Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Have Given Myself Over to the Pork Side, Episode I - Bacon

Cue the Darth Vader music! I now realize that it is pointless to resist. I have given myself over to the PORK side!

As most of you know, I was raised in a Conservative Jewish house on Long Island, in New York suburbia. We did not keep kosher (though my father's mother did), but we generally observed quite a few of the dietary rules imposed by Kashruth - more as a cultural than religious matter (my mother wouldn't know what to do with a sausage or pork roast if you gift-wrapped it for her). Drinking a glass of milk with a meat meal, for example, seemed gross (and it still does, to me), and I never put cheese on a cold meat sandwich - but that doesn't keep me from enjoying veal parmigiana. And other than the occasional package of bacon (after all, who doesn't like bacon), you would seldom find any shellfish or pig parts in the house where I grew up. Ironically, after I moved out, my mother because enamored of ham and cheese sandwiches; ham had always been an unidentified object in our house, and I always passed on it at school lunch. My pre-marital exposure to pork was mostly bacon (yum!) and the occasional taste of mass-market sausage (not so yum).

Since I moved to Cleveland in 1995, I have been exposed to a world of artisanal pork, and have tasted many varieties of chops, roasts, sausages, and charcuterie with pleasure. It was with this background that we ordered half a Berkshire hog from Blue Egg Farmer Kathy Breychak this year.

Our first tastes of our hog were mostly bacon. We also sampled some sausage, which we ate like burgers:

Inspired by Michael Rulman's BLT Challenge, we enjoyed a few amazing BLT's once the tomatoes came in this summer.

BLT: Garden Lettuce, Tomato, & Hungarian Pepper, Bob's White Toast, Breychak Bacon, Mayo

None of our BLTs would have been eligible for Ruhlman's contest, because the butcher of the hog smoked the bacon (and the mayo was Hellman's). These were some of the most delicious moments of our summer and fall, though.

BLT "Deluxe" - with Farmers Market Egg:


And finally - the last BLT of the season - on Bob's Freshly Baked Wheat Bread - I couldn't bear to toast it!


And now, summer is over and the tomatoes are gone. Sniff.

We have used the bacon grease in so many kitchen applications; the smell and taste have been everywhere - no old coffee can for this liquid gold! I tried - I tried to resist my feelings. But the rich, sweet smell and taste of the Pork Side had me in its grasp. Would there be no salvation? Save me Obi-Wan Kenobi - you are my only hope!

To be continued . . . .

1 comment:

  1. I feel like a Mel Brooks fit is coming on ... "May the pork be witcha!"

    Nancy, if you were trying to achieve Pavlovian reactions from your readers, you definitely succeeded. I have never wanted to lick my computer screen more (ewww!). :)