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Now, I know what you're thinking: "Bacon is fatty and salty and so I rarely eat it. Do I really need a whole cookbook devoted to bacon?" Well, yes, you do. And here's why. Kaminsky and Rama are not of the school that says more is better. They're after that perfect balance in which the bacony goodness enhances a dish without necessarily being center stage.
In fact, Bacon Nation doesn't suggest that you eat a pound of bacon three times a day. Instead, the authors have done something different. Although bacon is featured in all 125 recipes, almost every one calls for just about a single slice per serving, and often less. Thus you can eat well and have your bacon too when you're eating it for flavor and crunch.
Workman Publishing's designers never let me down when it comes to cookbooks, and I love Bacon Nation's clean fonts and appealing colors. I especially like the little touches, such as notes and tips printed against a butcher paper–like background and the colorful numbers in the directions.
Besides the expected chapter divisions (appetizers to desserts), Bacon Nation includes the nitty-gritty of all things bacon: how to buy it, how to store it, how to cook it, and what to do with the drained fat. The authors have even included a section aimed at inspiring you to create your own bacon-licious dishes. Cooks who like to try the best of the best will be pleased to find a list of the authors' favorite brands of bacon, complete with mail-order information.
The recipes range from extremely classic (spinach salad) to more common (bacon-wrapped asparagus) to more surprising (bacon s'mores). True meat-lovers will like the meat, poultry, and fish chapters; others may be more drawn to the soups, salads, pastas, veggies, and appetizers. Whichever way you like your bacon, you'll be happy to know that the recipes call for common ingredients and the directions are straightforward and easy to follow.
Most home cooks will find success with Bacon Nation. The recipes don't require fancy equipment or tricky techniques. The recipe introductions contain good information about the origins of the dish as well as tips about the ingredients and hints for success.
Here are some of the dishes in Bacon Nation (plus the amount of bacon per serving):
- Butternut squash soup (5 slices of bacon for 6 servings)
- Bacon and egg salad (3 slices of bacon for 3 sandwiches)
- Chicken Marsala (6 slices of bacon for 4 servings)
- Bacon shrimp risotto (3 slices of bacon for 3 serving)
- Bacon-roasted cauliflower (2-3 slices of bacon for 4 servings)
- French toast bread pudding (6 slices of bacon for 8 servings)
Here's a yummy dish that's good all year round. I add hot red pepper flakes, but that's just me.
Pasta Alla Gricia
Serves 6 as appetizer; 3 as a main dish
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
- 5 slices of bacon, diced
- 12 ounces linguine or other long, thin pasta
- 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus extra for serving
- Freshly ground black pepper
2. While waiting for the water to boil, heat the olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned and most of the fat is rendered, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often and adjusting the heat as necessary. Turn off the heat and set the skillet aside.
3. Salt the boiling water. Add the linguine, stir to separate the strands, and cook until al dente, following the package instructions. Set aside about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the linguini and return it to the cooking pot.
4. Add the bacon with its fat to the drained linguini and stir in the cheese. If the pasta mixture seems too dry add a little of the pasta cooking water or a little more olive oil. Season the linguine with plenty of pepper and serve, passing the extra cheese.
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright 2013 cbl for www.BethFishReads.com