Chicken Tagine (Recipe)
Courtesy of Bacon Nation
Bacon Swizzle Sticks (Recipe)
Courtesy of Bacon Nation
Bacon Nation features more than 120 recipes, including breakfasts, appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes, breads, and even desserts. “We covered traditional recipes, like wrapping shrimp in bacon, but we always tried to give it a little twist,” Rama says. “Then, there are some things you would have never considered adding bacon to.”
Rama spent a few years perfecting all of the recipes. One of her most interesting discoveries was what bacon can do for soups and stocks. “If you add a couple of strips of bacon, and maybe an onion, to canned chicken broth, what you get is a very creamy, sort of milky-flavored broth that is terrific as a base for soups, as well as for poaching fish. That really, really surprised me. I thought, ‘Wow, this is quite useful.’ ”
Rama borrows another cooking tip, this one from the French: using slab bacon, also called lardons, for soups and stews. When thrown in, lardons “release their fats and flavors slowly as the dish stews,” says Rama, noting that Julia Child had a very famous recipe for beef bourguignon using lardons. So why does bacon work so well with practically everything? “It’s because of the diverse flavors,” says Rama. “It’s both sweet and salty, and it’s smoky, too. Then you have the element of umami — that savory taste that lingers on the tongue. When you eat a strip of bacon, that’s what you get — something that lasts on your palate. When you take all these elements — and sometimes you get a crunch, too — it’s just such an ingenious food.”
But, you ask, what about that pesky fat issue? “Well,” says Rama, “Peter and I are pretty thin and health-minded. We wanted to create something where you wouldn’t have to feel guilty about using bacon. I was always careful to try to get the maximum amount of flavor with the minimum amount of fat. That is very, very doable.”
So did Rama discover anything that does not go well with bacon? “Yes, I made a bacon pecan pie — but the bacon just didn’t do anything for it. But that’s it; there is really not a whole lot that doesn’t work.”
Bacon for the big game?
The Super Bowl takes place on February 2. If you’re not lucky enough to have tickets to the game (held right over the border in New Jersey for the first time ever), you’ll can console yourself by serving something made with bacon: Look for a great recipe from Bacon Nation in next month’s issue. No matter who you’re rooting for, you can count on the fact that everyone will want to be a part of Team Bacon.