Gathering the straws of life together

Bringing home the bacon

Bringing home the bacon

What does “bringing home the bacon” mean? Does it mean going out buying and bringing home the bacon? It can mean that, but it is also an adage that been said over the centuries with an entirely different meaning. It means to earn a living for the family, that is, to provide the necessities of life.

At our place, it is good to know we have the necessities of life, provided after a life of work! One of the necessities of life for me, is having bacon on hand. That is, not literally on my hand, but handy, like in the freezer! We freeze our bacon between sheets of “Go-Between” and it takes only minutes to defrost, so bacon is very handy at our place.

Yet, bringing home the bacon, bacon we really enjoy, is not as simple as it sounds. Some bacon I have bought is so bland, others will not crisp up readily in the pan. Bringing home the bacon means I have bought bacon from every supermarket and most speciality shops in Toowoomba. I was prepared to pay top $$’s to get great bacon. I would always take my O&O on a detour to a place in Toowoomba that sold Schulte’s bacon. Schulte’s Meat Tavern based in Plainland in the Lockyer Valley Region, Queensland, like to put the term paddock to plate into practice. They use locally sourced meat, including pork to get the best result with their bacon. They have a long list of awards including, third in Australia’s Best Bacon Awards in 2014 and winners at the Queensland Ham, Bacon and Smallgoods Competition in 2017.

Schulte’s bacon was the best I had found to date until about a month ago when my O&O and I shopped at Aldi. It was there I found the cherry wood smoked short cut bacon. Since then it has become a definite favourite.

To cook the perfect bacon without too much fuss or mess I bought the Décor Bacon Cooker promoted by Fast Ed. As simple as it sounds, when Fast Ed talks about it, I could not get the bacon to cook the way I wanted it. As one review I read, before I placed my bacon cooker in the bin – “short of standing on my head and whistling through my eyebrows, I cannot get the bacon cooker to work properly”. My sentiments exactly. Do it the old-fashioned way. Bacon in the pan, fried eggs in the pan or if poaching in simmering water.

GUIDE TO COOKING BACON

PREPARATION: Always take bacon out of the fridge or freezer and allow it to get to room temperature.

PAN COOKING: Crispy bacon in the pan. Place the bacon in a cold pan and cook on low and slow.

OVEN COOKING: Line an oven tray with foil, place bacon on a wire rack and then turn on the heat to 190 degrees Celsius. Bake for 15 minutes or more depending on how crispy you like it.

MICROWAVE COOKING: On a microwave safe plate place 2-3 paper towels on the plate, then spread out the bacon, top with same number of paper towels. Cook for 4-6 minutes.

As I know only too well, guides are there to “guide” us. But not all guides deliver! Yesterday I decided to put the “pan cooking” guide to the test. Firstly, I allowed the bacon to get to room temperature. It gave me time to do a few other things. But my O&O had to check if breakfast was still on the menu? Time to start! However, with the start being a cold pan and with the heat lower than usual, it took three times as long to cook the bacon. Perhaps next time I will try cooking it in the microwave. But would it make any difference? The bacon I used (the one from Aldi) does not crisp well. It is best lightly pan fried.

Bacon and eggs for breakfast. Here is my attempt at crispy bacon. Served with poached eggs and baby Roma tomatoes. The eggs would look better on a coloured plate or one with a design – too much white!

Of course, we only eat Princess Eggs at our place. The Princess Chickens get only the best and then they pass on the compliment to us! Bacon and eggs with a little tomato on the side or mushrooms – delizioso! About the poached eggs. I don’t like too much vinegar in the water, ¼ – ½ teaspoon or none at all. Otherwise, they will turn out like café eggs, tiny balls sitting on top of a piece of toast with the white shrivelled up!

Did you know that in Australia we have a “bacon week” each year? Australian Bacon Week runs from 25 June to 1 July celebrating 100% Australian bacon. It also draws attention to the competition local bacon faces from imported products. The competition is open to butchers and smallgoods companies who use Australian pork to make bacon. Last year more than 125 bacons were judged by a specialist judging panel. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Griffith Butchery was the winner of the overall award as well as receiving first in the “full rasher” category. Barossa Find Foods, South Australia (SA), won the best shortcut bacon. It is a little far for me to travel to pick up and bring home the bacon from the ACT or SA! I will just have to rely on what I can find locally.

While the flavour of the cherry smoked bacon is fine I am still on the look out for better bacon. I may find this at Gray’s Modern Meat Mart in Toowoomba. Owner Mark Nolan won the Queensland Short Cut category at the 2017 Australian PorkMark Bacon awards. Could this be the end to my search for the perfect bacon for me to bring home? In the meantime, please give me any of your bacon buying or cooking tips.

I have also heard about another way to cook bacon that I am still to try. Place the bacon in a frying pan and cover with water. Allow the water to boil away and the bacon will crisp up. The result – crispy yet with a tender texture – if it is good bacon to begin with!

Did you know that the phrase “bringing home the bacon” originated in the 12th century in the small town of Great Dunmow in Essex, England? According to local legend, the church in Great Dunmow would award a side of bacon (called a “flitch”) to any man who could honestly say that he had not argued with his wife for a year and a day. I wonder how many they gave away each year?



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