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Archive for the ‘Beverages’ Category

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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Ginger “Tea”

I love thinking about the vagaries of the English language, how it occasionally has gaps in it, leaving us unable to express seemingly uncomplicated concepts with ease and eloquence.  For example, how do you address a complete (male) stranger on the street?  Should you call him “Sir”?  How about “Mister”?  “Bub”?  “Jack”?  The first choice sounds obsequious, the second one childish, the last two best reserved for starting a brawl at your local sports bar or soccer pitch.

Or, to take another way that English makes our lives needlessly complicated, why do our third person pronominal and adjectival forms insist upon gender distinctions?  (I love—love—writing sentences like that.)  Take a sentence like this:  “Everybody should share The Militant Carnivore Cooks For His Vegetarian Wife with his friends.”  His friends?  How glaringly sexist.  How about “his/her” friends?  Wait, I think I saw that in Webster’s under “cumbersome” and “awkward”.

I’ll state it here in print: Within my lifetime, the use of the plural form “their” to refer to a singular indefinite antecedent (as in “A Militant Carnivore should keep their blog focused on cooking, not grammar”) will be accepted standard English.

So it is with ginger “tea”.  (Thank God, I hear you say, we’ve left the grammar behind and are back to the cooking.)   This ginger “tea” does not contain any part of the Camellia sinensis plant and so is technically not “tea” at all.  What to call it then?  A “tisane”?  An “infusion”?  Malarkey, I say.  Why does English have no word that doesn’t sound ridiculous to describe a perfectly simple and absolutely delicious beverage?

Fortunately, each of my readers may choose what to call *their* hot ginger beverage.  (See?  It’s going to catch on.  You heard it here first.)  Whatever you call it, it’s just what you need during flu, cold-and-flu, allergy, or cold-flu-and-allergy season.  Or if you happen to really like ginger.

  • 1 large piece of ginger
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 c honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced

Place 4 c of water in a saucepan over high heat.  Peel the ginger as well as you can (don’t sweat it too much if you don’t get all the peel off), then cut it into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Add the ginger slices and the peppercorns to the water.  Once the water comes to a boil, adjust the heat so it maintains a leisurely boil for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the honey, then add the lemon slices.  Cook for 1 minute, then ladle the “tea” through a strainer into a mug.  (If you’re not serving all of the “tea” at once, let the ginger, peppercorns and lemon continue to steep; you can add more hot water and honey as needed.)  Serve hot.

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Red Heering

So dinner’s on the stove.  While it cooks, you’ve got some nuts and you’ve got some olives to nibble on.  Now, what to wash them down with?

As I’ve noted that it has been noted, the last decade was a good one for cocktails.  No more -tinis, no more froo-froo nonsense, just an honest appreciation for cocktails as culinary creations, as dependent on quality ingredients, balance, proportion and care as anything else that comes out of a kitchen.  Needless to say, the artisanal cocktail movement has gotten out of hand in some respects, but you don’t need to wear arm garters to make a great drink.

One of my favorite pre-dinner quaffs is the Red Hook, a variation on a Manhattan which gets its name from the cherry liqueur (maraschino) that sets it apart from the standard Manhattan.  Unfortunately, when I tried to purchase some Luxardo Maraschino at the only state-run liquor store in town which seems to carry it, the arm-garter crowd had beaten me to the punch and cleared out the entire shelf.  Undeterred, I decided to purchase some Cherry Heering instead.  Cherry Heering is a liqueur which is also popular in cocktails; unlike maraschino, which is clear, Heering is very dark, syrupy and perhaps a little too reminiscent of cherry Robitussin for some people’s taste.  This being Seattle, however, where everybody is crazy for all things Scandinavian (there is actually a Leif Erikson Hall here), I figured getting a bottle of the Danish-made Heering would qualify as what the anthropologists call “going native”.

The Heering adds quite a bit of heft to this cocktail, especially when combined with a bracingly astringent vermouth like Punt e Mes, so I had to scale back the proportions of liqueur and vermouth to keep them in balance with the rye.  To my taste, this cocktail hits the most important note for an aperitif:  It balances sweetness with a pronounced bitterness that stimulates the palate and whets the appetite.

The hour before dinner may have never been a better time to drink.

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey (especially Rittenhouse Rye, if ever they decide to sell it in the state of Washington; until then, Old Overholt will have to do)
  • 1/4 oz. red vermouth, such as Punt e Mes
  • 1/4 oz. Cherry Heering

Mix all of the ingredients.  Pour into a glass with two ice cubes.  Top with club soda if desired.  Serve with something to nibble on.

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