• Tommy Centola

Bacon makes everything better

I have seen it on a few signs that say bacon makes everything better. I don’t know if it would work with everything, but I know I like to use it as much as possible. Bacon adds flavor and texture to many dishes. Today, I want to share with you three recipes that uses this prized protein: Bacon Fried Cabbage, Bacon Marmalade and Bacon Jam. While none of these dishes will be the star of the plate, they will all add to your dining enjoyment. Let’s head to the kitchen.

The combination of cabbage and bacon can be found in many recipes. While many would think that the bacon is the key to this dish, it’s not. What makes this dish is the rendered bacon fat. By frying the cabbage in the bacon fat, it gives the cabbage a whole new flavor.

Bacon Fried Cabbage

6 sliced bacon

1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced

1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons cane vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Creole seasoning to taste

Fry bacon until crispy in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove the bacon and set aside, draining on paper towels. To the drippings in the pan, add the cabbage and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar and Creole seasoning and cook for an additional 10 to 12 minutes. Crumble the reserved bacon over the cabbage and serve.

The next two recipes are a variation on the same theme. The Bacon Marmalade makes a great addition to a plate as an edible garnish. The tomatoes are the big difference between the two recipes. They cut down on the sweetness.

Bacon Marmalade

1/2 pound bacon

2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup onion, diced

Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Place bacon on prepared pan. Bake until crispy, 7 to 9 minutes over side. Let drain on paper towels.

In a small saucepan, heat tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and onion over medium heat. Cook until liquid evaporates. Crumble bacon, and stir into marmalade; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve or up to 3 weeks.

There are many uses for Bacon Jam. You can use it as a topping for a hamburger. You can mix it with ground meat and cheese for a Bacon Cheeseburger Egg Roll. I developed this recipe as a final component of a dish to be used in a cooking competition. I just haven’t had the chance to use it.

Bacon Jam

1 pound center-cut bacon, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 medium onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon maple flavoring

1/4 cup cane syrup

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves

In a heavy bottomed skillet over high heat, cook bacon until it begins to brown. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Reduce heat to medium and sauté onions until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes. Add bacon and all remaining ingredients, Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove the browned bacon bits. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until mixture resembles a loose jam, about 25 minutes. Place in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix the jam.

When making a recipe with bacon, I always use the center cut bacon. It has a better meat to fat ratio. Just remember this little tip. Don’t throw out the rendered fat when you are finished cooking. Save it in a container and refrigerate it. Use it to cook anything that requires vegetable oil. The flavor that results will bring your dishes to a new level.

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