Remember the bacon? I finally got around to smoking it, only a couple of days later than I intended to. The two cures had made noticeable differences to the meat; the traditional cure (I use the word loosely here, since it had coffee and tons of garlic in it) had firmed it up and darkened it noticeably, while the miso cure had left the meat firm but still supple and only slightly colored. I put them both in a maple smoke for about 90 minutes- since they were under 1 lb. each they got to 150˚ in the center pretty fast.
And then the tasting. For this, the whole family appeared, as if by magic, though they tried to act all nonchalant like they just happened to walk in as soon as the bacon came out of the smoker: “Oh, sure, I guess I’ll try a little piece.” We were unanimous- the traditional was delicious, but too salty, while the miso cure was simply incredible. I’m pretty sure that henceforth this will be it for me and bacon; it had the magic proportions of sweet, salty, umami, and complex so totally where they needed to be that any tinkering will be gentle and around the edges. The slight hint of sour yuzu that comes through in the aftertaste is a wonder to behold. A tad more togarashi would lend the citrus tang a slight iodine edge and boost the heat a bit, but it’s honestly hard to imagine better bacon. It even stayed creamier through the smoking.
To make immediate use of this glory, I threw some of our new favorite local organic navy beans in the pressure cooker and got them going. While they hissed, I picked onion, celery, carrot, parsley, and herbs and made a big pot of chicken broth using the caracasses from the night before- we roasted two big birds for Christine’s family who were in town for her performance. And I rendered off some of the saltier bacon with aromatics, deglazed with wine, and then added in al dente beans, covered all with broth, and let it simmer for about a half hour more. We busied ourselves with some corn and cucumber salad while we waited. (Many more cucumbers went into the pickling crock for the year’s first batch of pickles).
And then the beans. Milo complained that his were too hot- the temperature impeded the high-speed wolfing that the beans demanded- so I tossed an ice cube of trotter broth into his bowl and told him to stir. And then it got very quiet for a while. Seriously, there’s nothing at all fancy about this food, but when all the components are homegown, -made, or locally sourced, it takes it to the place that the great peasant food of the world has always enjoyed: perfection.
Adding a whole other dimenion to this haute-humble repast was a bottle of 2005 Domaine Longval Tavel. Old rosé- excepting López de Heredia- is kind of an oxymoron, but this was mighty. An ever-so-slight whiff of oxidation just added more ways in which it could pair with food, and the resulting depth and complexity of flavor put it in a category altogether separate from most other pink wine, which is fitting, since Tavel has always enjoyed a special place in the world of rosé. Special enough to earn it a place next to our ridiculous bacon, of which there will be much, much more to come.