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Blanching Bacon

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Doing beef bourguignon tonight. I realize that lardons aren't really necessary anymore because modern beef is a lot fattier but I want to stick with the classic recipe and get that hint of pork flavor into the stew. I have some particularly smokey bacon (Nueske's) and many recipes (inculding Julias) call for blanching the bacon to remove some of the smoke/salt. I tested the process this morning and then subsequently ate the bacon with my breakfast. It is definitely less smoky/salty but still has some discernible smoke flavor.

My questions are:
1. Will blanching longer continue to reduce the smoke flavor?
2. Is there a good substitute for the bacon? I don't think pancetta makes sense because it's seasoned and I don't want that.
3. Do you omit the bacon entirely? Is it purely sentimental at this point?

Thanks!

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  1. Have not had the bacon you mentioned but I'd Just use the bacon as is. The wine is going to be the dominant flavor in the dish anyway.

    1. If I recall, when I did Julia's recipe, I used salt pork and blanched to remove the salt. Since salt pork is not smoked, this gets around the smoke issue, nicely.

      I found it, tucked up in a corner of the pork section...not the bacon/sausage section...of a largish mainstream grocery store.

      Best of luck,

      1. Nueske's bacon has a lot of smoke on it. I can understand why you might want to lessen it for your dish. I can't advise about blanching, but when I need lardons, these days I use either pork jowl or salt pork. Both of these products are available at our local Publix store packaged in short, bacon-like strips. I prefer them to bacon in a number of recipes.

        1. At my house smoky flavor is a good thing, so I don't try and remove it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rasputina

            *nodding*

          2. I need to treat it or omit it entirely. I've done the dish before (with poor quality wine and the same bacon) and the smoke flavor is overwhelming. I have a really good, sweet pinot noir to use this time and I want it to show through. I'll look for salt pork I guess. Maybe I'll blanch a bunch of bacon (i have plenty) and see what 5-10-15 minutes etc does.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Wapptor

              is it possible to simply purchase a different brand of bacon for this?

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Probably. You guys are so helpful I love these instant replies! :P

            2. Fascinating. Blanched a piece of bacon for 5/10/15 minutes apiece, then cooked in frying pan (washed between each piece to remove the grease) and taste tested each piece broken in half with and without salt. 5 minute blanch leaves a bit of smoke. 10 minute blanch almost none. 15 minutes and the bacon is kind of destroyed. You lose a lot of the salt too but I tried the blanched/cooked bacon with and without salt and the flavor is definitely improved. Interesting experiment!

              1. I think Julia at some point said that blanching bacon was not necessary.... or maybe i'm thinking about clarifying butter. whichever it was, i'm not doing either of em....!

                1 Reply
                1. re: eLizard

                  I mean I don't think you HAVE to do it. But if you don't want the bacon to overpower the other flavors (which it is wont to do) then it seems like a valid and relatively easy procedure. Bacon is great but my main concern over using bacon in ANYTHING is that it often makes the whole dish taste like bacon. Which IMO is one note and overdone.

                2. Personally, I have no problem using diced pancetta, I use this all the time as a substitute. However, if you are looking for an alternative. Go to your local Asian grocery and get a piece of pork belly. This is essentially what lardons are made from.