Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Charcutepalooza: The Bacon Brunch, Maple Bacon Cheddar Scones

My homemade maple bacon.

Charcutepalooza. If you follow the food scene, you know what it is. It's a year-long celebration of meat. It's to embrace all things related to home curing. It's well over 200 bloggers brought together by Cathy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen and Kim of The Yummy Mummy. It's a beautiful thing.

I hopped on board late, picking up when the second challenge was announced (the first was duck prosciutto, look for it in the coming months). This challenge (the salt cure) not only enticed me, but the husband. You know he's a self-professed bacon fanatic. So, when he heard I was considering making my own bacon, he, of course was on board.

Now, all the newbie questions and fears came to mind. Will I poison myself? Will I poison someone else? Will I accidentally spill toxic pink curing salt all over the floor and kill the pugs? *ALL* of these fears are silly. I bought the bible for home curers - Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. Michael put all my fears to rest. Seriously, curing meat for longer life is an ancient tradition, one ANYONE, and I
mean ANYONE can pull off at home.

I grabbed my copy of Charcuterie, ordered my pink salt and then emailed Kellie Brook Farm in Greenland, NH (about 20 minutes from my house) for my pork belly. Tim Rocha there could not have been nicer. He dropped off my beautiful 7-pound pork belly where I pick my CSA share up and I was off.

I sliced that baby into three. I made a maple bacon and a savory one. I also tackled the pancetta but that's still hanging, so you'll have to wait for that. I made my basic cure, I trimmed then dredged my belly in it and off it went into my massive zip lock bags to cure in the fridge for a week.

Ready to cure in the fridge
Every day I would go in, flip the bags, rub the cure in tenderly, like they were the most precious things in the world. I love my bacon, I didn't want to lose it. After about 8-9 day days, it had firmed up and was ready to head into the oven to roast. I would have loved to smoke it, but I don't have the means to pick up a smoker at the moment. I would learn, this doesn't matter. What came out of that oven was the most amazing bacon I have ever had the pleasure to put in my mouth.

Slicing it up.
 Seriously, I cannot tell you enough that you've never had bacon unless you've made it at home. The taste, it's just not legal. It does come out a little salty I found, but a little blanching a la Michael Ruhlman's suggestion worked perfectly to take the salty edge off.

This Charcutepalooza Challenge for February will end up being done in three parts, there's just too much bacon-y goodness to go around.  The first two parts will be known as "The Bacon Brunch". I begin with the maple bacon, because frankly, it's my favorite so far. Maybe the pancetta will blow me away, but for right now, I give you a scone that's just not right. I mean, "not right" in a good way. Hide the children and the husband, you're going to want a plate of these for your own.

Maple Bacon Cheddar Scones
Base scone recipe from Cooking Light
Makes: 12 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour (9 ounces)
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 thick slices of maple bacon
1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Cabot's Extra Sharp)

Glaze: (for a more savory scone, just skip the glaze)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Now, let's get to the bacon shall we? Let's fry that loveliness up.

 Now let's chop it up into nice little pieces.

Now take those little morsels of goodness, transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate so they dry up just a bit.

Now, let's continue on making our scones, shall we?

In a large bowl, combine your flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk it all up. Now, transfer that mixture to a food processor (or you can keep it in the bowl if you're going to cut in the butter by hand with a pastry blender or two knives) and add your chilled butter in there. Pulse several times until the butter is incorporated, making the mixture look like coarse cornmeal.

Now transfer that mixture back to your large bowl and add your milk, vanilla, egg white and maple syrup into the mix. Stir until just moist. Now, add your diced bacon and your cheese and knead until both are fully incorporated.

Ready for the oven.
Now, I'm lucky enough to have been gifted with a beautiful cast iron scone pan. It was given to me by my mom's late best friend. We miss her. Bringing out that scone pan today put a smile on my face. You can either use something like this and just spread the dough out like I did in each section or you can do the following:

Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut dough into 12 wedges, cutting into but not through dough.

Whichever way you choose, you're now ready to pop your scone pan or your baking sheet into the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Transfer to a wire baking rack to cool.

Beautifully golden.
While your scones are baking, prepare the glaze. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and maple syrup until combined. Once your scones have cooled a bit, you can brush the glaze over each scone to your hearts desire and then enjoy!

Applying the glaze.
I warn you about these scones. The sweetness of local maple syrup, the bite of Cabot's Extra Sharp Cheddar and the saltiness of the bacon will make this ridicilously difficult to stop at just one.

Oh, and we are NOT done with bacon, not at all....

Savory Bacon

What's that you ask? Oh that's the savory slab of bacon I made. It's going to be the other part of brunch, a winter quiche. And that's not all...

Pancetta before the cure.
Look at that beautiful pancetta. It's coming soon as well. There will be a year of meat in this house, filled with fun, and some amazing bloggers met along the way in the challenge that is Charcutepalooza. Pin It


Mardi Michels said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I love the scones!!!

Mosaica said...

Oh oh oh! Beautiful post, beautiful pictures, and those scones seem like a valentine meant especially for me from you. Thanks :-)

Anna's Table said...

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I'm delighted to see that your blog originates from beautiful Newburyport Mass. It was one of our favourite places to visit while vacationing on the east coast. It such a beautiful area and holds fond memories. Looking forward to following your blog.

meg- grow & resist said...

Oh wow. I want! The scones look incredible! I couldn't get my bacon unsalty enough so I chopped it in bits and froze it for use in recipes. Like this one! Fabulous! Can't wait to hear about the pancetta!

JehanP said...

Yum! I can only imagine how delicious these would be!!

Kate @ Diethood.com said...

Wow, that looks beautiful!!! Great job on the bacon and yum yum on the scones!

sallycan said...

These scones look really good!

briggs said...

great pics and great recipe! it sounds like we were in the same boat, making bacon and pancetta! but two kinds of bacon as well? nice work! now i've gotta try those scones, they sound amazing and i'm not even usually a big scone fan. great work!

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

I don't even know what to say....homemade bacon made into scones? Seriously?!

Melissa @IWasBornToCook said...

These look amazing!

Kimmy Bingham said...

Thank you all! It was such a fun experience to undertake!

Wendy said...

I love this post for so many reasons! Of course, I appreciate the Cabot love... so thank you very much for that! But also, my husband recently got that book and has been making some wonderful things - confit and more! And, I totally love the scones recipe and have already jotted down what I need from the store!

Thanks so much!

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

I don't even know what to say....homemade bacon made into scones? Seriously?!

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