The first sentence of “Bacon Nation” declares that it is a cookbook “by bacon lovers, for bacon lovers.” After studying this book in depth, however, it becomes apparent that there is more than the usual love affair with bacon going on here. These recipes display a lot of respect for bacon, and with that respect comes restraint. The authors have studied the nuances of bacon flavor and texture, and know when to utilize it more abundantly, and when to hold back. Co-author Marie Rama explains: “The notion that guided me early on, was our decision to really experiment with bacon as a seasoning ingredient and not to create over-the-top Internet recipes that combined copious amounts of cheddar cheese and bacon and call that a winning dish.”
This restraint is apparent in the recipe for “Halibut Poached in Bacon Broth with Baby Spinach and Creamer Potatoes.” The only bacon found in the dish is in the bacon-flavored broth. Co-author Marie Rama came up with this idea out of a desire to “find a way to make lackluster tasting chicken, fish, and beef broths taste better, and I imagined that a few strips of bacon added to these commercial broths would do that.” This poaching method subtly infuses the fish with the smoky flavor of bacon. It’ll make the person who doesn’t like fish reconsider their stance! It’s an ideal method for getting a non-fish eater to start reaping the health benefits of fish, while still getting all the smoky, meaty bacon flavor they know and love.
“Bacon Nation” defines bacon as “a true gastronomic star… that can elevate instead of dominate other foods.” This respect for bacon results in recipes that highlight the versatility of bacon and its adaptability to all dishes, both sweet and savory. “Bacon Nation” has bacon appetizers and bacon entrees. Bacon salads and bacon soups. Bacon breads, and bacon for breakfast. And of course it has plenty of bacon desserts. Chapter titles include “Meatier Meats,” “Brawnier Birds” and “Smokier Seafood.” These recipes will appeal to the traditional, everyday home cook who fears branching out into new bacon lands, and the gourmet who loves to experiment and take bacon to haute cuisine highs.
“Bacon Nation” thoughtfully takes into consideration the fact that not all cooks have the same skill set in the kitchen. The recipes are easy-to-follow and include information that will allow inexperienced cooks to achieve perfect results. Included are helpful cooking tips that at times perplex even the most experienced of home cooks. For example, the best method for achieving perfect, hard-boiled eggs, and advice on the use of dried vs. canned beans. It also includes an in-depth tutorial on how to cook bacon, methods for obtaining and storing bacon grease, and how to strain drippings.
These 125 recipes will keep you experimenting with bacon for many, happy, bacon-filled years to come. Or at least until the sequel comes out. Hey, we can dream, right? Marie Rama agrees that the bacon trend is not going away any time soon, and that cooks and chefs will continue to recognize and utilize the versatility of bacon. “Cooking with bacon, as we do in our book, using it judiciously as a seasoning ingredient to make every day and special occasion dishes taste better, is not a trend. . In fact, we feel our book establishes a new bar for using bacon in this way.” We couldn’t agree more.
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