Thursday, January 28, 2010

Boiling with Bacon

Get a pound of streaky bacon, cut square if possible, scrape and wash clean, put on in plenty of water, with a young onion, a little thyme and parsley, bring to a quick boil, throw in cold water, skim the pot clean, then let stand simmering for two to three hours. Add to it either greens—mustard, turnip, or dandelion or field salad, well washed and picked, let cook till very tender, then skim out, drain in a colander, lay in a hot dish with the square of bacon on top. Here is the foundation of a hearty and wholesome meal. The bacon by long boiling is in a measure emulsified, and calculated to nourish the most delicate stomach rather than to upset it. Serve two thin slices of it with each helping of greens. You should have plenty of Cayenne vinegar, very hot and sharp, hot corn bread, and cider or beer, to go along with it.

String beans, known to the south country as snaps, never come fully to their own, unless thus cooked with bacon. Even pork does not answer, though that is far and away better than boiling and buttering or flooding with milk sauces. It is the same with cabbage. Wash well, halve or quarter, boil until very tender, drain and serve. Better cook as many as the pot will hold and the bacon season, since fried cabbage, which is chopped fine, and tossed in bacon fat with a seasoning of pepper, salt and vinegar, helps out wonderfully for either breakfast, luncheon or supper. Never throw away proper pot-liquor—it is a good and cheap substitute for soup on cold days. Heat, and drop into it crisp bread-crusts—if they are corn bread crusts made very brown, all the better. Pioneer folk throve on pot-liquor to such an extent they had a saying that it was sinful to have too much—pot-liquor and buttermilk at the same meal.


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