March 25, 2013
« lollipops » de lard
This bacon thing has gotten out of hand. Don’t get me wrong. I love good bacon. It’s just that it seems to be showing up in places other than sitting next to my eggs or resting between some crispy lettuce and ripe tomato. Whether in ice cream, a cocktail, muffins, or a s’more, it seems that bacon, or at least its flavor, is showing up just about anywhere and everywhere. Not it’s making an appearance on this blog. (There was an earlier posting
about pork belly, the cut bacon is made from.)
We didn’t eat a lot of bacon when I was growing up—not because we were Jewish, which we were, but because my mother didn’t like it. It was also relatively expensive. When we did have it, it was served on buttered, untoasted, white, sandwich bread. Properly engineered and assembled, each sandwich only required two slices of bacon. I think even at this low density, it was still more expensive than bologna.
By the time I was in college and living on my own, I still didn’t eat much bacon. It was outside my budget. When I did purchase bacon, I was always disappointed when I opened a package and found that the contents were not as lean as it appeared in its cardboard wrapping.
I usually don’t order bacon in restaurants. I like my bacon barely cooked with most of its fat still intact. Since the bacon is usually cooked ahead, this is harder to get in a restaurant than a rare hamburger.
When I started going to France in the mid‑1990s, I was pleasantly surprised to find bacon, in the form of lardons,
in many dishes. In 2000, when I started to work in Amondans,
I found out that bacon we used was fabricated at the restaurant. Bacon in France is available in both smoked and un‑smoked forms. Both are cured. For the lazy French cook, both types are readily available at the local hypermarché
in both lardons
(cross‑cut strips) and diced. I also learned in Amondans that bacon was fairly simple to produce in my home kitchen
since I had access to the raw material, space in my refrigerator for curing, and a smoker out back on the deck.
In the last couple of years, I’ve been offered all sort of bacon products to taste, and for the most part, most have not been to my liking. Then in November of 2010, I was offered a cocktail prepared with bacon syrup. I opted for the liquor unadulterated and a separate sip of the syrup. Although the syrup didn’t contain any bacon—it’s a simple syrup with natural and artificial flavors added along with some antioxidants—it definitely reminded my tongue of bacon. After that experience, it only took a full two years for me to go out and buy a bottle.
Ever since I’ve started to make meringues,
I’ve had in my mind a bacon meringue concept, but I couldn’t just load my standard meringues with bacon syrup because they would be too sweet to use as an amuse‑bouche.
I saw a recipe for rochers,
a French cookie similar to coconut macaroons. I thought about making a similar item, substituting bacon bits for shredded coconut. In the end, I produced something similar to both, but still quite different.
I won’t bore you with all the variations I tried, but along the way there was a number of outright failures and a few near misses. In the end, I never was able to achieve either the classic meringue shape that would dry properly or something that resembled the coconut macaroon. Although not the original goal, the “lollipops” that evolved proved to be a suitable alternative.
I was able to get the recipe to work both with and without the xanthan gum. Without it, the egg whites whip up much fuller, but they also collapse more during the drying process. The gum makes for a much different looking, but in the end, a more stable, sticky foam.
60 ml (1⁄4 c)
Torani‑brand bacon‑flavored syrup
30 g (about 1)
extra‑large egg white
1. Cut the bacon crosswise into thin strips. Grind the strips through the coarse plate of a hand‑cranked meat grinder. Grind the meat again through a fine plate.
2. Place the finely ground bacon in a nonstick frying pan over high heat, and cook it until the bacon is sufficiently brown. Remember that the bcaon will darken further after it is removed from the pan. Drain the cooked bacon on absorbent paper. Set aside.
3. Place the syrup in a small saucepan over high heat. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over the syrup, and stir to dissolve.
4. While the syrup is heating, place the egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Turn it on to high speed.
5. When the syrup is boiling and the whites are opaque, slowly drizzle the syrup into the whites while the mixer is still running. Continue whisking until a nice, firm meringue is formed.
6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the drained bacon bits into the meringue.
7. Set your oven to 95 °C (205 °F). Prepare two quarter‑size baking sheets with silicone‑rubber liners.
8. Divide the egg‑white mixtures between the two baking sheets. Using a small offset spatula, spread the meringues into even, rectangular layers. Allow a 2 to 3 cm (3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in) border between each meringue and the rim of each baking sheet.
9. Place the baking sheets side‑by‑side in your oven. Dry the meringues for a couple of hours until they are somewhat firm, but still flexible, and sticky.
10. Remove the liners from the baking sheets so the meringue cools faster. Cut each panel of meringues, while still on its liner, crosswise, into 21⁄2‑cm (1‑in) wide strips. Roll each strip, with the surface that was in contact with the liner on the inside, into tight coils.
11. If serving right away, insert a cardboard stick into each coil and serve. Otherwise, refrigerate the meringues, and impale them on a stick just before serving.
Yield: 12 to 16 servings.