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A Little More Soup: This Time It’s Split Pea Soup

split pea soup

I haven’t forgotten about soups! There’s a rule somewhere, that says I can’t write about soups everyday, or every three days, or whatever. And then there’s a rule that says I should write about soups and the rest of you can wait until I get done. So, I’m going to try to split the difference. Which brings us to one of the best creamy soups I’ve ever made — a nice little split pea soup.

I don’t remember a good soup I don’t like, so I’m not much of a fair guide on this. But this soup’s got a rich creamy texture that doesn’t come from eggs or cream, but from a small addition of potatoes instead.  That does something that’s makes this soup slightly different. And it’s also vegetarian (though you could use chicken stock and butter, if you like). What really sets this off, though, is the little addition of bacon and a whole lot of tarragon for the garnish. It adds just the right touch of finesse. 

Oh, and yes, the peas come through like you wouldn’t believe.

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Twice Fried Fries with Bacon and Cheese

twice fried fries

How do you make a great french fry? I’m gonna guess, despite the simplicity in frying potatoes, that there are plenty of answers to that question, but I’m gonna offer up my best guess — it’s twice fried fries. I know, probably about half of you out there already knew that, and the rest are using frozen fries (I’ll come back to those) or good old, once fried fries.

If you’re just trying to figure out why twice fried fries works, there’s a great piece at Serious Eats, which explains it pretty well. But I happen to like a story told to me by a French colleague, in which a chef on a train was trying to make some potatoes, somehow lost power and then had to restart them. What he found was that the new potatoes were more interesting and far more crunchy, which became the eventual story for french fries, as well. 

And then there are frozen fries, many — or some of them, anyway — have already been fried even before you get them. At least the good ones do that. 

The recipe below is for my twice fried fries done with a nice hot cheddar cheese and a pile of bacon bits. In the best world, I could just live on these things year round. They are very good and a perfect example of why twice fried fries really does work. They are just gooey with tons of bacon bits. I love them.

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Chicken Wings with Maple, Bacon (and Bourbon)

Chicken Wings Bacon and More

There are many reasons to love a luscious pile of chicken wings on your plate, but honestly, maple, bacon and bourbon? Yup. And it sings, too!

OK, maybe sings isn’t the right word, but it certainly does take the wings to a different level. The bacon bits and the sauce — oh yes, the sauce — is pretty much all there is to this. But getting the sauce just right is perfection, and I mean that. The sauce starts out (for about 2-3 pounds of wings) with 6-8 bacon slices fried nice and crisp. Set the bacon aside and grab a couple of spoonfuls (maybe two tablespoons) of bacon grease and add that to the sauce. Add in a little vinegar, and then a little bourbon and you’ve got a sauce. 

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Makin’ Bacon Part 1

bacon
trimmed pork belly

Pork Belly Trimmed and Ready for the Cure

One of the rules I’ve followed in creating or adapting the recipes here at Discovery Cooking, is to avoid writing about the many failures that come along the way from idea to plate (and there are many). This time out, I’m going to bend that rule just a little and describe my first partly successful foray into turning pork belly into bacon. This also will be a longer post than most, even though there isn’t much of an actual recipe involved.

The good news is that my first home-cured and smoked bacon was definitely not a full-blown failure. I found some very good pork belly, successfully cured it, did a fine job cold-smoking it and in the end it looks, cooks and tastes the way it should. The bad news: My first attempt was too salty by half — almost but not quite too salty to eat, in fact. There is a remedy for that, but I was disappointed all the same. So in the spirit of discovery, here’s what I did, what went wrong and both the temporary and long-term fixes.

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Biscuits and Bacon Eggs Benedict

eggs benedict

OK, that’s an awkward title for a blog post, but hey, its descriptive. It’s a little bit of spin on the classic eggs Benedict, using some of my favorite things — homemade buttermilk biscuits, bacon smoked over cherry wood, an egg poached to perfection and a drizzle of hollandaise sauce.

Lets start with the biscuits: They’re done southern style, which means they rise up tall enough to slice and thus take the place of the traditional English muffin. One of the keys to great biscuits is to handle the dough as little as possible and keep it cool (or even cold) throughout the process. Mixing the dough is a job for a food processor or a Ninja type blender with multiple large blades. I’ve tried a hand mixer and I’ve tried a stand mixer. Neither gets the result I want. I’ve also used a simple pastry cutter, and that works pretty well, actually.

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Sweet Corn Pappardelle

sweet-corn-pappardelle

Sweet corn pappardelle is one of my favorites ways to take advantage of the abundance of sweet white corn that shows up about this time of year at the local farmer’s market and roadside stands almost everywhere but the beltway. I can’t get enough sweet corn and it disappears all too quickly.

Talk about farm to table. Sheesh. Seriously, this corn was in a field yesterday. How can I not buy it?

This is an adaptation from a recipe the lovely Carol saw in a magazine (Food & Wine, perhaps) some years ago. We tried it, messed with it and this is the result. You can try this with canned or frozen corn, but I promise, it won’t be the same.

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Bacon Candy

bacon candy

A little later today, we’ll be putting up a couple of posts highlighting our July 4th dinner, which is going to be portable, since we’re heading across town for the fireworks display. But this bacon candy is a key ingredient in Carol’s not-quite-famous (yet) Bedeviled Eggs, which themselves are her take on the Deviled Eggs at Jackson’s.

The biggest problem with bacon candy is figuring out how to avoid consuming it all before the deviled eggs are ready for it. I’ve thought about hiring an armed guard, but the kitchen isn’t really big enough.

This is easy. Preheat oven to 400F. Combine half a cup of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper and 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika. Lay the bacon out in a single layer on a baking sheet with a rack. Spread the dry ingredients over the bacon and bake for 20-25 minutes until the bacon is nearly crisp and the sugar has caramelized. When done, cool completely to allow the sugar to set.

Bacon candy is great by itself, on salads and, as you’ll see, on Bedeviled Eggs.

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