British Back-Bacon: Two Ways
So, who are these guys and why are there a bunch of Brits hanging around our farmers markets? Because they got the good stuff. And I'm apparently not the first person to find them. Weird. Some of Chicago's favorite pubs likeGood to know that some of my favorite pubs serve fresh and local meats!
I'm always slightly skeptical when it comes to meat, because some of it is just scary. But when you're standing at the market, talking to the guy who is responsible for making that little slice of bacon-y delight, you know you're getting something good. Nick Spencer, the owner of Spencer's, gets his meat through a purveyor in Fulton Market, and uses Yorkshire hogs (the county in England where Nick is from). I'll tell ya, makes for some tasty treats.
Currently Nick's company only offers bangers and back-bacon, but will soon be offering black and white pudding, and a few more products that are in the works. When I asked Nick if he was planning on opening his own "pub", he mentioned that there's something in the works, but it's not necessarily a pub. So all you Chicagoans out there, keep your eyes open for Nick to do something cool in the near future.
Here are a couple of my recipes for trying out British back-bacon. For more authentic recipes, visit Spencer's website for details.
7 Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 shallot (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbsp capers
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs thyme (leaves only)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 8oz. box quinoa pasta shells (or your favorite pasta, it's all I had left in my pantry)
1/4 cup pasta water
Piave or Parmesan cheese to top (grated)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
As you prep the tomatoes, you can also toast your pine nuts. Place the pine nuts in a saute pan and heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Don't let the nuts burn! They should just start to become fragrant and slightly brown.
In a large saute pan, heat a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the back-bacon and cook for about 6 minutes, or until it has browned up a bit. Remove the bacon, but leave the bacon grease in the pan. Cut the bacon into bite sized pieces when cooled.
Add some more olive oil to the pan, and lower the heat to medium. Add the shallots and cook for 4 minutes. Add the garlic, capers, white wine, crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to the pan. Let cook for about 5 minutes, until simmering slightly. Add the tomatoes, and mash up a bit with a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes. Don't break up too much, because you want the tomatoes to be chunky. Add the bacon, pine nuts, and thyme. Add some salt and pepper, and let cook for about 15 minutes.
I am always in the mood for pizza, but making a dough from scratch usually takes several hours. Not this recipe. This is quick and super easy. It only takes about 15 minutes for the dough to rise, and another 15 to cook. Give it a shot.
For the Pizza Dough:
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup warm water
1 packet active yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
For the pizza dough, dissolve the yeast and sugar into the warm water in a small bowl or measuring glass. Let sit for 5 minutes to foam up a bit. While yeast is sitting, combine salt and flour in a large bowl. Pour the water and yeast into the bowl with flour and work together with hands. Once combined, move to a floured surface and knead until dough forms a smooth ball. If dough is too dry, wet hands with cool water. If too wet, keep adding flour. Place dough in a clean dry bowl, covered by a wet kitchen towel. Let sit for 15-20 minutes in a warm place.
For the Toppings:
3 slices back-bacon
1 1/2 cups smoked Gouda (grated)
1 cup cilantro (loosely packed, no stems)
1/2 cup honey habanero aioli
2 tbsp bacon grease
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
While dough is rising, prep the other ingredients. Start by frying up the back-bacon. Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add a dash of olive oil (to make sure there is enough grease for the dough later). Fry the bacon for 5 minutes, turning once. Remove bacon and cut up into little pieces. Don't discard the bacon grease! Leave it in the pan to coat the pizza crust later.
Heat grill or grill pan over high heat. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dough should rise fairly quickly and be ready after 20 minutes. On a floured surface, knead the whole piece of dough out. Brush one side of the dough with the leftover bacon grease and throw it on the grill. Brush the other side with bacon grease, and season with salt and pepper.
Cook both sides for 3 minutes and remove onto a cutting board or counter. Spread a layer of honey habanero aioli over the crust. Next add the cilantro and the cheese. Add the pieces of bacon to the top.
Place the pizza back on the grill for 5 minutes. Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake for 5 minutes to make sure the cheese gets nice and melty, or put it under a broiler for 2 minutes for crispier cheese. Both variations are delicious.