On a usual Friday morning, (i.e. pre coronavirus lockdown) our apprentice would take orders for bacon rolls from a catering van on our industrial estate. The great British bacon butty is nothing short of a national institution. Whether it's your go-to hangover remedy, or your reward for turning up at an early morning 'breakfast' meeting that marriage of salty, well cooked bacon on buttered bread offers a heavenly moment of food joy.
But with the all the pleasure comes the pain of knowing that bacon just isn't good for us. This is largely due to the use of nitrates/nitrites as additives in the meat curing process. They serve to enhance colour (retaining the pink effect), help with flavour development (the saltiness we love so much in bacon) and perform an antimicrobial role, to help prevent the growth of nasty bacteria. But when you cook bacon at high temperatures the nitrates/nitrites can form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcenogenic (they are the main form of carcenogen in tabacco) which is why eating lots of bacon is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Lots being the key word here.
Despite this knowledge, the thought of a bacon roll still sounds highly appealing, except I've had too many morning rolls filled with a paltry helping of slimy, fatty overly pink bacon to enable me to resist the temptation on a Friday morning.
But I was excited today to have two packets of organic dry cured middle bacon from Windshiel Farm in the Scottish Borders. The first packet was deployed inside sourdough bread slavered with butter and topped with tomato sauce. A perfect bacon sandwich. Not healthy, but oh so delicious and perfectly fine when consumed in moderation!
The second packet was earmarked for a variation on my regular batch of tomato sauce making; an amatriciana.
900g Large Vine Tomatoes (8-9 tomatoes)
250g bacon, chopped into small pieces
3 medium brown onions, finely chopped
3 plump cloves of garlic, crushed
200ml white wine
200ml vegetable boullion
Drop the tomatoes into a large pan of boiling water and then plunge into cold water, and peel off the skins. Then chop into small chunks.
Dry the pan off then melt the butter and gently fry the bacon until well cooked but avoid burning. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain off any excess fat.
Add the onions to the pan, season with salt, cook until well softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute before pouring in the wine. Let the wine reduce, cooking off the alcohol before returning the bacon to the pan and adding the tomatoes and stock.
Simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes until the tomatoes are well softened. I let my sauce cook on for an extra 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.