Last night, on Twitter, I asserted that everyone should have bacon in their freezer all the time. And I meant it. Since we've started freezing bacon, the number of meals that we have on hand at any given moment has really expanded. If, as we did last night, we use the last of the frozen bacon, we will absolutely buy another pound at the grocery store on our next trip, even if we're not planning on making something with it immediately. Usually, we freeze it in small chunks of 5-6 slices (though sometimes depending on circumstances we'll freeze 7-8 slice chunk). I wrap each segment of slices in plastic wrap, twice. And then those wrapped pieces can go in one plastic freezer bag. There's always room for something so small and flat in the freezer.
And here's why we do it: because the number of meals that are improved or even just MADE with bacon is huge. Here are some of the things we do with it (and a little bit about each thing):
- bacon and egg sandwiches. We always always have eggs in the house too, because they're another "in-a-pinch" staple that you can use to throw meals together. Sometimes we plan on having bacon and eggs and buy frozen waffles to round out the meal. Very delicious.
- bacon-tomato sauce for pasta. There are three million ways to make this. We always have canned, crushed tomatoes on hand, and shallots on hand. 30 minute meal, for reals. You can even fancy this up and find a recipe for Amatriciana, which essentially uses red onion and bacon (recipes will call for guanciale, but you can use bacon) and tomatoes.
- tortellini en brodo. Of course, this requires more planning, because we don't always have tortellini on hand (though we usually do), and we never buy broth unless we're going to use it. Still, bacon adds a smoky wonderfulness to the broth, when we do make this.
- bacon-wrapped chicken. We don't make this very often, but it's a quick way to jazz up chicken.
- It's pretty easy to throw a meal of bacon/pea pasta together. With or without lemon or cream. You've gotta have frozen peas, but those are another staple that I try to keep on hand. (Also being one of the only vegetables Sam can tolerate mingling with other food.)
- If you're the type that does main dish salads, bacon thrown on top is quite a treat.
- Spinach salad. Also requires planning (we do NOT keep spinach on hand, though every other ingredient is a staple), but only requires 5 or so strips of bacon, so perfect. I have a nice recipe from my mom, and we often eat it with grilled chicken. Sam can actually eat spinach salad, because duh, it's drenched in bacony-fat goodness masquerading as dressing.
- and my favorite (and what prompted my tweet last night): Carbonara. There is simply nothing bad about carbonara, especially if you have a good long pasta to use. We loooove bucatini, but finding bucatini is somewhat of a chore. De Cecco makes it, and I'm going to order some from Amazon tonight. But we've been using fancy bucatini from Sur La Table (only possible because of Sam's discount), and that's not exactly sustainable. Anyway. Carbonara. Every single ingredient in it is a staple: long pasta of some sort, eggs, parmesan cheese, salt/pepper, and bacon. You can jazz it up with other hard cheeses (a handful of Romano would probably be delish) and you can add heavy cream (just a jot) to the egg mixture, but those things are unneccessary. If you've never made carbonara, it's easy. Cook 4-8 slices of bacon (chopped) in a skillet. Depends on how much pasta you're making. Or how much bacon you want to put on top of your finished pasta. At the same time, cook your long pasta. Separately, while those are cooking, whisk together 2-4 eggs (again depending on pasta amount; a half pound of pasta really only needs two eggs) with a LOT of grated parmesan. And salt and pepper. When the bacon is done, remove the cooked bacon from the fat (reserve to sprinkle on pasta when it's done). If you're using a half pound of pasta and 8 slices of bacon, you need to remove some of the bacon grease. I really can't give you an amount, because I do it by sight. It needs to be enough to coat your pasta, but not too much to make it greasy. Anyway. Turn off the heat. When the pasta is done, drain (but not too well) and pop it in the skillet with the bacon grease. Put it on low heat for maybe a minute? Coat the noodles, that's all you're trying to do. Remove it from the heat, and pour the egg mixture over. YOU ARE NOT COOKING THE EGG TRADITIONALLY. The egg is being cooked by the residual heat of the pasta and pan. It's going to be silky, hopefully. Dish out individual portions, and top with the reserved bacon and more grated/shredded cheese. Out of this world.
So now you're convinced. Go buy a pound of bacon. Freeze it.