Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 26, 2016: Short Post of Ribs (pork); Traveling

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a very short post. I'm doing a bit of travel and hope to have some bacon experiences from the road.

THIS WEEK I made some St. Louis Style ribs. Purchased at Heinen's; two brothers from Ohio who've taken Illinois by storm. Great supermarket not too far from my house.

When you get your ribs, be sure and ask the butcher if they will strip off the membrane. A lot of folks say it's easy, but I always wind up leaving a few sections intact, or gouging the pig (which would be bad). Better to leave such a delicate operation to the professionals. They were more than happy to oblige!

Then, while the smoker is getting ready with lump charcoal in the chimney, I dusted the racks with a heavy dose of Carolina Dirt, from, of all places, Chicago! A fantastic rub and my personal favorite. The family likes it a lot. Let the ribs come to room temperature; I let them sit for about 45 minutes.

Then into the smoker for two hours (at 225) with a combination of Apple and Cherry smoke. Then out of the smoker, into a tight wrap of foil and back into the heat (still 225) for two more hours.  The first two hours get the smoke right; the next two hours tenderize the meat.

Finally, into an oven on convection at 300 for about an hour, after being mopped with barbecue sauce. Well, two of the ribs were mopped; Debbie likes hers with dry rub only. The BEST sauce, in my opinion, is Two Fat Guys.

They came out fantastic, and while not bacon, they are certainly porcine!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 19, 2015: Video of Allan Benton, and Seaweed that Tastes Like Bacon?

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a video of Allan Benton, the "King of Bacon:, and seaweed that tastes like bacon. But first:

HOW ABOUT A BACON WATCH?  Well, not quite, but pretty cool nonetheless. See article here. Of course, it's always time for bacon! 1.4 Million views as of 7/17 at 4pm Central... certainly higher when you click below to go to the site.

BACON FLAVORED SEAWEED? Well, not really. It's actually seaweed that tastes like bacon naturally. Supposedly, it's a 'superfood', dense with nutrients. Vegetarians like my daughter Jennifer should try it! I'm really curious and will taste it myself when commercially available. Another product of academic research - out of Ohio State!  Article here. Above is a pic of a food researcher experimenting with the ingredient.

SON SAM SENT ME A VIDEO and you can watch it here. Part of the Zagat "A Day in the Life" series, it's about Allan Benton, who they call "the man behind the country's best bacon" as he supervises his East Tennessee smokehouse.  Great stuff.  Click the image to go to his website; I'm ordering me up some BACON!

CLUB 43 is a restaurant in Lake Bluff, IL, at which we've never eaten... until the other night. Really great shrimp Aolei dish with bacon and guac.  Our waiter Eric was quite tall and quite helpful.

FINALLY, A SHOT OF SON JACK'S MAC AND CHEESE ordered up at Miramar in Highwood, IL. I had some of Debbie's bacon from her burger, but Jack absolutely loved this mac & cheese. Check out Miramar next time you're in Chicagoland; unbelievably awesome service, incredible Cuban ambience and outstanding food.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

July 12, 2015: Bacon and Lacrosse (what's not to like?) and PALEO BACON

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a few comments about bacon and pulled pork at Lacrosse tournaments, and some bacon at STONEHENGE.

THE US ARMY BURIED STUFF AT STONEHENGE, believe it or not. I've always wanted to figure out how to get Stonehenge into the blog. Well, here's my chance. A bunch of British archaeologists unearthed some WWII US Army mess gear there. 'Mess' in Army parlance means 'dining facility', believe it or not.

What did they find? Tins of sunscreen and bacon (in separate containers). The sunscreen was intact, but the bacon tins were empty! That makes perfect sense. No soldier is going to get sunburned in England! But they have to eat! Interesting read here.

BACON AND LAX - a great combination. Here's the Daug Pound courtesy of Red's Comfort Foods:

Attended the Bluegrass Lacrosse Festival a couple of weeks ago. The Vendor Village had a number of great food trucks, including one with a smoker trailer, and a great hot dog/hamburger truck (Daug Pound, above). Red's Comfort Foods has a great Facebook page. Of course I ordered some pulled pork from the trailer, and some bacon and hot dogs from Red. Great stuff.

My friend Paul Rokos sent me a neat recipe: Pork Carnitas. Go here for the recipe; it features pork shoulder and looks great by itself or in tortillas!

THIS WEEK'S BACON IS PALEO!  Many people have lamented that folks have a hard time obtaining bacon that doesn't have sugar in it. Well, it exists! Wonderful middle daughter Caitlin purchased it for me recently. Boasts "Sugar Free Dry Rubbed" and "Eat Like A Caveman" "Paleo Friendly":

Packaging looks great. No real aroma out of the box; maybe faint hickory but I couldn't tell. It cooked up pretty translucent, which is usually a sign of overcuring, and was pretty white. You can see that in the three-step photo below; cold, mid-cook, near end-cook; and then finally, on the paper towels.
It did taste pretty darn good, although wife Debbie said (as she usually does), "not enough salt", but it was nearly perfect for my taste. However, for the price, and for the size (8 ounces) it wasn't worth the trace sugar that is washed off the pork belly before smoking. Below, drying. It was pretty good.
Crispness, 3 out of 5; flavor, 3; succulence, 2.5. Lots of shrinkage.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 5, 2015: Independence Day Bacon, and Why We All Love Bacon

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with some bacon wrapped poppers, some pork jowl bacon and a great 4th of July fireworks display.

THIS WEEK'S BACON is not from the belly of the beast, but rather the jowl (cheek)! Daughter Jennifer brought it up from the city last weekend and I just make it up. Placing the cold pieces on the room-temperature griddle was a bit like putting a bacon jigsaw puzzle together. As opposed to the 'dress right, dress' approach to making bacon popularized by Oscar Mayer and others, the jowl is an irregular shape and doesn't lend itself to straight stippage.

The package was attractive, and I've had other bacon from The Smoking Goose, and it was good. Eager with anticipation, the bacon sizzled on the 'cue. I stepped away for a moment and it got a little overcooked, but was outstanding nonetheless.

As an encore, I did fry up some of my leftover Oscar, and as you can see, it was quite regularly shaped. Lined up perfectly.

And I conclude with the Oscar and the Jowl on the same plate. Reminds me of the fact that Army can march; Navy, on the other hand, is quite 'irregular' on the parade field (or the field of the Army/Navy football game). We'll beat them this year, December 12 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly. The below image came up with a cursory google search for "Army Navy march on comparison". There are many. We always seem to say "At least we won the march-on" - Army on left, Navy on right.

WHY DO WE LOVE BACON? Some of you know that I'm a big fan of Simon Sinek and his communicaitons philosophy of "Start With Why". If you don't know Simon or heard of this approach, I encourage you to watch his TED talk. VERY POWERFUL stuff. In the same vein, ever wonder WHY you love bacon so much? This article tells you why.  A brief excerpt below. I wish I knew what the "volitile organic compounds" are. Maybe I should have paid more attention in Organic Chemistry class:
"When bacon is heated, fats melt and sugar and amino acids have a very unique chemical reaction..."This specific reaction releases a medley of around 150 volatile organic compounds from the bacon which float through the air and create the amazing smell, ultimately stimulating your mouthwatering response."
The article ends with the age old adage, "As with all things tasty, moderation is the key." Nonsense. My Navy Seal friends tell me "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing." Plus, bacon has GOOD fats; just read this.

HUFFINGTON POST LOVES BACON and one of these days I'll have to chronicle how many times they've written about it. In fact, I just did a Google search with the terms "Huffington Post" +bacon, and came up with About 1,070,000 results 
This week, they blog that the best way to make bacon is to bake it!  NOT. There's probably no bad way to make bacon. But I'm not in agreement with this article.

THE LAKE BLUFF, ILLINOIS PARADE was incredible - their 106th annual. At least four solid marching bands, schools, politicians and everything you could ask for. Two hours. And drinks at my favorite local restaurant, Inovasi. Proprieter John (left) and hostess (and much more) Abby (right) worked the bar with two of their friends, and a great time was had by all. I've written about Inovasi before. Great place, food, ambience, service - go there!

ATTENDED THE AWESOME LAKE FOREST FIREWORKS LAST NIGHT to celebrate our nation's independence. Had all five of my children and one boyfriend with us, it was great!

Jack, Cait, Sam, Jill, Jen, and Matt