There’s no arguing when I say that we here at The Manual love our bacon. We were extremely excited when we saw that Theresa Gilliam and E. Jane Armstrong created a book titled Bacon 24/7: Recipes for Curing, Smoking, and Eating. In the tome are delectable photographs by Armstrong that just make us salivate, along with recipes to eat bacon any time of the day, from cheddar bacon biscuits at dawn to frisée salad midday to pasta alla carbonara at dusk and a bacon Manhattan for dark. This is our kind of book. We quizzed Gilliam and Armstrong on the joys of bacon and the best way to make it at home.
Why did you decide to write a book about bacon?
E. Jane Armstrong: Well it came about by accident- I wanted to give Theresa some test opportunities to develop her food styling – and well 5 bacon shots lead to ten lead to 50! and we have a cool book to try to sell- It was turned down 34 times (the bacon trend is over!) before some thought wow great book lets publish- Now we are in second printing in the second month of publication.
So there’s really never a wrong time of day to eat bacon?
Armstrong: There is no wrong time for bacon — it is a soothing food — the salty sweet has a calming effect and in today’s life that is like crack; a legal crack!
Were there any recipes that didn’t make it in the book? If so, what are they?
Theresa Gilliam: Early on we had some recipes with slow-roasted pork belly and a couple using pancetta, but we decided that we really needed to stay focused on American bacon because that was our star ingredient and our inspiration.
Why do people love bacon so much?
Gilliam: I think the introduction of the book says it most poetically.
Armstrong: Bacon is home, it is a safe flavor for childhood and well…it is also a common decadence that is cheap and easy to access…
What is your most favorite recipe in the book and why?
Gilliam: I don’t really have a favorite recipe because I am very proud of all of them but I do love the Bacon Cheddar Biscuits together with the Bacon Red-eye Gravy. Also I think the most surprising combination is the Bacon Baklava.
Armstrong: Hands down Fatso Corn Bread – hot with butter and a beer….
What’s the strangest way you’ve seen bacon used in a recipe?
Gilliam: We use it in some unusual applications in our book. But what I think is really strange is limp and soggy bacon. It has to be crispy.
What should people look for when shopping for bacon?
Gilliam: As far as thick, thin, or flavors go you should buy whatever you like but always go for quality over price. Most quality butchers have their own in-house bacon and it is often so much better than what is pre-packaged in the grocery store. Branch out.
What’s the best way to enjoy it?
Gilliam: Any way in Bacon 24/Seven!
Armstrong: I just think any way you can get bacon into a recipe is a good way; it adds such depth to everything- smoky, sweet, and salty.
What tip would you give to people who are attempting to cure and smoke their own bacon at home for the first time?
Gilliam: I think the key is to have fun with it. Experiment with flavors. Add more sweetness or spice and make it your own. It is a labor of love and there are a lot of variables in every step. However, don’t get discouraged. This is a culinary adventure. A good probe thermometer will be your best friend. If the bacon comes out a little too salty, which sometimes happens, don’t despair. Use it for candied bacon or blanch the bacon in boiling water for a minute or two and let it dry out. That should pull out some of the saltiness.
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