Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Bacon" and "Steak" - Great Taste, Surprising Ingredients!

Dear Folks,

I've been playing with my food again!

A recipe for "eggplant bacon" caught my eye a couple of weeks ago and low and behold my beautiful eggplants are finally producing.  My favorite "Casper" the white eggplant and another heirloom which is new-to-me "Listada de Grandia" (from Spain).  Just gorgeous - don't you agree?

Both of these lovely fruit are less seedy and sweeter than the big Italian variety.  I've grown the Casper for years and I am now adding the Listada as a regular member of my garden.

One of the many great things about eggplant is its "meat" like taste, so the "bacon" concept seemly like a great recipe to try.

I looked at quite a few recipes, many or most of them were Vegan, and called for good, but not necessarily easily found ingredients.  So I adapted the idea to the ingredients I used for overall convenience.

Almost all of the recipes called for the eggplants to be sliced length-wise and I chose to do rounds.  I will go with the long slices next time for sure.

Marinating longer will give greater flavor and any unused marinade can be stored in the refrigerator as you would a salad dressing.  I've got more eggplants ready so I will be making up another batch in the next couple of days.

These are addictive!!!  The taste and texture are meaty like bacon with many of the flavors you expect from a maple/smoked bacon.  A real winner and a "keeper" as Deane and I like to say.

My Eggplant "Bacon"

Marinade: (makes a 1/2 cup)
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) soy
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) liquid Hickory Smoke

Eggplants, cap trimmed off and sliced about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  A mandolin will make the slices even.

A ziplock bag works well for this.  The 2 eggplant made about a cup and half of slices, the marinade would easily cover 4 cups.  Fully zip the bag and lay on its side to marinate, turning once or twice.

Pre-heat oven to 325**

Slice eggplant and marinate for at least 20 minutes or longer.  Reserve left over marinade for another time.

Drain (reserve marinade) spread out on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (or parchment paper).

Bake for approximately 25-35 minutes, flipping the slices about half way through.  You are looking for crispy but not burnt.

**  I made this batch at 375 and baked for about 22 minutes but the center pieces wanted to burn, so I am recommending lower temperature for longer baking. (Low and Slow).

As I said - addictive!!

Next Up "Venison Ground Steak"

Several Years ago I wrote about "Emergency Steak" a recipe out of World War II during the rationing days, when the cooking shows on the radio (yes there were cooking shows then), talked about trying to give your family a "steak" without that specific meat available.

Most folks probably know this as "Hamburger Steak" or "Chopped Steak".  Unlike a hamburger or a meatloaf the aim was to have a "not ground" solid steak-like texture, so the idea was to create a large flat 'patty', which was not "over-worked" or over-cooked.

Deane was gifted with some venison from a friend the other day and some of it was already thawing when he got home so I had to put my "cooking" hat on quickly.

Venison, if you are not used to cooking with it, is extremely lean and needs "help" so it does not overcook and turn into shoe-leather.

At the same time for safety concerns I do not go 'rare' when cooking Venison as we might when doing hamburgers or steak with grass-fed beef.

So I opted for a Venison Ground Steak.

I frequently use a grated potato in my burgers etc. to compensate for low fat - the potato helps keep the meat moist while baking or grilling.

"Venison Ground Steak"

1 pound of ground venison
onion, celery leaf, rosemary, garlic, ground black pepper (portioned to the amount of meat, so you can adjust up or down)
Potato, small to medium size
1/3 cup of finely grated Parmesan Cheese

We grilled this, but it can be done in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Arrange grill for direct heat.

Take a piece of aluminum foil and punch 6 or more holes in it.

Scrub potato, leave peel on,  and grate.  It is best to use a smaller grate than appears in the picture [the fork is to show size]  (I was multitasking that day and already stuck the smaller grate in the soapy water and was running out of time :-)

Sprinkle the meat with the seasonings, then the cheese and then the potato and gently work in by folding several times.

Lay out on the aluminum foil in a flat patty about 3/4 - 1 inch thick.

Place foil/meat on the grill, cover and check at 10 minutes.  If cooked through it is done.  Don't over cook.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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