Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Bacon is one of the easiest things to make and eat in the morning, especially if you cook it in the oven in two stages - par cooked in advance and then finished off crispy the next day. I've been experimenting a lot with ma la seasoned bacon lately. Ma la (麻辣) is a characteristic flavour of Sichuan cuisine - Ma means numbing, from Sichuan pepper and La is heat from ground red pepper. Adding all the seasoning during the par cooking was easiest but the ma didn't really come through. The best version had hot pepper added during par cooking and Sichuan pepper during the final stage cooking.
Ma La Bacon: Separate half a pound thick slices of bacon and sprinkle with 1 tbs coarse red pepper powder. (Korean kochu jang would work great.) Wrap in foil or place in covered container and cook slowly until the fat is mostly melted, about 20 minutes in a medium (325-350 degree F) oven. It is okay if the slices overlap. You can pour off some of the fat at this stage if you are going to finish it within a day; if you are going to store the half-cooked bacon longer keep it submerged in fat. Shortly before serving lay bacon slices flat on foil or a ridged pan, sprinkle with 1 tsp Sichuan pepper, and heat in a hot oven (400-425 deg f) for 10 minutes until crisp and fragrant. If you are serving a bacon and egg brunch this is enough for two; if you are making crepes as shown and provide another filling it will serve four.
Apple Compote: Peel and chop two large or three medium apples, and bring to a boil with 2 tbs apple juice or apple vinegar over medium heat in a covered saucepan. Add 1 tsp cinnamon if desired. Turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for sugar - I never add any, but some like it very sweet. Makes 1 1/2 cups and keeps 1 week in the fridge.