Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tempura Fried Bacon With Chipotle Aioli

I think this was an Esquire article from Ted Allen.

As we all know, healthy eating is all about moderation. That is why, when I’m enjoying deep-fried bacon, I limit myself strictly to two slices. Per meal. No exceptions.

That’s right, bacon tempura: the impossible goodness of pork belly made even more impossibly good with a delicate breading and a bath in sizzling-hot canola. This dish, the handiwork of Chef Bill McDaniel, is just one reason the Red Cat is my new favorite restaurant in Manhattan. (This always-packed Chelsea joint has been drawing particular raves lately, and the last two dinners I’ve had there have been my most exciting food experiences of the past year.)

But back to the bacon: “It actually started almost as a lark,” says the Chef. “I was talking with one of our hostesses one day, and she said, “What’s better than bacon?” And I said, joking, ‘I don’t know that there’s anything better than bacon – except, maybe, fried bacon.’ The next morning I walked in and I knew what I wanted to make.”

It’s ridiculous to say, but McDaniel’s decadent approach can be described only as light. It’s fluffy-crispy, probably because he makes the batter with club soda; imagine a perfect French fry with bacon stuffed inside. The two strips rest atop a nutrient-rich salad of grilled corn, sugar snap peas, and chipotle aioli. Says McDaniel: “It was off the menu for a while and people started coming in almost angry that we didn’t have it.” And rightly so!

Chipotle Aioli

2 egg yolks

Juice of 4 limes

4 oz canola oil

1 chipotle chopped very fine

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend yolks and lime juice together in a food processor, slowly add oil until thickened.

Stir in chopped chipotle and salt and pepper.

Bacon Tempura

4 egg whites

3 cups all purpose flour

2 1/3 cups cold club soda

½ gallon canola oil

12 pieces thick-sliced apple wood bacon

Salt to taste

In a large bowl whip egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold into egg whites the flour and the club soda. In a 4-qt. Pot heat oil to 425 degrees. Batter the bacon slices and carefully drop into hot oil a few slices at a time. Do not overcrowd oil as it will overflow and bacon will cook unevenly. Once the bacon is golden brown, remove from oil using a slotted spoon, lightly salt.

Serve 2 slices fried bacon onto of about 2 oz of grilled corn or other seasonal salad garnished with chipotle aioli and 2 lime wedges.

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