2017 odds and ends
January 7, 2017
Still attempting to get back into the swing of cooking in this new year. One thing I HAVE managed to do is cook two or three good breakfasts, even though I haven’t done much in the way of dinner. Well, I did cook dinner last night, albeit it took twice as long as I thought it would and I don’t have any pictures.
But I have pictures of breakfast, yes, I do. Above would be a basic breakfast I cooked one day this past week, when I knew I’d be busy as the dickens all week and this might be the major meal of the day. And it contains one of the cooking revelations I’ve discovered recently, namely, sous vide bacon.
I have been buying Wright’s bacon, which is my bacon o’choice, fairly regularly of late because Kroger has had it on sale pretty frequently. When I see it at $5.99 per 24-oz package (it’s normally $9.99), I reflexively throw three or four packages in my cart, bring them home and freeze them. I was up to maybe eight or ten packages in the freezer when the Memphis Guinea Pig noted he had tried the Serious Eats method of cooking bacon sous vide for 12-18 hours and then just searing it in the skillet for a minute or two.
H’mm, sez I. That makes some sense. So I threw a couple of packages of Wright’s, still in the grocery store package (why waste a perfectly good vacuum seal? It’s not like I’m gonna season my bacon) in the water bath with the ribs for Christmas dinner, because the bacon is going to cook 18 hours against the ribs’ 36, at the same 145F temp.
Pulled the packages out of the bath, and man, there’s a lot of fat and bacon jus in there. I could see major problems if that all got solidified in the fridge, so I clipped a corner on each package and drained it. Got better than three cups of fat and jus, about half and half each.
People. This is good bacon. You can sear it in a hot skillet, just to get it crispy, but the inside is soft and melty and juicy. The Serious Eats procedure would have you sear it two minutes on one side, and 10 seconds on the other; I prefer a minute per side, and holding the ends down with a fork so they’ll get crispy, too. If I were using the right shape skillet, I’d use my panini press to flatten the bacon so you don’t have a problem with limp spots.
An added advantage is that it cooks quickly enough that it doesn’t generate a whole lot of bacon-y smell, which is a migraine trigger for Child A, which means that now I can cook bacon when she’s at home. Yay, me!
A word: This will likely not work with el cheapo grocery store bacon. You need a thick-sliced, relatively high-quality country-style bacon.
Anyway. That was that breakfast.
Hearkening back to Christmas morning, and again Friday morning, because it was a snow day and colder than 14 kinds of hell, I rolled out an old white-trash favorite, pigs in blankets. These are one of the major reasons for Pillsbury crescent rolls to exist (along with breakfast pizza, and fruit pizza, and veggie snack pizza; h’mm, haven’t made any of those in a while; need to go get more crescent rolls and try those on again, too), as well as for Little Smokies cocktail sausages. The other white-trash reason for Little Smokies, of course, is to dump them in a crock pot with a combo of grape jelly and barbecue sauce and simmer them for your next party. Don’t laugh. They’re good!
So I made us pigs in blankets, which I had with honey mustard, and I think Child A had plain. They’re also good with strawberry jam. And they’re a must-do for holiday breakfasts.
And finally, there was this morning’s breakfast, which yet again convinces me I have completely lost my ability to bake biscuits. I had jamon iberico I found at, of all places, Aldi. I had plenty of farm eggs. I had eleventy opened jars of different sorts of jams, jellies and preserves. Seemed a no-brainer kind of breakfast to me.
So I got out my shortening, made my biscuits, left the dough very moist, worked it only minimally, cut them out without twisting the cutter, used buttermilk, used a full tablespoon of baking powder. Damn things still didn’t rise.
Time was, I could make prize-winning biscuits (DID make prize-winning biscuits in 4-H Club, in fact). And my biscuits now taste fine. They just don’t rise. Nor did these. Maybe I had the dough TOO moist. Have to try again.
So we had all the above for breakfast this morning, and snacked our way through lunch, and there will be a good (I hope; it’s cooking in the Instant Pot as we speak) dinner tonight.
So you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em hang around for a report on THAT one.