Tag Archives: bacon

Bacon Gravy…omg!

This is the week before Mother’s Day and plans need to be made for all the glorious Moms out there!  My wonderful mother died three years ago and I’ve got to tell y’all, not a day goes by that I don’t think of her throughout the day.  She taught us so much beginning when we were small and instruction and advice ended the day she stopped speaking.  She was positively brilliant, wise, just, scrupulously honest and incredibly kind.  Even now, when I find myself in a pickle, I think to myself, “What would Mama do?”.  Funny, because I always know in my heart what she would have done.  To get her point across she would often tell me a story of something which happened when she was a girl on her father’s farm in Puerto Rico.  Growing up she lived in the country, outside of the town of Fajardo, with her parents, four sisters and five brothers.  My grandfather’s property sprawled down to the ocean, easily containing a cooling stream for the children to play and the boys to fish.  My grandmother had, I’ve been told, an exquisite rose garden.   My grandfather had horses and rode extensively to inspect his holdings.  The five boys all had horses and dogs but not the girls.  Oh my no! No.  The girls had china dolls, paints, smocks and easels, poetry…sigh.  That’s how it was in that household.  Anyway, Mama said when she was a little girl she was inside the house, standing next to an open window, simply looking out, longing to run free.  It was a glorious day.  The sun was shining brightly and fat bumblebees hovered over sweet meadow flowers giving Skipper, Swallowtail and Harlequin butterflies a run for their money.  Mama was stuck in the house with nothing fun to do while the boys were out having life altering adventures.  She stood quietly, staring out when, from around the corner of the house, came little Antonio, skipping along as happy as one could be.  Antonio was the youngest son of Pedro and Angelina, who lived on the farm.  Pedro drove my mother and her siblings to school and back everyday in my grandfather’s coach.  After dropping the children off, he continued into town with a list of items needed that my grandmother had drafted earlier in the morning.  Mama watched as her little friend pranced and hummed oblivious of any eyes on him.  He, too, was captivated by the beauty of the morning.  And then my mother thought, “Oh! I would give anything to be Antonio!”.  She watched as the boy disappeared into the meadow.  Minutes later she was still staring out of the window when she saw Angelina, Antonio’s mother, coming around the same corner of the house.  She, however, wasn’t happily ambling along.  No.  Oh, no.  She came angry and red in the face.  Her back was up and her blood was boiling.  In her hand Angelina slapped a brown leather belt while she bellowed, “Antonio!  Antonio!”.  Mama knew Antonio was going to get it and get it hard.  Her first thought was, “Oh, thank you, God, that I’m not Antonio! I don’t want to be anyone except myself!”.  And then Mama told me you never know what’s around the corner for other people, you never know what life is going to throw at you, be it good or bad  so be happy in your own self and with your life.  I’ve never forgotten that lesson, Mama, and I thank you for this one and so many others you’ve shared with us.  Happy Mother’s Day to all!

This is an old Southern recipe used when there’s no sausage to make gravy.  It’s heavenly!  Serve it over biscuit or country fried steak.  In the photos I made home fries topped with thick, broiled tomato slices.  There may have been fresh mozzarella melted on the tomatoes:)  Over the cheese I heaped flash sautéed fresh spinach, I covered the spinach with a fried egg and finished with a liberal pour of bacon gravy.  Sounds like Mother’s Day brunch to me!

Bacon Gravy

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 10 thick cut slices bacon
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion or 1 small onion
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  •  2 cup half and half plus extra if needed to thin out gravy
  • salt and black pepper
  1. Cook bacon until crispy.  Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.  Reserve bacon drippings separately.
  2. To a heavy bottomed pan add two tablespoons of bacon drippings.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Add the flour and whisk thoroughly for a minute or two so the flour is cooked.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of half and half and continue whisking until the gravy has thickened.
  6. Continue adding the half and half in 1/2 cup increments until the gravy has thickened almost to the consistency you want.
  7. Crumble the bacon into the pan and whisk in.
  8. Continue whisking the gravy until it reaches the desired consistency.  Or if the gravy is too thick add a tablespoon or two of half and half and whisk in until the gravy is to your liking.
  9. Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Advertisements

A Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich…the Southern BLT

Although the Tar Heels lost their football game on Saturday, Merritt’s is always a win for a BLT.  Our son, James, went back to UNC this past weekend to visit friends, hang out at the house, catch the game and drop by some of his favorite dives he enjoyed during his college days.  Anyone who went  to UNC knows Merritt’s.  Their BLT’s, pimento cheese and sour dough bread are probably known world wide.  Okay, well, if it’s not known world wide then at the very least it’s wildly popular in mid-state North Carolina.  James took us for lunch during one of our first trips to visit him and we flipped over the place.  Merritt’s stacks generous mounds of bacon strips entangled in a crispy, salty jumble.  Added to the sandwiches are juicy slices of ruby red tomatoes and cold, crunchy leaves of lettuce .  All this is bound together with a liberal slather of good mayonnaise on the bread of your choice.  Our mouths drooled while our eyes were wide open with wonderment.  It was the first of many adventures, culinary and otherwise, we shared with James.  In fact, ALL our weekends with him at UNC were sensational.  Our favorite boy was genuinely excited to see us, a marvelous host and a most fun master of ceremonies.  He introduced us to UNC football and basketball games, Parent’s Weekends for both school and fraternity and all the best restaurants on Franklin Street and in Chapel Hill.  We became acquainted with James’ friends and fraternity brothers, shop keepers, bell hops and waiters .  I look back at those days with such happiness and fondness.   Our son is always loving, thoroughly enjoyable and nonjudgemental even the time when Mama may have skirted the boundaries of proper parental behavior.  Yes, there is one Parent’s Weekend that comes to mind.  His fraternity had a cocktail party at the house Friday night.  They had a band set up in the formal room or big hall, I don’t recall the name of the room and I don’t dare call James at his work and ask because he won’t want me to write this and may become slightly irritated with me soooooo… anyway the boys had several kegs tapped and ready to pour and a myriad of handles out; the pledges had spent the day cleaning so the house sparkled.  Everything seemed to be perfect.  The only hitch was the cocktail party started at 11:00…at night.  Gentle Reader, I am IN THE BED at 9p.m. and, more often than not, lights are out at 10:00.  It was tough staying awake that night but no one was going to call me a party pooper.  Oh, hell no.  I had to keep up and keep up I did.  Drink after drink, before dinner, during dinner, after dinner… honey, time we hit that party this girl was LIT.UP.  James gave us a tour of his room, introduced us to more brothers all the while the band played on, cranking out hit after hit and, of course, we kept on sippin’.  Don’t want to let anybody down.  And what a time we had!  James and I danced to song after song reassuring me he’d have plenty of dances later with his gorgeous date after Daddy and I went back to the hotel.

Shaggin’ the night with away with boysie!

 

What a time we had!  While dancing it occurred to me the band sounded incredibly familiar and it turns out I HAD heard the band, Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts, at some party somewhere when I was in college!  It was positively magical.  Until James walked up and shouted in my ear so only I could hear, and these were his exact words, “It’s time to go home, Mama.  C’mon.  Time to go.”  He told me the following morning at the 9:00a.m. Bloody Mary tailgate he realized it was time for me to go when he looked over and saw I was dancing in the corner by myself.  Ouch, that hurts.  But James, prince that he is, has never made fun of me or thrown it back in my face.  No.  He’s quite aware I may get a bit out of hand every now and again…we all do and there’s just no nice reason to be holier than thou.  But, boy, did we have fun.  And I’ll end this story by adding my husband, Jimmy, has never poked fun at me over this.  Nope.  Not a word.

Probably the first time my Yankee husband ever set foot in a frat house. You have to admit though, we had a pretty good time!

Happy Parent’s Weekend everybody.  Hope all of yours are as splendiferous as ours were.  And I expect all of you to explore the towns where your kids are studying, their friends, suitemates, the town folk and all the foods and customs that go with them!

Bacon Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

  • Servings: 2 large sandwiches
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 slices bread of your choice, toasting optional
  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha or hot chili sauce of your choice
  • 4 thick, fried green tomato slices.  If you need a recipe type “fried green tomatoes” in the upper right search box.
  • bib lettuce leaves, washed, dried and stem taken out
  • 5 slices thick cut bacon already cooked
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Lay out bread slices.
  2. In a small bowl mix mayonnaise and chili sauce until completely mixed.  Add additional chili sauce to taste.
  3. Divide evenly and spread mayo-chili sauce mixture on one side of each slice of bread.
  4. Place one tomato slice on two of the four slices of bread.
  5. Break bacon slices in half, vertically, and arrange 5 pieces on top of the tomato slices.
  6. Carefully place lettuce over the bacon.
  7. Top the lettuce with another slice of tomato and dust with black pepper.
  8. Place the remaining bacon on top of the tomato slice and top that with the second slice of bread.
  9. Gently press down when slicing in half.
  10. Serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Bacon Jam with Spiced Rum

Lately I’ve been leaning towards simple but satisfying weekend dinners.  I find Saturdays can be exhausting, whether one is grocery shopping, making Home Depot and dry cleaning runs or staying home to spend the day doing yard work.  I always seem to bite off more than I can chew  and pay dearly for it hours later with sore muscles or Sunday morning when the alarm goes off at 6:15 to get ready for 7:30 mass.  No, weekends aren’t always the restful breaks we want them to be.  In order to make life easier and keep my family happy, I often prepare some sort of grilled sandwich or panino, served with a salad and some fruit, for dinner at the end of the week.  This stuff makes a sandwich absolutely sing.  The jam may be cooked in a crock pot or stove top.  I feel the crock pot just makes the entire process foolproof plus one doesn’t need to check on it every half hour to make certain it’s not too dry or, worse yet, burning.  But it’s up to you as either way yields a gorgeous product.   On Thursday I prepared this bacon jam and we enjoyed it over the weekend.  Saturday night I roasted brussel sprouts  and tossed them mid-roast with a few spoonfuls of the jam.  I’m sorry to say they were so good they were eaten before I could snap a photo.  You’ll just have to take my word they were fantastic!  I made grilled cheese sandwiches with Monterey jack cheese on a rich, dark whole-grain bread and spread both slices of bread liberally with a swath of bacon jam.  They were delicious served with the brussel sprouts and cold apple slices.

img_4152

For the Super Bowl game I kept my people entertained by giving them bacon jam palmiers made from store-bought puff pastry.  They were gone before you could say, “lickety-split”.  I spread the jam evenly over each sheet of puff pastry, rolled up the sides, sliced them with dental floss and baked them off.  What a luxury!  Even easier is to only roll one side and you’ll have pinwheels instead of palmiers.

img_4142

Monday morning as my son headed off to work I surprised him with the same grain bread toasted, bacon jam on both pieces of bread and a fried, organic egg nestled in the middle.  That’s some kind of treat, huh?  I hope you try this recipe.  I’m pretty sure you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy it…including directly off the spoon!

Bacon Jam with Spiced Rum

  • Servings: 2 1/2 to 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 1/2 pounds thick sliced bacon, if the package is a few ounces less that’s fine
  • 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup spiced rum, I use Captain Morgan
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, I use dark amber
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 packed cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/8 teaspoon or 1 large pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. In a large skillet cook bacon over medium high heat until the bacon is crisp but not burned.  Transfer the bacon to drain on paper towels and drain the pan of all but 3-4 tablespoons of bacon grease.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and return the pan to the heat.  Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until the onion begins to soften and turn clear.
  3. To the pan add all of the remaining ingredients except the red pepper flakes and stir until all the ingredients are well mixed and any browned bits of bacon are loosened and combined.
  4. Crumble the bacon by hand directly into the onion mixture and stir well.
  5. If cooking in a crock pot, transfer the mixture to your slow cooker.  Set the temperature to high and allow to simmer uncovered for 3 1/2-4 hours.  The liquid should be somewhat syrupy.
  6. If cooking stove-top drop the heat to low and allow to simmer for 2 hours uncovered.  Check the pan every 30 minutes and stir.  If the mixture is sticking to the bottom of the pan lower the heat a bit and add 1-2 tablespoons of water.
  7. From the crock pot or the pan transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender or use an immersion blender and pulse until the jam still has texture and a few small chunks.  Try not to over-blend.
  8. Allow to cool 30 minutes, add the red pepper flakes and stir well to combine.
  9. Spoon into clean jam jars and cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
  10. The jam will keep 2-3 weeks stored in the refrigerator.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Blue Ribbon Broccoli Salad

I have always hated broccoli.  The smell of it cooking made me gag.  My older sister, Cynthia, felt exactly the same and to this day we both run at the mere sight of broccoli on the stove.  As little girls we sometimes fought like cats and dogs but, regarding broccoli, we were always in agreement.  It did not go unnoticed by the two of us that Puerto Ricans didn’t embrace vegetables; red beans and rice, sliced tomatoes and avocados were the only vegetables to grace our grandparents’ dining room table.  Our summers on the island were stress free and complete indulgence.  It was during one of our summer sojourns our neighbors, Don Juan and Dona Angelita Orta, issued an invitation to dine with them that evening.  It was understood the summons was for Cynthia; I was not included.  I believe we were around the ages of eight and six and, regrettably, I was sassy, impulsive, unconcerned with hygiene and may have had a slight tendency to lie.  It goes without saying, Cynthia was the golden grandchild and I was the disgraced, six year old ne’er-do-well.  And Cynthia took full advantage.  She made certain I overheard her discussing which of our matching dresses she should wear.  Seething with impotent anger and pea green with jealousy I retreated to our bedroom.  I’d rather loll on my bed, stare at the ceiling and let the mosquitos bite me than endure her smug and simpering side eyes.  Late in the afternoon she was bathed, her hair brushed until it shone like mahogany and she  was dressed in one of her many party dresses.  I remained on my bed…most certainly smelling like a child who had spent the morning playing outside in the heat of the day and most definitely with the attitude of a defiant, petulant schoolgirl.  The time came for her to leave and while she ran a hairbrush one last time through her hair and told me goodbye, I replied with a hateful hiss, “I hope they serve you broccoli! Lots of it.”  She blanched at my comment knowing if they did, she would be obliged to eat it.  And eat it with a smile on her face.  Good manners are everything.  I didn’t look at her nor did I say goodbye as she left the house escorted by one of my aunts.  My nasty outburst had been heard by my family but seeing how dejected I looked and how low I felt, they said not a word and left me alone.  I stayed on that bed sulking, allowing the occasional mosquito to whine past my ear before finishing it off with a fast slap of my hand, for once not feeling satisfaction after the kill.  The phone rang in the other room and, after a moment or two, quick footsteps were heard.  “Alicia, levantate!” “Alicia, get up!” “The invitation was for both of you!”  My heart soared…then quickly filled with fear and apprehension.  “Titi, do you think they’ll serve us broccoli?”, I asked as I was hastily bathed.   I didn’t want to go next door where I knew, in my heart of hearts, we would be served a gleaming platter of emerald-green nasty.  Off I went dressed to match Cynthia, little white socks and Mary Janes on, not ready to face my comeuppance or eat humble pie in the shape of, gag me, the dreaded cruciferous known as broccoli.  The Orta’s housekeeper, Tata, whom I adored, answered the door.  I was welcomed with unconditional love from all.  And broccoli was not served.  I learned my lesson, though.  Hence forth I have tried to wish others well and, yes, over the years there have been many, many lapses in my thoughts and behavior but I will keep on trying!

fullsizeoutput_159d

I only eat broccoli raw but I love it and this is one of my favorite ways to have it.  This salad is both sweet and savory; the carrots and dried cherries lend sweetness, the bacon and scallions are savory and while the toasted almonds provide a flavor link.  It needs no time to marinate, however, is equally delicious served the following day.  Cranberries may be substituted for the dried cherries although I feel the cherries bring much more flavor to the dish.  I cook my bacon in the oven.  The oven baked method is time-saving and clean up is a snap.  I rough chop almonds, cut about into thirds, then roast them in the oven.  I find I scorch too many nuts pan roasting them.    This salad may be served as a side dish or entrée but, regardless how it’s served, it will make a broccoli lover out of all!

fullsizeoutput_159f

Blue Ribbon Broccoli Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, I use reduced fat
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 bunches of broccoli, there are typically 2-3 heads per bunch
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 5 scallions
  • 3 carrots
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery seed and salt and whisk until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in refrigerator to chill.
  2. Cut broccoli into bite size florets and put in a large bowl.
  3. Cook bacon, drain well and chop or crumble.  Add to broccoli.
  4. Finely slice the scallions using all of the white and pale green.  Discard any tough, dark green ends. Add the scallions to the broccoli bowl.
  5. Using the large holes of a grater, grate the carrots into the bowl of broccoli.
  6. Rough chop the almonds, toast them, either in the oven or stove top, and add to broccoli.
  7. Rough chop the cherries then add to broccoli.
  8. Drizzle the mayonnaise dressing over the salad and toss well to completely combine.  Make certain all ingredients are covered with dressing.
  9. Serve each plate with a fresh grind of black pepper.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com