Tag Archives: bacon

Slutty lunch/Simple lunch

Some time ago I wrote about the fridge slut, a dish concocted from the odds and ends in the fridge. It’s a dish that, I reckon, has a 50/50 chance of going well. There is always the very real possibility that your speculative marriage of maple syrup and spring onions is going to end in tears. But then it’s just as possible that your fridge sluttery will end in triumph.

Yesterday, buried under an avalanche of deadlines, I couldn’t face going to the shops. I boiled a potato. I fried some bacon and onion with a little thyme. I made an eye-watering dressing with English mustard and cider vinegar, then put my face in the fridge. Chives! Radishes! Salad leaves! All the above made a happy union on my plate.

But something was missing. I fried an egg. I bunged it on top then ate the whole slutty mess in one go. While watching Made In Chelsea. Ha!

*****

Today’s lunch was more civilised. Fat English asparagus boiled for a couple of minutes, tossed in melted butter and served on garlicky toast with hot smoked trout and horseradish. Somehow the slut was better.

If you were to make a fridge slut now, what would it consist of?

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Feed that cold [tartiflette]

Manflu struck this week. Yes, I was at death’s door for the best part of two days – my throat nothing but daggers and razor blades, my head obfuscated and giddy, my nose, oh – so runny, so, so runny. Cadaverous days followed sleepless nights. At one point I even drank some lemsip – it was that bad.

But I had to eat. I’m not going to go hungry just because I feel rough. Quite the opposite in fact – it is in eating that one’s health is restored, one’s body realigns, those nasty little bacteria retreat and normality resumes. Probably. I mean, I’m not a doctor, but it would seem that eating raises the spirits and gives the body the resolve it needs to fight the pathogenic invasion. You have to feed a cold.

And that’s just what I did. In fact, I was so convinced that this tartiflette would make me better that I tweeted about it. And, as Borat might say, it was great success.

Tartiflette


Tartiflette is traditionally made with reblochon, but I am an honest man, and I used Brie. I also think the breadcrumbs were something of a bastardisation, but they worked well.

Serves 1 with leftovers

1 large potato

3 rashers streaky bacon, chopped up

half an onion, sliced

1 teaspoon sage, finely chopped (dried is fine otherwise)

1 tablespoon cream

Brie – enough for 8 thin slices

White wine

Breadcrumbs

Butter

Preheat the oven to 150C.

– Wash and thickly slice the potato, then boil in salted water for 6 minutes until just tender. Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crispy, then add the onions and sage. Fry until soft and a little brown at the edges.

– Drain the spuds. [Now, if you’re cooking for yourself I’d recommend doing the next bit in the same saucepan to save yourself the washing up. If you are going for beauty points then do it in a nice ovenproof dish.] Rub a little butter into your saucepan/dish and put a spoonful of the bacon and onion mix on the bottom. Add a layer of potatoes, then about half the cream and a few slices of Brie. Repeat (bacon and onion, potato, rest of the cream, brie) and pour over a dribble of white wine.

– Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake for 45 minutes. Serve with green salad and cornichons.

– Have a hot toddy (50ml whiskey, teaspoon of honey, slice of lemon in a mug, topped up with boiling water), go to bed, feel better in the morning.

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Fridge slut [leftovers soup]


slut n. a slovenly or promiscuous woman.

fridge slut n. any dish that is fashioned from various and usually unconnected ingredients found in the fridge. Most often encountered in student digs or my grandmother’s kitchen.

I am moving to London this week, and so as a flat we have taken it upon ourselves to eat the entire fridge and freezer. It’s a gargantuan task, and one that is not free of surprises. Some things should have been chucked out long ago – the indiscernible mayonnaisey thing that appears to have anchovies in, though I don’t remember having used anchovies in the last 3 months (alas! fussy flatmates); the handful of tiramisu, saved with good intentions but that, realistically, was never going to get eaten unless by someone ravenous yet miraculously lucid at 4am, tucked as it was at the back of the fridge behind a jar of gherkins; the thai green curry paste that ought really to be edible still, yet whose odour is ever-so-slightly rancid, the coriander discoloured and the fish sauce just a little higher than is desirable.

The freezer houses further delights – a small zip-lock bag of crumble mix left over from Lydia’s (10/10) rhubarb crumble a while back, hanging in there optimistically but with little chance of employment (ah, the poetic similarities between myself and that little bag of crumble); a plastic bag full of rhubarb from home, whose marriage to the crumble would have proved so perfect, so serendipitous, and yet whose consummation was just a bridge too far during exams; another zip-lock bag of burgers, purloined furtively from the freezer at home – wasted, it transpires.

Last night’s supper did manage to make a dent, if only a small one, in the vast quantities of food that we have somehow amassed over the last couple of weeks. A Caesar Salad made with some roast chicken legs, baby gems, tomatoes, frozen peas, basil, and parsley, and humming with tabasco and English mustard, was a good, light Sunday night supper after sitting in the sun all day – Lydia had put on a Bollywood festival, a joyous end to the year, and so we’d spent the afternoon idling on the grass, drinking cider, watching some magical outdoor theatre, and wolfing down curry from Bristol’s Thali Cafe.

I ambitiously defrosted some fish stock that I had made with some crab shell swiped from the Albion – it seemed to be the last thing that would get eaten, and yet I was adamant that it would. We had so many wonderful green vegetables, some leftover noodles, and, controversially (for the Asian purists), some smoked bacon from home. There was only one thing for it – fridge slut. And quite a slut it was too – spring onion, celery, courgette, pak choi et al were hoyed into a saucepan and simmered for a matter of minutes in the stock before being slurped up greedily for lunch.

Fridge slut soup

Serves 4-6

Some smoky bacon – 8 rashers or so
A bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
4 sticks of celery, sliced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
A pinch of chilli flakes
25g butter
2 large courgettes, diced
White wine, a glass or so
1 1/2 litres of hot fish stock (chicken stock would do)
2 pak choi, sliced, the smaller ones left whole
Some noodles (optional)

Slice the bacon into thin strips and fry in a little oil until crispy – you’ll need to stir them every now and then. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl, and pour off most of the excess fat. Return the pan to a moderate heat and add the onions and celery. Season with salt and pepper and soften for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, while you crush the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar. Add these, along with the cayenne and chilli flakes, to the onion and celery, and stir for another minute. Increase the temperature and add the butter, stirring it until it coats the vegetables and they start to think about changing colour. Add the white wine and boil for 30 seconds, then add the stock. Bring to the boil and add the pak choi, most of the bacon, and noodles if you’re using them. Simmer for 3 minutes and serve sprinkled with crispy smoked bacon.

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A summer risotto

My no-alcohol endeavours came to a fairly untimely end after 2 long and sweaty sets of tennis when my friend Anthony suggested a pint in our local. The newly refurbished Bull Inn in West Tanfield sits at the bottom of the Yorkshire Dales and perched along the River Ure which becomes the Ouse later in its south-easterly meanderings. It has one of the prettiest beer gardens I have ever been in, beside a stunning old stone bridge. In short, the idea of supping a lime and soda there seems ludicrous. In spitting distance are the Black Sheep and Theaston breweries, with Timothy Taylors not far either, and a great swathe of smaller breweries all producing sublime bitter and ale.

But a man must eat, and our foray into the Bull’s menu had to be postponed as Anthony’s mother had already cooked for him. Me, I had Dad breathing down my neck to eat whatever was in the fridge (he and Mum were going out for supper) – two barbecued partridges which had been in there for God knows how long, and a huge bag of fresh peas from the garden. The partridges, I decided, could wait for the dogs. I set about shelling the peas, a job made less tiresome by the fact that you could pop them in your mouth as you went, but more so because you had to shell double as a result of this practice. The peas are slung in a risotto with some bacon and fresh mint, and although I burn my tongue in my over-zealousness to gobble it down (it would be soothed by Theakstons later) it is comforting yet inherently summery. These quantities serve 1 but can all be multiplied within reason.
I took a photo but it was crap – you know what a risotto looks like.
Pea, bacon and mint risotto

3 rashers streaky bacon
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or onion
75g Arborio risotto rice
A splash of white wine or vermouth
650ml hot chicken stock (cubed is fine)
a handful of freshly shelled peas – frozen are perfectly good too though
25g Parmesan cheese
A few mint leaves, sliced
In a saute pan (like a large saucepan that never grew tall) fry the bacon over a medium heat till lightly crispy and pop on kitchen paper to drain a little. Reduce the heat and add the shallot to the pan with a little olive oil and a crunch of pepper (don’t add salt at this point – the bacon, Parmesan and, I find, stock cubes all have a fair amount of salt so only add salt at the end if you feel it is necessary). Soften the shallot, increase the heat and add the rice, stirring for a minute or two. Add the white wine and stir till the rice has absorbed it. Then add a ladle of stock. Once this has been absorbed, add another. Continue in this fashion for 15 minutes, stirring regularly but not constantly – there’s really no need. Chop the bacon into bits. When the rice is almost cooked but still has a little bite to it, add the bacon, peas, cheese and mint, and a final ladle of stock and stir for another 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add a little salt and/or pepper if necessary. Eat. Don’t burn your tongue.

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