Ah, Bacon, I love you so…
I love cooking shows. I remember watching Julia Childs when I was a kid, on PBS. I could watch the Food Network all day long (as long as it’s not that <bleep> Sandra Lee). I’m not sure why – I suppose it is the magic of watching basic ingredients become something new and delicious. Well, that and the fact that I like interesting food. And eating it.
Although I love Paula Deen and Ina Garten and Alton Brown and Nigella Lawson (and don’t get me started on the yumminess that is Dave Lieberman), Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson are my two favorites. They were the Two Fat Ladies.
Clarissa and Jennifer were two enormous British women who had a show for three years on BBC2. The shows always started with the two of them driving up to a monastery, or a boys school, or a group of fire fighters, always looking classy in their motorcycle with sidecar. I’m not sure how Clarissa fit into the sidecar, but she did it, lord bless her.
They would then take over the charming kitchen, and make amazing fatty foods. Like “bubble and squeak”, or scones with buttermilk, or this one time there was a meatloaf that Jennifer completely wrapped in bacon and fried in drippings. Every recipe included pounds of butter, or gobs of lard, or strips of bacon. Yes, my arteries started hardening just watching this show, but it was destination tv.
Two Fat Ladies Meatloaf
They called it hedgehog, probably because of its shape.
1/2 lb. mushrooms, diced
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb. chicken livers
1 1/2 lbs. each ground beef, ground pork
1 pound sausage meat
1/2 cup finely diced onion
3 fat cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
1 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
1/2 lb. sliced bacon
Branches of fresh rosemary
Sauté the mushrooms in butter until the juices run, then season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Reserve. Remove the sinews from the livers. Lightly poach the livers in simmering water, just until they turn grey and firm up. Cool and dice. In a large bowl combine the ground meats, sausage, livers, onion, garlic, coriander, allspice and thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the sausage contains salt. Beat the eggs and add to the mixture together with the mushrooms. Mix with your hands thoroughly.
Oil a roasting pan and place all the mixture in it, molding it into an oval shape. Adorn with the bacon slices, criss-crossed, tucking the ends under the meat. Tuck some bay leaves and branches of rosemary into the bacon. Cook in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350ºF and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
When cooked, there will be lots of lovely juices in the bottom of the pan. Save them to flavor soup or stocks, and save the fat to fry eggs. Remove the loaf and place on a serving dish. Serve hot or cold.
And finally, the delicious Dave Lieberman: