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Makin’ Bacon

I’m not actually a big fan of bacon. Yes, it was the one thing that caused me to fall off the wagon when I was a vegetarian, but that was more to do with the fact of it being 10pm on a cold April day in Ireland up a mountain and the choice of either eating the proffered bacon butty or going to bed hungry and chilled to the bone. I don’t actually remember the first time I ate bacon after stopped being veggie and I only buy it about twice a year.

A recent care package from the north stuffed with Porcus bacon and Bury black pud reminded me that it’s not bacon I don’t like, it’s cheap or mass produced bacon that doesn’t float my boat. So since I can’t get Mister North to pop to the post office every week with some rashers from the Porcus girls, I decided that I would try making my own bacon to see if I could tempt myself.

A quick Google search established that I wasn’t setting myself an impossible task. Basically I needed a hunk of pork belly, a surprisingly small amount of salt, saltpetre and some time. It sounded fairly simple and I was quite excited to get cracking. I went to Walters in Herne Hill and got him to cut me 1.8 kilos of pork belly into two pieces (including the bones) and skipped home to get curing.

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Haggis Stuffed Onions

I love Burns’ Night. Not only is it a welcome night of revelry in the grey gloom of January, it’s an excuse to enjoy the delights of haggis (and mash). Seen as plain food by some, I associate it with excitement and glamour thanks to childhood memories of our parents hosting Burns’ Suppers for friends. They’d dress up, the table would get laid with the good plates and the house would be full of laughter and clinking glasses and everyone having a good time. That association and the comedy flying haggis that sat on the mantlepiece all year round has given me a huge soft spot for the humble haggis.

I do try and eat it each January, but I’ve never cooked it for myself before as its usually too much for one person and I feel I’d be treading on Scottish toes to host a supper myself. So imagine my glee when on a recent trip to Walters Butchers in Herne Hill I espied a teeny tiny perfectly portioned haggis for sale. Feeling slightly in need of indulgence since it’s a dry January, I brought it home and plotted doing something slightly different to the normal haggis, neeps and tatties.

And unsurprisingly, I got the urge to stuff something with the haggis. But since I’ve already tried squid and cabbage leaves and tomatoes and a marrow and probably more I’ve forgotten, it seemed like I’d run out of things to stuff. Until I espied a big bag of onions in the farmers’ market. I’ve heard of such things as a stuffed onion but never eaten them. I decided they would be a good challenge.

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