Edible Michiana Spring 2014 : Page 50

Q&A Chewing the Fat Edible Michiana Talks Bacon with an Expert E ditor Maya Parson chats with farmer Adam Derstine of Blue Heron Farm (Millersburg, Indiana) about a com-mon interest: bacon. Maya Parson: When we started planning this issue, we waffl ed a bit about including a recipe for bacon. Th e whole bacon thing seems so overdone. But we couldn’t resist—because who can resist bacon, right? Adam Derstine: Th e thing about bacon is that it is salty, fatty, sweet and generally fried. So it’s people’s four favorite things about food—and that’s before you even get to any added sea-sonings, which is why it seems to go w ith everything as well. Pork fat is very rich, but it’s nearly tasteless—it’s the vodka of fat. Fat absorbs fl avors, so fatty pork belly is the perfect vehicle to stuff full of fl avors. MP: Everyone knows that bacon tastes incredible, but for folks who don’t make their own, what exactly is bacon? AD: In the U.S., bacon is pork belly that has been cured with salt and then smoked. “Curing” means that salt has removed moisture from the meat. Bacon is usually also cured with sugar and nitrates—the sugar prevents it from tasting too salty and the nitrates help prevent botulism and other bacteria from growing and also give the bacon a lot of its characteristic fl a-vor. Without all these things, pork belly just tastes like a fatty pork chop—delicious, but nothing like bacon. MP: You make your own bacon, from your own pigs. After all that work, what’s your favorite way to enjoy it? AD: A friend of mine just baked a cherry pie with a bacon lat-tice top. But I think the number one best use for bacon is to add dimension to vegetables. A few years ago we made some savory bacon with rosemary, thyme and bay. I did a really bad job of slicing it, and ended up just dicing it, frying it and mak-ing jumbo homemade bacon bits, which we added to kale, soups, etc. And the amazing thing was how little bacon or eff ort it took to make the whole pot of kale taste smoky, rich and just better. MP: So, bacon and kale? Th e thing about bacon is that it is salty, fatty, sweet and generally fried. So it’s people’s four favorite things about food— and that’s before you even get to any added seasonings. AD: Th e Romanian term for kale is varza furagera —literally, “forage cabbage,” mean-ing food for pigs, not people. In Dutch, it’s “farmer’s cabbage.” So before we knew how to grow corn at scale to feed to pigs, people planted kale for pigs to forage because it was a hearty cold weather crop. It’s kind of a cool thought that the vegetable that pigs like so much tastes so much better with some pig added. 50 edible Michiana early spring 2014

Chewing The Fat

Edible Michiana Talks Bacon with an Expert

Editor Maya Parson chats with farmer Adam Derstine of Blue Heron Farm (Millersburg, Indiana) about a common interest: bacon.

Maya Parson: When we started planning this issue, we waffled a bit about including a recipe for bacon. The whole bacon thing seems so overdone. But we couldn't resist – because who can resist bacon, right?

Adam Derstine: The thing about bacon is that it is salty, fatty, sweet and generally fried. So it's people's four favorite things about food – and that's before you even get to any added seasonings, which is why it seems to go with everything as well.

Pork fat is very rich, but it's nearly tasteless – it's the vodka of fat. Fat absorbs flavors, so fatty pork belly is the perfect vehicle to stuff full of flavors.

MP: Everyone knows that bacon tastes incredible, but for folks who don't make their own, what exactly is bacon?

AD: In the U.S., bacon is pork belly that has been cured with salt and then smoked. "Curing" means that salt has removed moisture from the meat. Bacon is usually also cured with sugar and nitrates – the sugar prevents it from tasting too salty and the nitrates help prevent botulism and other bacteria from growing and also give the bacon a lot of its characteristic flavor. Without all these things, pork belly just tastes like a fatty pork chop – delicious, but nothing like bacon.

MP: You make your own bacon, from your own pigs. After all that work, what's your favorite way to enjoy it?

AD: A friend of mine just baked a cherry pie with a bacon lattice top. But I think the number one best use for bacon is to add dimension to vegetables. A few years ago we made some savory bacon with rosemary, thyme and bay. I did a really bad job of slicing it, and ended up just dicing it, frying it and making jumbo homemade bacon bits, which we added to kale, soups, etc. And the amazing thing was how little bacon or eff ort it took to make the whole pot of kale taste smoky, rich and just better.

MP: So, bacon and kale?

AD: The Romanian term for kale is varza furagera – literally, "forage cabbage," meaning food for pigs, not people. In Dutch, it's "farmer's cabbage." So before we knew how to grow corn at scale to feed to pigs, people planted kale for pigs to forage because it was a hearty cold weather crop. It's kind of a cool thought that the vegetable that pigs like so much tastes so much better with some pig added.

Read the full article at http://onlinedigeditions.com/article/Chewing+The+Fat/1636763/197468/article.html.

University of Notre Dame

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