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  • back bacon vs American bacon
    British Bacon vs American bacon

    If you've been reading the site lately, you may have been following Nick on his rather strange quest to recreate a full English breakfast from scratch (his first project was the British banger sausage). Why, I don't know. But when Nick proposed that I take over the homemade bacon portion of the project, I leapt at the opportunity to contribute. Homemade meat curing has long been a hobby of mine, despite the protests of my wife when I hung a pork jowl in our living room. For me, the bacon is the most interesting part on the plate when it comes to proper English breakfast.

    The only problem is that the British have got bacon all backwards. They don't traditionally use the familiar bacon cut we know and love in the U.S., and there is a ton of conflicting information out there on the subject.

    Vocabulary was my first problem: their bacon is "grilled," which actually means broiled; they refer to pieces of bacon as "rashers," but only if it's a certain type of bacon; the cut that actually looks like American bacon is called "streaky," and whether you choose rashers or streaky says things not only about your tastes, but your economic standing. It's even the subject of a nursery rhyme involving someone named Jack Sprat.

    But I managed to make my way through the muck and have emerged with a firm grasp on what seems to be a confounding set of opinions and methods attached to the word "bacon." So I feel a culinary duty to set the record straight, as far as my ability can take me, and in the meantime will be demonstrating how to make yourself a proper hunk of British-style bacon.

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    File this one under projects that seem a lot harder than they actually are.

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  • By Nick Kindelsperger My first attempt at giardiniera was so...


    My first attempt at giardiniera was so bad I couldn't even talk about it, let alone write about it.  It was oily, bland, and just plain unappetizing.  It was supposed to go with my Italian beef post, but I just dumped the containers in the trash and bought a jar from the store.  To my surprise I kind of fell in love with the jar.  It started appearing on all kinds of dishes, whether they were necessarily Italian-American or not.  Its pickled punch accentuated other foods, instead of covering them all up. 

    When that jar quickly ran out, I decided to give this very Chicagoan condiment a second chance.  Perhaps there were was a recipe out there that could actually work.  Part of the problem is that giardiniera is kind of a generic Italian term for "woman gardener" and in its home country you can find any kind of vegetable in it.  It's fine stuff, but it's not Chicago giardiniera, which is a little more fiery and a little less wholesome.  The latter is what I wanted.  I didn't want a nice antipasto, I wanted something crass for dressing an Italian beef.