17 August 2013

Weekend Cooking: Bacon Nation by Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama

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Bacon Nation by Peter Kaminsky and Marie RamaWho doesn't love bacon? Doesn't it seem to make just about everything taste better? Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama agree, and they've shared their love in their new cookbook, Bacon Nation.

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)
Pretty much every dish is the book sounds good to me. Thanks to Kaminsky and Rama, I'm now going to make sure there's bacon in my freezer at all times. Our generally healthful diet can absolutely include a slice of bacon every now and then, and really, who can resist a little saltly, crunchy goodness to spark up a salad or soup?

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
  • Salt
  • 12 ounces linguine or other long, thin pasta
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring 4 to 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pasta or soup pot.

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.

Workman, 2013
ISBN-13: 9780761165828
Rating: B+
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright 2013 cbl for www.BethFishReads.com


Marg 8/17/13, 6:20 AM  

I don't know about bacon in desserts but I certainly could see this pasta recipe being a bit hit in our house!

rhapsodyinbooks 8/17/13, 6:26 AM  

I agree - Workman has the most beautiful cookbooks ever! (and other books - great design department!)

Tina 8/17/13, 6:28 AM  

Save me a place at the table for this pasta dish! We are big fans of bacon.
Many years ago I opted for a vegetarian diet and stayed with it for years. Recently a former boss saw a post I had where I stuffed bacon under the chicken breast for a bird I roasted and he said, "I remember when you only ate lettuce, now you are stuffing meat with meat!"

Bacon: Wonderful topic for a book!

Sandy Nawrot 8/17/13, 6:37 AM  

Oh I have no issues with bacon! It doesn't take much to really pack a punch of flavor in a recipe. Serendipitously, my recipe this week was one that I felt NEEDED a slice or two of bacon in it, so I added it. Good timing!

Unknown 8/17/13, 8:50 AM  

This cookbook sounds great, and I think I'll be trying the recipe you've shared very soon!

bermudaonion 8/17/13, 10:36 AM  

My guys would go crazy for that cookbook. We had people over last weekend and I made 2 different deviled egg recipes - 1 had bacon on the top, and, of course, those eggs were devoured immediately. I had a few of the non-bacon ones left at the end of the evening.

Christine 8/17/13, 2:20 PM  

We love bacon in my house, too! Our favorite bacon is the applewood smoked bacon from trader joe's. It's uncured--meaning no added nitrates or other chemical preservatives. I almost always have bacon in the fridge or freezer so I'm definitely keeping my eye out for this cookbook for some new recipe ideas.

Beth Hoffman 8/17/13, 3:01 PM  

I simply MUST get this cookbook for my husband!

Carole 8/17/13, 4:17 PM  

Yum, Bacon. A NZ speciality is bacon and egg pie! I may make one today!

Louise 8/17/13, 9:40 PM  

I like bacon too, but wouldn't want it every day. I tried chocolate bacon in America a couple of years ago- and found it disgusting, not for me at all. The pasta and cauliflower dishes sound good though.

(Diane) bookchickdi 8/18/13, 10:05 AM  

I think I need this cookbook, and I am making that pasta dish this week.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 8/18/13, 1:40 PM  

Hello once again, it has been awhile since I posted anything on this fun linky. Have a great day and thanks for hosting.

Gilion at Rose City Reader 8/18/13, 5:38 PM  

I hope Santa brings this to me for Christmas. Since to know me is to know my love of bacon, I may get more than one copy!

Debbie 8/18/13, 6:19 PM  

I posted about the same cookbook--how weird is that? It's a good one tho.

Daryl 8/19/13, 8:48 AM  

now i am sorry i didnt mention/include the new book i was reading The School of Essential Ingredients .. a charming read that got me rather fa-klempt!

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