Bacon Chronicles: Everything tastes better with bacon

by foodhoe on May 2, 2010

It’s true that the smallest bits of bacon can add worlds of glamor to a dish.  It blends in and augments sauces, soups and salad, and even beverages; and I’m not talking about gruesome extravaganzas like the bacon explosion.   I love the smoky aroma and variety of textures contained within each deliciously sinful strip of cured pork belly.  Crispy burnt edges, chewy ribbons of meat entwined with luscious velvety bands of fat that melt in your mouth…

Mariposa Kitchen offers the class Everything Tastes Better with Bacon which has been constantly sold out, so last weekend JT organized a private cooking class for a small group of us. We met at Mariposa Kitchen, which is located in the beautiful marina district in SF, where we learned to make the following menu:

Bacon, Cheddar And Chive Gougeres


Butter Lettuce Salad with Peppered Bacon, D’Anjou Pears
and Gorgonzola Vinaigrette


Pan Seared Sea Scallops over Haricots Vert with Brown Sugar Bacon Lardons, Toasted Hazelnuts and Apple Cider Reduction


Petite Filets Wrapped in Bacon with Herb Butter

Bacon, Sweet Onion, Goat Cheese and Potato Galettes

Maple-Bacon Ice Cream with Bacon Brittle

That’s quite a lineup… so for the next three hours, we worked under the tutelage of Caroline Fey, who supervised us in the most friendly manner.  We were similar to anxious children who needed frequent direction and praise…

When we walked into the building, we all inhaled deeply and sighed…. the smell of bacon was in the air because Caroline had been busy prepping everything for our class.  A pile o’ bacon fried to that perfect point where the thin parts are brittle and crisp and the thick meaty parts are deliciously chewy.

Pepper bacon was broken up into pieces to go into the salad

thick pieces of lardons cooking in the pan

And so we began working in teams of two or three on the seven dishes.  Daisy tackled Maple and Brown Sugar Ice Cream, which combines heavy cream, whole milk, brown sugar, maple syrup, and egg yolks to form a rich custard after heating on the stove

Once it cooks to the proper consistency, it is strained into a bowl to rest over an ice bath, then into the freezer to chill until it’s cold.

Once cooled, it is poured into the ice cream maker for whirling around until it thickens up to the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

It’s important that the consistency is thick enough so that the bacon bits don’t settle at the bottom.  She folded in a generous bowlful of finely chopped crispy bits o’bacon to the mixture and then into the freezer to firm up.

It was still a bit soft but scoopable and was served with delicious shards of bacon brittle, which was dark, crunchy and salty, almost bitter.  I might like this with an additional drizzle of maple syrup or something sweet to balance out the salt…but I have a sweet tooth when it comes to desserts.  Click here for the recipe.

Here’s the spread for the potato galette team.

The mandoline is essential for thinly sliced taters

Layers of the artistically arranged potatoes with thin slices of onion, pieces of bacon, goat chese and parmigiano reggiano, fresh thyme, salt and black pepper

Great care was taken in the placement of each potato slice

Each side was cooked in the nonstick pan to achieve a delectably crispy crust

This was the most impressive dish of the meal.  We all swooned over how good this dish was.  I posted the recipe here.

JT and I tackled the Cheddar Cheese, Chive and Bacon Gougeres, neither of us had made anything like it before, but it was surprisingly non-traumatic.  Good thing JT was such a hard worker, because I was off flitting about trying to take pictures. The batter cooked very quickly in the pan and was then tossed into the stand mixture.

The kitchenaid professional stand mixer has a crank that lifts up the mixing bowl.  Way cooler than my frumpy artisan mixer… now I have mixer envy but since I have only used it like three times in five years, I don’t think I can justify an upgrade.   Anyways, trying to get over my fear of power tools, this made the task a breeze…

The funny thing is that both of us have taken cake decorating classes at Sugar and Spice (long ago when it was still on Balboa), so had some experience with using a pastry bag. We quickly piped two trays of cheesy blobs onto parchment paper lined trays, which were put into the preheated oven.

The aroma of baking cheesy chive bread filled the kitchen.

Delicious and eggy poufs, Caroline said that this batter (choux pastry) is the same as that which is used for eclairs and cream puffs, but savory in this case…  I put the recipe here.

These thick cut slices of bacon are intentionally left underdone because they were wrapped around filet mignon and finished cooking on the grill.

like so…

Cherie seared the scallops to perfection, while Daisy kept a watchful eye on the filets

We used all of the herb butter, generous dollops on each fat filet

Daisy did a fine job, my filet was cooked just the way I like it…  and I admired the crispy browned edges of the bacon.  Click for the recipe.

The beautifully seared scallops were served on top of blanched haricot verts with toasted hazelnuts, caramelized lardons and drizzled with a tart apple cider reduction

JT and I whipped up the salad dressing by tossing everything in the blender.  It was so easy, my biggest stumbling block was figuring out how to work the salad spinner…  Get the recipe here.

Some running around ensued, but Caroline had everything under control and soon we were gathering around the table ready to enjoy our meal…

Here’s my plate, everything was delicious and very well cooked too I might add.

JT surprised us with these strange and wonderful Maggie May’s Bacon Beer Caramels (made with dogfish head 90 minute imperial ipa) that she picked up at the last Underground Market.  They were oddly floral and had the faintest hint of effervescence…

It was so much fun and the best thing is that we didn’t have to do any of the cleanup… one of the perks of paying for the privilege!  It seemed very reasonable at $70 each, we couldn’t have dined as well for the price, and we were each given an envelope with all of the recipes to take home.  We had a lovely time in Caroline’s gorgeous flat, she is a gracious host, an excellent instructor and her recipes were all delicious and approachable.

and yeah, it’s been confirmed – everything tastes better with bacon…

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark May 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Oh my gosh, this all looks incredible!

I’m going to the grocery store RIGHT NOW.

Reply

gaga May 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Oh my. Drool, drool and more drool! Does it get any better?
.-= gaga´s last blog ..Cabbage and Tomato Stir Fry =-.

Reply

Carolyn Jung May 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm

OK, how in the world does that woman look so incredibly fit and svelte with all that bacon around? Man, I definitely need to eat more bacon if I can look like that! 😉
.-= Carolyn Jung´s last blog ..Orlando: Backstage Eats at Epcot and A Restaurant Called the Ravenous Pig =-.

Reply

grace May 3, 2010 at 4:08 am

pig-lover’s heaven!
also, ‘augment’ is the PERFECT word to describe what bacon does to a dish–thanks for settling that internal battle for me. 🙂
.-= grace´s last blog ..as american as leftover turkey pot pie =-.

Reply

Emily May 3, 2010 at 6:32 am

I just want to tell you, I saw you over at tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com and wanted to tell you that I love the name of your blog. I will definitely be back over here!!!

Reply

Rosa May 3, 2010 at 11:24 am

Oh, yummy! I am a big bacon fan and love those kinds of dishes. I still have to try using bacon the sweet way…

Cheers,

Rosa

Reply

Cookie May 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I don’t usually like bacon but now I’m craving it! I cannot WAIT to make those cheesy chive bread!
.-= Cookie´s last blog ..My Mom’s Favorite Crackers =-.

Reply

Juliana May 3, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Like you I always like to use a little bit of bacon to “add” some flavor to the dishes 🙂 Your dishes look absolutely delicious…yummie!

Reply

Phyllis May 3, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Wow, that bacon class is definitely a steal at only $70! Nice job on the bacon gougeres 🙂
.-= Phyllis´s last blog ..Ramps 101 =-.

Reply

Bonnibella May 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm

WOW! what a spread, I’m emitting bacon envy over here.
.-= Bonnibella´s last blog ..Stone Crab Claws at Joe’s Seafood, Las Vegas =-.

Reply

Single Guy Ben May 4, 2010 at 11:09 am

That looks like a great feast, but one of those dinners where I would rather be the diner than the chef, only because as the chef then you know all the fat that went into making the dishes! Ha! My favorites, I think, are those yummy looking biscuits and the potato galette. Did you just eat the galette out of the skillet? I was wondering how you would transfer that and maintain the lovely pattern.
.-= Single Guy Ben´s last blog ..Extra Innings at the Oakland Coliseum =-.

Reply

Mrs. L May 4, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Sigh. Bacon. Sigh. One of the four major food groups. All those wonderful bacon photos all together. Must. Have. Bacon.

Reply

hungry dog May 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I’m dying here. Why didn’t I know about this class?! Every single thing looks gorgeous. Aren’t gougeres fun to make? I’ve done it once and have meant to do it again forever. I’m not as good with a pastry bag as you are though.
.-= hungry dog´s last blog ..Fried chicken and cole slaw, Derby-style =-.

Reply

Gastronomer May 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm

WOW! What a tasty event! Thank you for the recipes 🙂
.-= Gastronomer´s last blog ..This Little Piggy Went to El Mercat =-.

Reply

foodhoe May 6, 2010 at 7:32 pm

mark and gaga, yes it was all to incredible…
carolyn, she had the look of a runner, very lean… she did the cooking, but she didn’t join us at the table!
grace, the word augment has been sorely neglected
emily, thanks for visiting, isn’t su-lin a hoot?
rosa, you’re the baker, I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
cookie, me too, I have to try it again soon
hungry dog, I had a blast and can’t wait to try making those again.
Mrs Gastronomer, you’re welcome!
juliana, a little goes a long way
phyllis, thanks!
bonibella, I posted most of the recipes!
ben, caroline definitely was buffed, and she had a sturdy technique to first flip the galette so it browned properly on both sides, and then to remove it from the pan.
Mrs. L, yes, sigh…

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: