The bacon sarnie – who doesn’t love it? A few crispy rashers between white sourdough bread with a splash of HP or tomato sauce: it’s the breakfast, lunch or anytime snack of choice for everyone from builders to politicians, students to CEOs. Even some of my vegetarian friends sigh nostalgically at the thought of frying bacon. The smell gets ‘em every time!
When looking for bacon, I’m after free-range, firm-fleshed slices that are juicy and deeply smoked. I find a lot of things taste better wrapped in bacon. Salmon, for example. Its rich flesh works well with the salty smokiness of bacon, and when you team them with mustard and potatoes all that’s left to think about is what to drink. Well, OK, and maybe something green like a salad.
Bacon has an affinity with sweet dishes as well. I had an idea for a crispy bacon and Nutella French toast that I know the kids would love, but on second thought I changed my mind and used banana instead to try to make it sound a little healthier. I don’t think I’m fooling anyone.
Salmon wrapped in bacon with mustard potatoes
500g waxy potatoes, cut in 2cm pieces
4 tbsp olive oil, plus a little for brushing
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
salt and pepper
100g fennel, finely diced
handful frozen peas, blanched and chilled
3 green onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
1-2 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
4 x 150g salmon fillets
4 slices streaky bacon
4 lemon thyme sprigs
1 tbsp sumac
Cook potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes. Make dressing by combining 4 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, mustard and sugar (I usually put dressing ingredients in a small, lidded jar and give it a good shake until emulsified.) Check the seasoning. Drain potatoes and tip into a bowl. Roughly smash them with a fork, before adding the dressing. Add the fennel, peas and green onions to the potatoes. Stir well to combine. Set aside to cool a little. When cool, stir through the dill and parsley. Don’t refrigerate before serving, the potatoes taste better at room temperature. Heat the oven to 190C. Season the fish with black pepper and a small amount of salt. Wrap each piece of salmon with a bacon rasher. Tuck a sprig of thyme under the bacon. Brush with a little oil and bake for 15-20 minutes until the fish is cooked and the bacon golden. Squeeze lemon over fish. Place a small amount of potato salad on a plate, top with cooked salmon and sprinkle a little sumac over everything.
French toast with banana and crispy bacon
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp castor sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
8 slices streaky bacon
4 thick brioche slices
4 tbsp butter
4 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced diagonally
maple syrup to drizzle
icing sugar to dust
Beat the eggs, milk, castor sugar and cinnamon together until well mixed. Place the bacon on a tray, bake or grill until crisp then keep warm until needed. Heat a large frypan, place brioche slices in egg mixture and let soak for a minute. When the pan is hot, melt half the butter and add the brioche slices after lifting them out of the egg mix and draining some of the excess. Cook on a medium heat until golden on both sides. Remove the brioche from the pan, add remaining butter and when the pan is hot, sauté the banana for a few minutes until caramelised. To serve, place a brioche slice on a plate, top with bacon and banana, drizzle maple syrup over and dust with icing sugar.
Cooking bacon in the oven or under the grill gives a crisper result and is a lot cleaner, with no splatter from a frypan.