Jowl Bacon and Sauteed Spinach

I do love Jowl Bacon – when ordering a pig, I highly recommend you specify some Jowl Bacon for yourself. I think the pairing of the bacon and spinach is about perfect and for this recipe, I added a bit of garlic and onion for the saute and then a bit of chicken broth to give it a little bit of soup to make a nice finish.

What you need on hand:

  1. Pan to cook in – I like a stir fry pan and lid but most any medium / large pan will do.
  2. Bag of spinach – cooking spinach is the most economical, but you can use most any type.
  3. Jowl bacon or your favorite type of bacon. Smoked gives it more depth if you are into that. 🙂
  4. Salt – kosher, coarse if you have it.
  5. A few cloves of garlic or crushed garlic, whatever you have on hand
  6. An onion or so, depending on taste. A large sweet, or a regular cooking onion. Really it is about what you like.
  7. Some soup stock (1/4 cup or so) you can substitute bullion, powdered soup base with water, etc…
  8. Fire & Water + Patience and a sharp knife and cutting board.

 

Start with a stir fry pan if you have one, and if not, a large sauce pan that you can cover. Slice up a generous portion of the bacon into small pieces.

Throw the bacon into the preheated pan and fry it up on medium heat while you dice up some onion and fresh garlic to taste.  Once the bacon has reduced and is almost done, drain the grease into a jar for use later. Throw in the garlic and onion and stir it a bit while the onions caramelize a bit – this is also a good time to toss in a few pinches (or to taste) of coarse salt. I like Kosher or sea salt.

Once the onions are caramelized and looking ready to eat, toss in as much spinach as you can fit into the pan. You can see from the photo I pile it high as it wilts down when you cook it. Cover and let it steam for a few on low heat. Toss in about 1/4 or so cup of water or chicken stock when you do this to help steam the spinach. Most of the liquid will cook off but it will also help flavor the spinach. I like to use a spoon or two of the dry chicken soup base here.

As the spinach starts to cook down, start tossing it a bit to keep it cooking evenly. Once it is reduced as you see in the photos, plate (or bowl) it and enjoy!

 

Bacon, everyone’s favorite food.

20160106_175755One of the best parts of a pig is the Bacon – and this is a critical selection time on your cut list. Much like your hams, deciding on smoked or not, as well as size is a big decision and something to think about.

I go for thick cut and smoked because we enjoy the texture of the bacon and it is almost like ham slices with that smoky flavor and rich texture.

For comparison, much of the bacon you buy in the store is mostly fat and thin enough to see through in most cases. I am including photos here from tonight’s dinner to show the difference in farm bacon, cut by a butcher to request. Note the thickness of the final cooked product and also the meat to fat ratio. Not to get too technical and over the top with this, but bacon is serious business! When you order your cuts, I do suggest trying at least a portion of it thick cut – it will take longer to cook but due to the meat / fat ratio you may end up with less fat / drippings than your thinner store bacon.

20160106_180412The decision to smoke it is really a preference thing but again, I suggest you try at least a portion of your bacon that way to see what you think.

Now, what I am going to say next may be bordering on sacrilege to purists, but there are ways to cook bacon beyond the classic cast iron fry pan. We have had success in the microwave though for that, I will tell you that you do NOT need to invest in all the gadgets for microwave bacon – simply put it between layers of paper towel and zap it for around a minute or 2 for 1-3 slices. Another easy and low mess approach is in an oven at 450 – optionally to improve this one, you can drape the bacon on cookie racks over cookie sheets but that is not a requirement and I generally don’t bother if I am doing this approach.

If you are really adventurous, try grilling bacon. It is out of this world but you have to watch it carefully, keep it high and avoid the fire / flame ups. Last but not least by any means – deep frying. I worked at a deli many years ago and learned this trick – toss a few slices in the deep fryer while you fry your eggs and toast your role – heavenly if you have a fryer at your finger tips. (or you have a friend who is willing to share. I love my neighborhood)