed hysteria and sacrosanct secrecy that problem gamblers employ when trading tips on horses. I trust his advice implicitly. Below, check out my dad’s recipe (well, really Giada’s recipe) for Bacon-Laced Pork Roast, plus my favorites for Baked Beans and Balsamic Glazed Potatoes. Oh, and Bacon Chutney-Sauce.

Penny doesn't know what she's missing

Bacon-Laced Pork Roast

Adapted from Stephen’s chef crush, the lovely Giada de Laurentiis

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup honey mustard
  • 2 TBSP whole-grain mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 TBSP minced rosemary
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pork loin (2-3 pounds)
  • 12 slices nicest bacon

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whisk together mustards, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste in small bowl.
  • Place pork loin in 9 x 13″ roasting pan and season with salt and pepper on all sides. Using a pastry brush, cover the loin completely with mustard mix.
  • Drape slices of bacon all over the roast, including the bottom side. Roast for 1 hour and take temperature. Continue to cook until it reaches 160 degrees. (If you don’t have a thermometer, cut into the pork; when the juices run clear, it’s done.
  • Some of the bacon may look less than golden and crisp. The top pieces will be nicely browned and ready to go, but I haven’t been able to tweak the recipe so that the bacon and the pork is ready at the same time. No worries — as the pork rests (give it 20 minutes), take off any vaguely flabby pieces and either finish them off in the oven, or in the microwave. When bacon is cooked, drape it back over the pork, slice and serve.
  • It pairs beautifully with Bacon Chutney, Baked Beans and the Balsamic Glazed Potatoes. It’s also brilliant on sandwiches.

Nutritional breakdown for Honey-Mustard Pork Roast: About 315 calories and 14 grams of fat.

Cost breakdown for Honey-Mustard Pork: If you buy really nice meat, it’s still about $3 a serving.

Verdict / In the Future: This is straight-forward, old-fashioned cooking at its best. As good three days later as it is on the day it was made.

Wee blankets of bacon

Baked Beans

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups navy beans, soaked overnight in brined water (4 quarts cold water + 3 TBSP kosher salt)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 large sprig rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 slices nicest bacon, one sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup apple vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP dark brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP molasses
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 1/2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Rinse and drain soaked beans.Put beans in Dutch oven and cover with cold water. Add bay leaf, sprigs of herbs, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, cover and bake in oven for about 1 hour, maybe more if the beans are old. Test them after 45 minutes. Drain beans, reserving 2 cups of cooking water. At this point, beans could be set aside for a day or so, or you can proceed. Place beans in a 9 x 13″ baking dish.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a big skillet, cook the sliced piece of bacon over medium heat until it renders a bit of fat, and starts to color, but isn’t cooked through — about 2 minutes. Add onion, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until soft, stirring frequently so onion and bacon don’t burn, about 5-10 minutes. Add cider and red wine vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, crushed pepper and cook for about 1 minute. Pour bacon-onion mix over beans. Add the 2 cups of reserved cooking liquid, cover with foil and cook for 45 minutes.
  • Whisk together maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and mustard in a small bowl.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, place 5 slices of bacon. Using a pastry brush, paint them with the syrup/balsamic glaze, using about half. Pop in the oven for 7 minutes, next to the beans.
  • Remove bacon from oven, flip with tongs, and brush with the remaining glaze. Cook for another 7-10 minutes, until cooked but not completely golden brown.
  • Remove bacon to plate and set aside. Put about 1/4 cup water in the bacon pan and pop back in the oven for a few minutes. Remove beans from oven, uncover and pour the bacon drip/caramel glaze from the pan over the beans. Bake uncovered for another 10 minutes. Top with glazed bacon and cook until bacon is gorgeously brown. Allow to rest and serve.

I hate waiting for dishes to "rest" but it's always worth it

Nutritional breakdown for Baked Beans: 300 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

Cost breakdown for Baked Beans: About $1.75 a serving.

Verdict / In the Future: Tangy, a kick of spice, just sweet enough, and rich enough for Croesus.

Balsamic Glazed Potatoes with Bacon-Onion Chutney Sauce

Makes 6 small servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 sprigs rosemary, minced
  • 5 sprigs thyme, minced
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar (don’t reach for your best in this application)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place potatoes in large pan of boiling and salted water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until they’re softened but not even close to done. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat a large Dutch oven or roasting pan (a dish that can be used on and in the stove) on the stove over medium-high heat. When hot, pour in oil, add bacon, onions, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Toss and cook for about 1 minute. Add potatoes, toss, add balsamic vinegar and cook until a bit of the balsamic has reduced, and everything has a good coating of glaze, about 5 minutes. Pop the top on and put it in the oven for about 1 hour, stirring the potatoes halfway through.
  • Remove the potatoes from the mix with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered dish or pot. Put the roasting pan with the balsamic glaze, the onions and the bacon on the stove and crank up the heat. Cook down for a few minutes, add 1 cup chicken stock and allow to cook down for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat.
  • Using an immersion blender and being careful because of the hot liquid, quickly blend together the mix into a quasi chutney-sauce. It’s going to a rather alarming shade of brown, but it will be delicious with the pork, potatoes, beans — and as a spread on sandwiches.

Nutritional breakdown for the Balsamic Glazed Potatoes and Chutney: All in, about 200 calories and 5.5 grams of fat per serving.

Cost breakdown for Balsamic Glazed Potatoes and Chutney: About $1.75 a serving.

Verdict / In the Future: The glaze on the potatoes seems to penetrate their inner cores. Stephen thought I’d brined them — I highly recommend Yukon Golds for their buttery texture and durability in this dish, but any waxy potato would work. Oh, and it’s totally doable to make all of these dishes at the same time since the oven temps are all the same. Having a few friends on hand to giggle with and fetch you Anchor Porters helps too.

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One Response to “Pork Out: Pork Roast, Baked Beans, Balsamic Glazed Potatoes, Smothered in Bacon”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. We Just Need To Veg: Asparagus Fried Rice, General Tso’s Tofu Sammies, Chocolate Shortbread Sandwich Cookies « Sunday in the Kitchen - April 11, 2011

    […] a few weeks ago on our meat-heavy fare. After requesting no more beef, I innocently prepared a Baconalia. This week, he clarified: “Please, no more meat. Let’s eat something that didn’t […]

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