Announcing she had something for me, Karen cracked open the farmhouse freezer like a back-room safe. Standing before the frosty shelves piled high with butcher-wrapped bricks of meat, she rifled around a bit, searching for my presumed prize. The voice in my head was pleading, “Please let it be bacon, bacon, bacon!” The telepathic powers of pining for pork prevailed, and she handed me a chubby baton marked “bacon.” I began to tear up.
Karen knows I love a good BLT, and that this week I was trying to harvest every last ripe and near-ripe tomato slicer before the rains set in. And as an added bonus and a tip of the hat to autumn and my penchant for pies, this generous farmer added one more thing to my awaiting arms: a tub of leaf lard, the gold standard fat for making perfect pie crusts. (Swooning, I had to find a seat and fan myself.)
Frozen bacon cubes: out of the freezer and into the frying pan
After I finished slicing up the thawed bacon slab into strips, I had some chunky bits and pieces left. I decided to treat them as I do homemade pesto. By placing the uncooked bacon bits in an ice cube tray, I could freeze them in individual measures, ready to be dropped into a heated pan to flavor up a myriad of dishes, like wilted salad, green beans, soup, fried rice, or anything begging to be bathed in the smoky perfume of bacon.
To remove the frozen bacon from the ice cube tray, simply twist it as you would with ice cubes and the little bacon balls pop right out. Toss them all in a Zip-loc bag bound for the freezer and use them whenever a recipe calls for bacon bits or lardons or pancetta. Now don’t forget to wash the ice cube tray with hot soapy water; I can assure you while bacon is great flavor enhancement to many foods, iced tea is not one them.