It’s not that I can’t cook. I can fry eggs, I can boil pasta, I can George Foreman a burger. I simply never learned to do it well—never learned proper knife technique or how to select meats at the butcher or even follow a recipe that wasn’t authored by Duncan Hines. It’s usually cheaper (and always easier) to get takeout than cook for one in a kitchenette with no counter space. In this weekly column, I’ll be stumbling through recipes of increasing difficulty.
For the inaugural meal, I prepared the dangerous "Swine Flu Surprise." As we've noted before, properly handled and cooked pork is perfectly safe, and I set out to prove it, with a home cooked meal containing three different types of pig products (including about 4 oz. of bacon fat). The danger, of course, is that I don't know how to properly handle pork and the “surprise” is my utter abandon near open flames. (Photos by Brian Van Nieuwenhoven)
Swine Flu Surprise: Porkchops topped with a bacon fat and Serrano ham vinaigrette, to be chased with PDT's bacon-infused Old Fashioned
• Like, so much meat it’s disgusting
• Any maple syrup that doesn’t come in a bottle shaped like the body of a middle-aged woman
• Some bourbon. I don’t know, what’s a good one? No, that’s too expensive. Okay, that one
• Chicken broth, oil, vinegar, brown sugar and a bunch of other stuff normal people would have in their homes, but you don’t because you eat Graham Crackers for dinner a lot
• Which one is the shallot again?
• I don’t know what thyme looks like, either
• Surgical masks for photo opportunities if you can find them, because it could be pretty funny I guess
• Angostura bitters
1. Go to the grocery store and fill your cart with four porkchops, a package of Oscar Mayer bacon and a quarter-pound of jamon Serrano. If other people in the store don’t acknowledge how funny it is that you’re buying all these pig meats in the middle of Swine Flu hysteria, try singing the Oscar Mayer jingle out loud for attention.
2. Get home and eat two and a half cookies to regain strength.
3. Have a glass of wine, too.
4. Peel stickers off the pans you’ve never used since buying them a year ago at the dollar store.
5. Place three strips of bacon in frying pan and while it cooks, look up how much cholesterol is in bacon fat. Gross, right?
6. Pour bacon fat into a glass for the cocktail, which you’ll make later. It looks a lot like white wine, so don’t accidentally drink it.
7. Pour fat into a martini shaker filled with 2 oz. of bourbon. You were supposed to let it sit at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours but you have this thing called a day job and you don’t have entire afternoons set aside to infuse cheap bourbon with bacon drippings. Skip that step and stick the shaker in the freezer.
8. Omigod, the other recipe calls for even more bacon fat. This is so gross. Cook six more strips of bacon and pour fat into another glass.
9. Switch from wine to beer because the odds of you drinking this fat are pretty high right now.
10. Why do you even have beer in the fridge? Were you trying to impress a guy?
11. Boil 1 2/3 cups of chicken broth until “reduced to 1 cup.” What? How am I supposed to know when it’s down to one cup? Where does the 2/3 of a cup go? Does it just evaporate? Turn off burner after like, 8 minutes or something. I don’t know.
12. Chop up the shallot and sauté it in a pan with vegetable oil. Hey, that was pretty easy. Add 1/3 cup of chopped Serrano, 5 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar and bring it to a boil.
13. Oh shit, you were supposed to get a different kind of ham for this part. The Serrano comes later. Shit.
14. Have another glass of wine.
The real recipes
PDT’s Bacon-Infused Old Fashioned [NY Mag]
Thomas Keller's Roasted Porkchops with Serrano Ham Vinaigrette [Bon Appétit via Epicurious]