When I was little I remember asking my mom if people could be vegetarians, could they also be meatatarians? No, she said, you mean carnivores and no, people cannot be carnivores. I remember a feeling of disappointment. I really was hoping the answer was yes.
The thing is, my mom was a really good cook, especially when it came to main dishes, she just wasn’t very adventurous when it came to vegetables which were served steamed and plain. I say was, because she backed away from the kitchen the day my father retired. She cooked lots of wonderful dishes that were favorites of mine, Greek Stifado, eggplant parmesan, meatloaf with hardboiled eggs in the center and of course, Party Perfect Chicken. Now in case you haven’t had it, Party Perfect Chicken has many odd ingredients in it, such as coconut, curry, ketchup and bacon. Ahhhhh bacon.
Not only can bacon make chicken taste better, it can make just about any vegetable taste better. I think if my mom had made vegetables with bacon I might have been more enthusiastic about them. In Seduced by Bacon, surely one of the best cookbook titles ever, there are several vegetable and side dishes with bacon. I like the idea of incorporating bacon into dishes like Rapini with Pine Nuts and Currants, Creamed Spinach and Glazed Pearl Onions, but my favorite might be Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts, Shiitakes and Scallions. The dish is described as the “perfect antidote for people who way they hate brussels sprouts.”
Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts, Shiitakes and Scallions
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
10 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced
3 ounces shiitake or oyster mushrooms, wiped, stems removed and discarded, cut into thick slices
8 scallions, including most of the green parts, trimmed and sliced
2 Tablespoons medium sherry
1 12/ Tablespoons soy suace
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
1. In a large wok, hea the bacon over medium heat until the fat covers the bottom of the pan, 2-3 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir-fry until they are bright green, 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Site in the shiitakes and scallions and stir-fry for 3 minutes more.
2. Add the sherry and soy sauce, raise the heat to high, and cook for 2 minutes longer, sitrring often. Stir in the sesame oil and pepper flakes and serve.
Recipe from Seduced by Bacon, by Janna Pruess with Bob Lape, The Lyons Press 2006.
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