Rosemary White Bean Soup with Smoked Bacon

Bacon makes everything better…

white bean

Rosemary White Bean Soup with Smoked Bacon

 

Yield: 4 servings

 

1 bunch curly kale

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 slices smoked bacon, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices (3/4 cup)

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

5 large garlic cloves, peeled andminced (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)

3 (5-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary, bruised with your fingers

5 sprigs fresh thyme

2 dried bay leaves

2 (16-ounce) cans white kidney beans (cannellini beans), rinsed and drained

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

 

Strip the tender leaves from the tough stems of the kale; discard the stems. Rinse the leaves, then chop roughly. You should have approximately 6 packed cups of kale.

Add the bacon and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a small pot. Place over medium-low heat and cook for approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until much of the fat has rendered off, and the bacon is just beginning to get nice and crispy.

Add the onions, stir occasionally, and continue to cook until soft and translucent, 6 to 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Using a piece of butcher’s twine, tie together the rosemary, thyme sprigs and bay leaves; toss the herbs in the pot.

Stir in the beans, kale, and stock.

Cover and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the beans are soft and the kale is cooked through.

Remove the tied herbs and discard. Add the vinegar and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional vinegar.

Serve in bowls. Shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the soup with a vegetable peeler, then top with a drizzle of olive oil and some pepper.

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Teff Polenta with Sauteed Onions, Chard and Bacon

Teff is a North African cereal grass. Being a grass, it’s gluten free. It is primarily ground into flour and, if you have ever eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant, you have probably enjoyed the spongy injera bread, which is made of teff flour. Teff can also be purchased it’s grain form – in fact, it’s the smallest grain in the world! – and can made into a polenta type dish, among other delicious uses.  Being such a fine grain, it has an almost silky texture and the taste is familiar like a mashed potato (almost uncanny) but with a little more earthiness and nuttiness.

Teff Polenta with Sauteed Onions

Teff Polenta with Sauteed Onions, Chard and Bacon

Yield: 3 to 4

 

3 cups water or vegetable stock, divided

½ cup teff grain

¼ cup sour cream

3 tablespoons, unsalted butter

½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 slices applewood smoked bacon, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices (3/4 cup)

1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced thinly

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

5 medium chard leaves, leaves stripped from stems and chopped roughly, 1 packed cup

¼ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, not pre-grated

 

For the Teff:

In a medium saucepan, bring 2½ cups water to a simmer. Add the teff and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the teff has softened and absorbed all the water, 15 to 20 minutes. (Check in frequently. You may need to add a bit more liquid as the teff cooks or to loosen it before serving.)

Once, teff is cooked. Turn off heat and stir in sour cream and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover until ready to serve.

For the Sauteed Onions, Chard and Bacon:

Add the bacon to a large sauté pan then place over medium-low heat and cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until much of the fat has rendered off and the bacon is just beginning to get nice and crispy.

Remove bacon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all of the bacon fat from the pan except 1 tablespoon, reserve the rest for another use or discard. Add the onions, thyme and ¼ teaspoon salt to the sauté pan and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the onions are lightly caramelized.

Add chard and ½ cup of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is cooked down, approximately 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To Serve:

Spoon teff into bowls. Top with sautéed vegetables and bacon. Finish with some shavings of cheddar cheese and some cracked black pepper.

Recipe Review: Week of July 1

Just a reminder of the great recipes posted on my blog last week.

Time to get shopping!

Recipe Review Week July1

 

Grilled chicken thighs with homemade barbecue sauce (top lef)

Homemade barbecue sauce (left middle)

The bacon makes everything better burger (bottom left)

Tomatillo tomato salsa (top right)

German-style potato salad (bottom right)

The Bacon Makes Everything Better Burger

If you’re gonna go for it, go for it, right? And bacon does make everything better, so why not blend it into your burger for the ultimate hickory smoked bacon burger? Who’s with me?!

The trick is to put your bacon meat through a grinder or chop it very, very finely. If you go for the chopping route, make sure your bacon is cold before you slice into it. It’ll make things easier. You can even throw it in the freezer for 10 minutes before chopping. Here’s what my bacon looked like after I gave it a really good chop. And I still went back for more chopping after this. The finer the better.

bacon chopped

 

Once you’ve got your bacon nice and fine, you’re ready to marry it with the beef. (Do I hear wedding bells?) I actually chopped it into my beef and folded the mixture, chopping and folding again and again to make sure it was well mixed and any larger bacon pieces were chopped fine. (Normally you wouldn’t want to fuss much with the ground meat to avoid overworking it, but because of the texture of the bacon and the amount of fat in the bacon, it didn’t seem to affect the final outcome.)

Okay, now you’re turn!

The Bacon Makes Everything Better Burger

 

The Bacon Makes Everything Better Burger

Yield: 4 sliders

 

For the burger:

¼ pound cold hickory smoked bacon, about 3 slices of bacon, put through a meat grinder or chopped very finely (you really can’t chop it too finely – chop, chop and chop again!)

¾ pound 85/15 organic grass fed ground beef

½ teaspoon grapeseed oil

1 batch of homemade barbecue sauce

4 slider buns, lightly toasted

4 slices of aged sharp cheddar

12 thin slices of dill pickles

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

 

Place an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fold to mix together bacon and ground beef. Form 4 equal sized patties, 3-inches wide by 1-inch thick, and place on a parchment-lined sheet tray.

Bake, flipping the burgers at the 10-minute mark, until the internal temperature of the burger reaches 130 degrees Fahrenheit (use a digital thermometer), approximately 20 minutes.

Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the grapeseed oil. Let pan sit over medium-high heat for a full minute, or until the oil just begins to smoke. Swirl the oil in the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Using a paper towel, dab the top of the burgers and add the burgers to the pan, dry side down, and cook for 45 seconds, just enough to sear the bottom side. Using a metal spatula, flip and sear the opposite side for another 45 seconds. Transfer burgers to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Spread homemade barbecue sauce on bottom side of bun. Place burger on barbecue laden bun, add cheese and 3 slices of pickles each. Spread mayonnaise on top of bun. Put together and enjoy every bite.

Note: the USDA recommends that any ground meat be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, if you know where your meat comes from and who’s grinding it and you want a medium-rare or medium burger, like me, you may make the choice to do otherwise.

German-Style Potato Salad

Here’s another dish for your July Fourth Feast. I designed this potato salad to use a vinegar  based dressing with just a touch of mayo so it’s lighter and brighter than the classic mayonnaise only versions. Hope you enjoy!

German-Style Potato Salad

German-Style Potato Salad

Yield: 4 servings

 

2 pounds small white or new red potatoes, scrubbed

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 strips applewood-smoked bacon, halved lengthwise and then cut into ¼-inch slices, crosswise (¾ cup)

4 medium shallots, peeled and diced small (¾ cup)

3½ tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and chopped roughly

3 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

1/16 teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

4 celery stalks, diced small (2 cups)

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced medium

¾ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and fill with cool water, enough to cover the potatoes.

Over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until the potatoes can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife.

Drain the potatoes, then cut each potato into medium cubes.

Meanwhile, add the bacon and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, to a medium sauté pan. Place the sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook for approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until much of the fat has rendered off, and the bacon is just beginning to get nice and crispy. Transfer the bacon to a side plate, and if you’re from the South, like me, save the bacon fat for another use.

In a medium container with a tight fitting lid, make a vinaigrette by combining the shallots, vinegar, capers, mustard, chile flakes, and remaining olive oil, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

In a large bowl, gently fold to combine the warm cubed potatoes, vinaigrette, celery, mayonnaise, diced egg, parsley, and bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate until chilled. Once chilled, season to taste with salt and pepper once again and serve.