Monday, August 4, 2008

Canadian Bacon with Apples and Red Wine

Marian & Nino Tracy have lots of ideas, and they're not afraid to share them. In the introduction to Casserole Cookery: One-Dish Meals for the Busy Gourmet, they discuss the proper equipment for cooking and serving casseroles.
We use several sizes of earthenware casseroles, both French and Mexican types. The French type with the cover and a long handle works very well. We have a low one for most dishes and a deep one for the very bulky recipes. A very shallow one, a sort of earthenware pie plate, is necessary for some seafood casseroles. We also use individual Mexican casseroles with lids when the spirit moves us.

Casseroles look best with simple china and linens in robust colors. Nothing thin or dainty will do. We use tablecloths made of gaily striped percales, mattress ticking, or checked gingham, which we sew together out of lengths of material bought chiefly for design and color. Cork mats are practical because the food is usually really hot. For buffet suppers a set of trays in a good clear color with not mats, plain contrasting china, and individual casseroles are attractive. Gaily figured glasses from the five-and-ten-cent store are good if your breakage is high. Serve simply. The casserole itself will appreciate this and so probably will your friends.

So, we're called to set cheerful places, folks. I have never sewn my own table linens, but have been known to press pretty sheets or duvet covers at tablecloths in a pinch. I'm a big fan of mismatched colors on a table, and have casseroles in any number of crayon colors. My basic china is white, with accent pieces with a dark blue rim; it pretty much goes with anything and calls out for yummy casseroles, stews, and the like. Like, this one:
Canadian Bacon with Apples and Red Wine

Time: 45 min.

1 lb. Canadian bacon
1 No. 2 can sweet potatoes
4 large cooking apples or 1 No. 2 can sliced pie apples
1 cup red wine -- claret would be best
2 tablespoons brown sugar
grated peel of 1/2 lemon
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper

Core, peel, and slice apples. Frizzle the bacon a few minutes. Place sweet potatoes on bottom of low buttered casserole. Arrange apple slices in layer above sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, grated lemon peel, salt and pepper, and go easy on the salt because the bacon is quite salty. Top with a neatly arranged layer of bacon and pour in the wine. Bake in a medium oven (350°) for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

Canadian bacon with apples and red wine
Salad: Mixed greens (water cress, chicory, endive, and a little chopped parsley, for instance) with French dressing (2 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar, pinch of thyme, pinch of marjoram, and, of course, salt and pepper)
Hot buttermilk biscuits (prepared ones that come in tubes)

When we say claret would be best, we expect controversy. So use waht you prefer, but don't blame us if it fizzles.

Aaaah, old cookbooks! Casserole Cookery often uses canned ingredients, and refers to them by the can size number, not by ounces. So, what's a good casserole cook to do? Look up the info from a handy dandy Extension service! University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a cheat sheet for can sizes; you'll need about 2 1/2 cups of cooked sweet potatoes for this recipe.

Full disclosure: I'm the daughter of a former Extension agent, and the sister of an Extension secretary. Of course, even if I weren't, I'd send you their way for information galore -- I adore Extension. (Go, 4H!)

If you're not British, you might be unsure about the term "claret." Yes, yes, it's red wine, but more specifically, it's a Bordeaux-style wine. If you don't want to splash out for French wine in this dish (though, really, you can get some yummy ones for not much money), look for a wine with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and/or Carmenere. Or, ask your wine guy or wine gal to point you towards a Bordeaux-style blend.

And, in the "learn something new every day" category: frizzle is a real, honest-to-goodness word. It means to cook with a sizzling sound, or cook until crispy and curled. Not too surprising, once you accept the word as real, one finds that it actually came from mashing up the words "fry" and "sizzle." So...frizzle up some bacon, folks. And then smile at the Tracys, who ended their story with a rhyming word. Just because they could.

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