As luck would have it, I already had the lettuce growing in the garden, and had a couple of tomato plants from my mum, who had been given them by her friend. So I thought I would get it done nice and early. Then July happened, and August dissappeared into the ether. So I had missed it - till the entry date got extended. There still wasn't time to do it now, but they say if you want something done give it to a busy person.........
As I turned up once Micky was just curing a piece of loin for back bacon, and explained the difference between the dry curing they do and the brine curing. They learned both on the butchers course he did. With brine curing the bacon asborbs some of the brine so increases in volume and weight, hence the butcher or supermarket can charge more for it. Dry curing (with salt rubbed on direct) is far superior, but of course you lose a certain amount of weight. This is also why when you cook cheap bacon a watery goo comes out. When you cook the meadows' bacon it goes crispy because the water is taken out. I know which one I'd prefer. Their pigs are Berkshire/ Gloucester Old Spot cross - which is a great combination. Carol Webb breeds pure Berkshires and the meat is so gamey it's almost like wild boar and smallholders come from all aover the country for her weaners. The Meadows' cross breeds gives you the best of both worlds.
Fast forward 10 days to this morning, and it was time to open it up (below left) then dry it, and hang it by the fan for around an hour and half to dry it out (below middle) before sharpening the old knife and slicing it.
All through June, July and August the lettuce was going great guns. I'd planned on using rocket for this. Alas, as August went into September the lettuce was all going to seed and dying away, so I had to switch to plan B.
5 Eggs! Yes 5 eggs! I was reminded a couple of weeks ago it had been so long since I'd made brioche. And this week I picked up a bread book in Cooking: The Books by Eric Truille & Ursula Ferrigno, and the brioche there looked like it had to be made. Great book by the way. I'm picky - it has to be something I'm realistically going to use. I will at some point post the recipe - but it's already 1am.....
It started off quite moist - which is no bad thing (nothing worse than heavy bread), so I kneaded it with the pastry scraper rather than by hand until it came together (middle). Then left it to rise for 1 1/2 hours before rolling out into a rectangle. I'm quite a mustard fan, so I spread it liberally with wholegrain mustard before laying on the bacon rashers.
I sprinkled the (cooled) sauteed nettles onto and spread the dried tomatoes in a line, then rolled it like a swiss roll into a long rope. This was the cut into 15. You almost cut through, but leave it attached then twist the bread round so it opens up. At this point the bacon was raw - I wanted it to cook in the bread so all the flavour and juice would go through it was it cooked.
Nice to eat - even better to share. So I shared it with some of my neighbouring businesses. I'd emailed the Basepoint manager earlier to say I'd bring it over just before 5 so people could pick some up on there way out (normal people finish at 5pm I hear), and I tweeted Vivid too. Assistant Basepoint manager Mel was being supervised by her son who was the first to tuck in......
The brioche was a great choice of bread - rich and flaky. Got to make more of it.
Maple cured bacon - now there's a thing to try next.