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Archive for September, 2010

I’m not proud of this.

In my defense, let me just say that I never would have done this of my own accord.  Karma, however, had other ideas:  No sooner had I written about the absurdities of bacon-infused vodka than a friend asked if I could prepare a batch of bacon-infused bourbon for a weekend trip we were planning to take with some college buddies.  The moral, it turns out, is never to say never.

I could continue my defense by pointing out that bacon actually plays very well with the vanilla and maple notes of bourbon, but I would just be rationalizing at that point.  The truth is that I took this request as a challenge and responded to it thus:

“Eww.  <pause>  That’s really gross.  <pause>  OK, let’s do it.”

serves a dozen college buddies

  • 1 lb. really good bacon
  • 1 750-ml bottle of really bad bourbon

Place the bacon on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.  Place the bacon in the oven and turn the heat to 400 degrees.  (If you start the bacon in a cold oven, it stays flat.  I don’t know why this is, but this is one case where you don’t want to preheat the oven.)  Bake, flipping the bacon over occasionally, until the bacon is brown and crisp on the edges and most of the fat has rendered, about 20 minutes.  Reserve the bacon for another use (such as breakfast).

Strain all of the rendered bacon fat through a sieve into a large wide-mouthed jar that can hold at least a quart of liquid.  Pour all of the bourbon into the jar.  Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds.  Let the bacon fat-bourbon mixture sit at room temperature for a few hours; every once in a while, give the jar a good shake.  Refrigerate the jar overnight.

The next day, use a spoon to remove any solidified fat from the top of the bourbon.  Put a funnel in the top of the empty bourbon bottle.  Put a coffee filter inside of a sieve and put the sieve in the funnel.  Slowly pour the baconourbon into the sieve, letting the filter strain out all of the fat.  You should end up with a bottle full of thoroughly de-greased liquor.

At this point, you can drink the baconourbon, but you may find (as we did) that it’s just not bacon-y enough:  Our batch tasted smoky with a faint meatiness that was familiar but not really recognizable as bacon.  In other words, we had basically made something that tasted like cheap Scotch.  We decided to hit the baconourbon with another round of bacon a week later (we wanted to wait for Sunday brunch, after all).  The second infusion of bacon fat made the bourbon profoundly, but not unpleasantly, bacon-y.

What to do with this stuff, then, besides take it to frat parties or make your friends drink it on a dare?  The mastermind behind this whole concoction, my friend, Dr. Mixologist, whipped up a batch of a surprisingly balanced and quaffable cocktail that he likes to call “Part of This Complete Breakfast”.  His recipe follows:

  • ~1/3 oz maple syrup
  • ~1/3 oz lemon juice
  • 2.5 oz bacon bourbon
  • 1.5 oz apple juice
  • 1 egg white
  • splash soda (helps create a nice foam on top)

Dr. Mixologist continues, “What I do is first combine the lemon and maple syrup with the bourbon to both dissolve the maple syrup and so I can test the sweet/sour balance, then add the rest of the ingredients with plenty of ice in a shaker and shake the hell out of it to fully mix the egg.  Finally strain over ice into a coupe glass and serve.”

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It’s September already??  Where has the summer gone?

To compensate for my prolonged absence from The Militant Carnivore, let me present a recipe for some pretty darn good cornbread.  It’s adapted from a recipe on Epicurious for green onion-jalapeño cornbread, a batch of which I recently sampled at a Southern food party.  I am greatly indebted to my friend both for bringing the cornbread and for pointing me to the recipe, because this is just fantastic.

While purists may complain, cornbread is good, but cornbread with stuff in it is even better.  Not being from a cornbread-centric region of the country, I am unfettered from any traditions dictating that cornbread should be unadulterated by any “mix-ins”, or that I should use white cornmeal only, or that bacon grease is the fat of choice for true cornbread.  (I do believe, though, that a cast-iron skillet is the only appropriate vessel for making cornbread—and for making many other things, too.)  When my most recent hankering for cornbread struck, I didn’t have any green onions or jalapeños on hand (or anything else, really—I suppose I should go grocery shopping), but I did have a half-finished jar of chipotles en adobo just miring on the door of the fridge.

I’ve come late to the chipotle game.  I only recently started cooking with them and have been pleasantly surprised by how much flavor can be delivered by a pantry item.  With their bewitching combination of smoke and red pepper, chipotles offer a lot of the same pleasure as pimentón, Spanish smoked paprika.  (I should probably stop describing pimentón that way:  After all, I could just as sensibly call paprika “Hungarian unsmoked pimentón“.)  The major difference (besides the fact that chipotles are HOT!) is that pimentón peppers are, of course, ground into a powder, whereas chipotles are canned or jarred in adobo, a vinegary tomato sauce.  That means you can chop up the chipotles and incorporate them into dishes as you would fresh peppers; you can also use the adobo as an ingredient as well.

makes 8 pieces of cornbread, so serves (ahem) 4

  • 3/4 c flour
  • 3/4 c cornmeal
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c (4 T) butter
  • 2 large (or 3 small) eggs
  • 1 T lemon juice and/or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 c milk
  • 1 c sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 c chipotles en adobo, roughly chopped, adobo reserved for another use

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together the first six ingredients (those would be the dry ingredients) in a large mixing bowl.

Place a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Slowly melt the butter in the skillet, taking care not to burn it.

Add the eggs to a medium mixing bowl; stir in the lemon juice and the milk.  (You could also omit the lemon juice and substitute buttermilk for the milk.)  When the butter is melted, swirl the skillet so that the melted butter coats its sides, and then pour the butter, whisking all the while, into the egg-milk mixture.  Put the skillet back on the burner and turn the heat up to medium.

Pour the egg-milk-butter mixture over the dry ingredients; use a large spoon to combine.  Don’t overstir:  Just mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the liquid.  Stir in the grated cheddar and the chopped chipotles.

Pour the batter into the preheated, buttered skillet.  Turn the heat off under the skillet.

Put the skillet in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes.  When a skewer or knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean, it’s done.

Cut into eighths and serve with a drizzle of honey, or alongside a big bowl of black beans and a few Mexican beers.

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