This simple dish is impossible to destroy and perfect for a frigid night; not at all bad for warmer ones either.
-about 2 lb slab bacon (in one piece)
-2 leeks, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
-a tomato, quartered
-about 4 parsley sprigs
-1 Tablespoon juniper berries
-½ teaspoon peppercorns
-2 bay leaves
-¾ cup white wine
Preheat the oven to 300°
- Trim the bacon of all visible surface fat; you will lose a fair amount of volume.
- Choose an oven pot with a cover that just holds the bacon; you want a concentrated stock so keep things snug. Fit everything but the wine around the bacon, then pour it into the pot and add water just to cover the meat if needed.
- Cover the pot and bake it on a rack in the top of the oven for an hour to an hour and a half, or until fork tender.
- Remove the bacon from the pot, skim any surface fat and strain the sauce.
- Always serve the bacon in thick slices with the stock and some mashed potatoes and fried apple slices.
Notes: Mrs. Grigson used an artisanal back bacon smoked in Bristol “with beech shavings (from the local coffin maker).” We do not have access to back bacon (or a coffin maker) but found that the double smoked slab bacon from Boar’s Head works fine: After trimming away the surface fat we did not find the finished dish at all greasy.
- As Mrs. Grigson notes, the stock is a wonderful base for pea soup.
- Always serve a white wine with the bacon, and not only because it goes into the pot. Smoked meats go better with whites, as any reasonable Alsatian or German will tell you.
- You could omit the tomato but it gives the stock a pretty pink tint, the acid cuts the sweetness of the fatty pork and its inclusion is by no means inauthentic; British cooks started using tomatoes in discernable amounts early in the nineteenth century. If you do omit the tomato, substitute either a little malt vinegar or some lemon juice and peel.