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Bacon Nation: 125 Irresistible Recipes Paperback – May 7, 2013

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Editorial Reviews Review

A Q&A with Authors Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama

What makes Bacon Nation different from other cookbooks?

Peter and I are both good home cooks, always looking for ingredients and techniques that help us improve a dish. Bacon Nation explores and celebrates the multiple and intense elements of bacon: salt, smoke, meatiness, sweetness, umami, and fat. We tried to release these flavors into classic dishes, to make, for example, a better risotto or tomato sauce, or to make something very different, such as our Bacon-Peanut Chocolate Toffee or our Bacon Jam.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
Bacon Edamame

Why will customers want to buy Bacon Nation if they're watching their weight?

Good question. We found that other bacon cookbooks and many recipes on the web take delight in combining huge amounts of bacon and cheese. We wanted to create a cookbook that showed that bacon and healthful cooking are not contradictory concepts. Using reasonable amounts of bacon, bacon fat, and olive oil in conjunction with other low-calorie, vitamin and protein-rich ingredients can be useful for dieters. Peter coined the term "flavor per calorie, " or FPC in his book Culinary Intelligence; a little bacon elevates and intensifies the flavors in a stew, soup, salad dressing, sauce, and so on. You enjoy the dish more and desire less food because you are more satisfied. A strip of bacon is less than 50% saturated fat and much of it is cooked off before the bacon is added as a seasoning ingredient.

What are some of your favorite recipes in the Bacon Nation?

That's a tough question for me because so many of these dishes feel like they are my favorites. In fact, we tested more than 150 dishes and tossed out recipes that didn't pass our taste test. I really like the Halibut Poached in Bacon with Baby Spinach and Creamer Potatoes because we make an elegant bacon broth in which to poach and flavor the fish and spinach. I love the Linguine with Cauliflower and Bacon Bread Crumbs where a mixture of sautéed cauliflower, cooked bacon, toasted bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese lends crunch and sharpness to linguine. The Bacon and Butternut Squash Galette makes an elegant party appetizer, and the Chocolate Peanut Bacon Toffee uses caramelized sugar to bind these three irresistible ingredients into what is for me the perfect candy.

Chocolate Peanut Bacon Toffee

Are there dishes in Bacon Nation appropriate to bring to a dinner party or pot luck supper?

That's easy. The Spiced Nuts with Bacon travel well and can be enjoyed throughout the party. The Curried Broccoli Salad with Bacon is perfect for an outdoor barbecue. The Bacon Brisket and Beer Chili is easily transported and reheated at your host's house. The Grilled Tomatoes Stuffed with Bacon, Basil and Blue Cheese can be finished on the grill at a friend's house. Many of the chicken dinner dishes can be prepared ahead, and then reheated on the stovetop before serving. The recipe for Bacon Jam, one of my very favorites in the book, makes a great gift to serve with assorted cheeses.

Do you have any advice when shopping for bacon?

Many people have the impression that all bacon is the same; it's not. We tested over 35 different types of bacon and recommend some of our favorites. When buying bacon, consider whether it was produced with free-range pork, whether it's cured or uncured, thick or regular sliced, smoked with a particular type of wood, sugar or seasoning. Our advice is to shop where you can find different brands to try. Many of the artisanal bacon producers are so small that you won't even find them in specialty markets; look online for these products. In the end, bacon produced with the best ingredients and the best pork, though it might cost you a little more, will reward your taste buds.

Bacon Swizzle Sticks

What are some of the most interesting ways bacon is used in Bacon Nation?

We discovered, for example, bacon boosts the flavor of store-bought chicken broth to make a better base for soups, sauces, and poaching fish. Bacon drippings add richness and moisture to many quick breads and muffins in the book. One of our recipes is a Bacon Swizzle Stick for stirring a Bloody Mary, which I've not seen anywhere else. We discovered that bacon is compatible with a number of herbs and spices; our Curried-Candied Bacon Slices make great finger-food for a cocktail party. When you bring them out, it makes for a good conversation starter!

Can you explain a couple of basic techniques that make cooking with bacon easy and enjoyable?

If you're cooking more slices of bacon than you can fit in a large skillet, lay the slices on the rack of a large roasting pan and bake them in a 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. The slices crisp nicely, remain flat, and you don't need to monitor them. If you're cooking 3 to 4 slices, use a cast-iron skillet and start them in a cold pan. Cook over medium heat and the important thing is to monitor the heat to keep the bacon sizzling without cooking so fast that it burns. Turn the slices over a few times so they brown evenly. Depending on variables like the bacon's thickness, number of slices in the pan, and how well you like it cooked, it should take 7 to 10 minutes. A splatter screen is a great tool to help keep the rendering fat in the pan and off your stove top.


BACON NATION by Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama, can be read as a cookbook or a manifesto, the culinary version of Robert Bly’s “Iron John.” Bacon is the double-down option for meat lovers. It is fatty. It is salty. It is wrong in every way, but it feels so right. It is, the authors argue, a national treasure: “To our way of thinking, bacon is the equal of pricey Périgord truffles, sybaritic Spanish saffron and conspicuously consumed Caspian caviar.” They go on to make a persuasive case in recipes that respect their prime ingredient and use it inventively. Their opening bid ― bacon slices twisted and cooked into crisp spirals, so they can be used as savory swizzle sticks for bloody marys. This is brilliant. The only question is, why did it take so long?

Kaminsky and Rama don’t just throw bacon at the wall to see if it sticks. They proceed judiciously, deploying it as flavor punctuation here, a condiment there and sometimes as a powerful equal partner, its role in their recipe for tournedos of beef wrapped in bacon and sage leaves. Bacon isn’t subtle, but it can be used discreetly. The bacon broth in their poached halibut recipe, for example, is an enveloping flavor atmosphere. Sometimes, in fact, the authors show too much delicacy. Their bacon, brisket and beer chili, a-hoppin’ and a-poppin’ with herbs and spices, is superior chili but a little shy in one department. It needs ― can it be? ― more bacon.

-The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761165827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761165828
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Autamme_dot_com on May 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
If you like meat you probably LOVE bacon. What a versatile cut of meat it is from perhaps the most noblest of animals.

The authors sum up bacon perfectly with the following phrase: "one of those flavour-packed, umami-rich, secret-weapon ingredients". A book like this will help even the most dedicated bacon-addict find something new and the initiated will find a totally new world is possibly being opened up to them. In what feels like a deceptively-small book, the authors have managed to cram in so much information, whether it is purchasing or cooking advice or ways to use bacon that you might not have previously considered. This reviewer was surprised, but not disgusted, to note even recipes for bacon as a dessert... yum !

This is not a book to read on an empty stomach. The great photography draws you in far too much for your (stomach's) own good. The text is engaging, informative and easy-going. This is a book you should, at least once, read through sequentially as you stand to miss so much otherwise. Where else might you read about using surplus bacon grease or fat to pop popcorn with? The book is written from a North American perspective so there might be some regional "linguistic differences" but at the end of the day bacon is bacon, no matter what you call it. The only danger with this book is that you might become a bit of a "bacon bore", dispensing pearls of wit and wisdom to the uninitiated within your social circle.

Some of the recipes might appear to be a bit contrived but they do show the versatility of the dish and the extent of the authors' imaginations. Bacon swizzle sticks? Bacon Jam? Although should one knock it until one has tried it?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By h. steve burnett on June 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm an organic farmer in upstate NY and bacon is part of my backbone. It's such a part of life here that bacon has become a background cliche. Then a book comes along that blows such new energy into an idea that I've forgotten everything I ever thought I knew about bacon. Forgotten and gone traveling through a wonderland of delicious, imaginative and right on recipes. Good food prep comes from good ideas. It's why I read cookbooks. The good ones teach and inspire. This one starts with an introduction that had me running to the frying pan.

But you can only go so far with the bacon you can get. There's other bacon out there you'll likely never taste. I'd love Marie Rama to get some of my pasture raised bacon that I've slow smoked in applewood from our orchards. The wood sugars are so caramelized into the bacon slabs that you eat it first with your eyes.

Rama has created some heaven on earth moments with her book. We all need more of them. 125 to be exact.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Nadel on May 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This weekend my husband and I had a small dinner party and decided to experiment with a few dishes from this new cookbook. Knowing there would be a bacon-loving crowd, we had a bacon theme and made 5 recipes from this extensive collection. First course was the warm spinach salad with bacon, shrimp and bell peppers, followed by the chicken canzanese with apple and bacon brussel sprout hash as a side dish. We also made the cheddar cheese and bacon biscuits. Dessert was a scrumptious dish -- caramelized pears and candied bacon chips. The only dish that was not memorable was the biscuits -- but this was my fault for leaving them in the oven just a bit too long. These recipes were creative and very doable. I wouldn't not say they were easy, but certainly manageable for those who like to cook. We loved our meal and can't wait to try more recipes from this great cookbook!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By eta on May 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i decided a few years back not to buy new cookbooks. the old ones are tried and true and i would stick with them. but now i have grandchildren and things have changed: they are so picky! a friend told me about the new cook book, Bacon Nation. i bought it since we all love bacon, even the grandchildren. i have already succeeded with them by making "french toast bread pudding". for supper i made lentil and bacon soup. my husband loved it so much he took the dishes to the dishwasher.
the recipes are clear with numbered steps and big color photos. i appreciate the tips on bacon storage, thickness and variety. etc. it is a good read as well by cooks i recognize as having gotten their savvy from years of being in-the-trenches providing daily family meals.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Esther Vosburgh on May 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought Bacon Nation because I love bacon and I was also curious to see what recipes I could create using it. The first dish I made was the Shrimp and Bacon Risotto with Spinach. The flavors melded together beautifully and the bacon was not over powering. The instructions were easy to follow and the portion size was accurate. The pictures in the book are a nice touch so you can see what the dish should look like. I also have made the grilled tomatoes with bacon, basil and blue cheese. They were excellent! Several of my friends have bought this book and also love the recipes. The book has an array of recipes ranging from appetizers, soups, main entrees and desserts. I plan to make one new recipe a week so I can try them all! It's a great book to add to your collection.
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