Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bacon Cook-Off: Bacon & Pancetta Wot

Well, the Great Grapes Bacon Cook-Off is history, and it was a lot of fun! Kit Pollard, Kathy Patterson and I all flexed our bacon muscles for a crowd of dozens of hungry wine lovers, as well as three celebrity judges: WJZ's Bernadette Woods and Jessica Kartalija, and Hugh Sisson of Heavy Seas Beer and WYPR's Cellar Notes. I also got to serve my cook-off entry to my fellow competitors, Dara Bunjon, emcee Greg Nivens and a whole bunch of spectators.

My entry came in second place, which is fine. I went to enjoy myself (which I did)! And the judges said that there was really just a point or two of difference separating all three dishes: Kit's three BLT's and a bacon-infused Bloody Mary (ahem, Kit, I never got to try the Bloody Mary); Kathy's bacon banh mi, and my own Ethiopian-inspired bacon and pancetta wot with tomato and bacon salad. What inspired me to do something Ethiopian-style? Well, with substantial Muslim, Jewish and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian populations, Ethiopia does not feature a whole lot of bacon - or really any pork - in its cuisine. Nevertheless, I was curious to see how well bacon meshed with Ethiopian food. I was pleased with the result, as everyone seemed to be!

You can find the other recipes on Kit & Kathy's websites. Mine is below. Again, thanks to Dara and Greg, and to the audience, judges and of course, Kit & Kathy.

Bacon and Pancetta Wot with Tomato-Bacon Salad

Ingredients: Bacon and Pancetta Wot - Note: Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian spiced butter), Berbere (traditional Ethiopian spice mix which heavily features hot pepper) and Injera Bread (a large, spongy and sour-tangy pancake made from teff flour that you use instead of utensils to pick up your food) can all be found in Ethiopian markets, the closest of which are in the DC area. I made my own Niter Kibbeh but bought my Berbere and Injera Bread from Woder Ethiopian Carry-Out and Market in Silver Spring. There are markets throughout the DC area, many of which are in Silver Spring, Alexandria, Falls Church and various parts of DC. That said, many sources suggest making your own Berbere (which I did not do) and Niter Kibbeh (which I did. Recipe follows the Wot and Salad recipes). It is far more difficult to make your own Injera Bread, so it is best to find a market to buy it from. There are recipes online, but the bread won't exactly be the same.

1/8 cup Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian spiced butter) or ghee
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 slices ginger, cut into pieces and skin removed
3 tablespoons Berbere Spice Mix
3 tomatoes (preferably Romas), diced
6 slices bacon (I used uncured and thick-cut, but feel free to experiment with others, such as applewood smoked bacon or even maple flavored), cut into 1" pieces
4-5 slices pancetta, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 lb ground pork
salt and pepper to taste
Injera Bread

Put Niter Kibbeh in heated pan over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir fry for about 2 minutes, and then add the Berbere and tomatoes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the bacon, pancetta and ground pork (I chopped the bacon and pancetta after I put in the tomatoes, but you won't be working with a time limit so pre-prep to your heart's content) and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Serve with Tomato-Bacon Salad on Injera Bread. Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients: Tomato-Bacon Salad - Note: I made less of this for the competition than I liked, so here's a version that will serve 4 to 6 people.

1 tablespoon Berbere
1 tablespoon Niter Kibbeh or ghee
2 -3 slices bacon
4 tomatoes (preferably Romas), diced
1/4 medium yellow onion, or 2 green onions (green and white parts included), chopped
3-4 slices ginger, chopped and skins removed
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 chilies (preferably Thai, Serrano or jalapeño), chopped and (unless you're like me and you like the heat) seeded and de-veined
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Fry bacon sprinkled with Berbere in Niter Kibbeh until crispy enough to crumble, and set aside to drain. Mix all other ingredients together and let sit for a few minutes. Crumble the bacon into the salad. Serve on Injera Bread.

Again, it is probably easier to make your own Niter Kibbeh and Berbere. When I did a test run of the recipe, I made a Berbere spice mix of my own based off of one I found online. I did not use that one during the cook-off, but I think I liked the one I made better. As for the Niter Kibbeh, I made my own based on ingredients from various recipes I found online. Using Julie Sahni's tried and true microwave ghee recipe, I made my own microwave Niter Kibbeh

Ingredients: Microwave Niter Kibbeh - Note: you will also need cheesecloth or a fine strainer for this recipe.

1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 slices ginger
1/2 tablespoon cloves
1 teaspoon of each of the following:
turmeric, ground
basil, dried
cardamom seeds
cinnamon, ground
methi seeds (aka fenugreek, easily found in any Indian or Pakistani market)

Melt butter in large uncovered microwave safe dish for 1 minute, and add the other ingredients. Cover the dish and microwave for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave. Watch it carefully to make sure it doesn't overflow, or you will be cleaning melted butter out of the bottom of your microwave. Strain into a dish, making sure all solids are removed. May be stored at room temperature.


Anonymous said...

I was the woman in the front row at Great Grapes who asked about bacon desserts. You can find the recipe for bacon fudge on NPR's website by searching for "Bacon Gets Its Just Desserts." Thanks for sharing your creation and the recipe. I also make my own Berbere, so I'm glad to have a new recipe in which to use it! -Rachel

John said...

Thanks Rachel - and thanks for pointing me towards the bacon desserts on NPR's website!

Kit Pollard said...

John - you are welcome to stop by for a bacon Bloody ANYTIME! Honestly, I'm just glad those drinks made it to the judges. I really wasn't sure I'd finish.

Thanks for getting your recipe up so quickly. I have never even been to Dukem, and I am totally unfamiliar with Ethiopian flavors -by the end of the cookoff, I was too jittery to eat much of yours, but I loved the flavor.

And Rachel - thanks from me, too! On Sat night, someone told me about a white chocolate and bacon milkshake they'd heard about. Sounds good to me...

John said...

I'm just teasing - but I'll take you up on that Bloody Mary :)

Do go to Dukem!!! But remember there won't be any pork there at all, since Ethiopians just can't eat it for religious reasons. Which is what makes my recipe so strange.

Excuse me - white chocolate and bacon milkshake??? Who needs sex? OMG did I just say that?

theminx said...

Your dish was delish, John. You really do have a way with unusual ethnic cuisines. Especially when you pork them up. :)

For those folks who might be intimidated by making their own injera (not to mention sourcing teff locally) or driving to S.S. to buy some, I think this dish would be just lovely with some plain basmati or jasmine rice.

So...when are we meeting at Kit's for cocktails?

John said...

Thanks! And since the inclusion of pork automatically makes it not "authentic" Ethiopian, why not eat it with basmati rice?

Mmmm, bacon cocktail.