Surprisingly, I’m am not one to advocate using bacon to add flavor to vegetable dishes; bacon is precious, and in all honesty I think most vegetables don’t need the extra flavor boost. The whole bacon craze sometimes makes me roll my eyes— now don’t get me wrong–I love bacon, but there is so much more to love about the pig. In marketing our pork, one becomes keenly aware of how fashion and people’s preference don’t reflect that our farm animals come whole, with fat. Granted, there are more and more people who are excited about non-prime cuts but we are usually always low on bacon and this probably has a lot to do with the fact it’s so delicious but for this reason I view it as a precious commodity. Thankfully, I have discovered bacon ends.
Delicious bacon ends
Our butcher reserves the end pieces of our hickory smoked bacon in “bacon ends” packages that are cut into chucks, thick with fat but still possessing that wonderful, smokey flavor that makes bacon so magical. It’s become a favorite of mine and it’s wonderful in this pan roasted mushroom dish that is a delightful side dish, it’s especially good with roasted meats like a roast chicken or a beef roast because of it’s natural umami in the smoked bacon and mushrooms. It’s great for the Sunday dinner or a dinner party where you want to extend the protein for a large group.
mushrooms with the bacon ends before roasting
I picked up some wonderful local organic cremini mushrooms at Good Cheep Food in Delhi, NY but you can use any type of mushroom, whether it is foraged by you, wild, or even the white mushrooms that can be found in most supermarkets. I like to keep them whole as they do decrease in size and the whole mushrooms are so beautiful roasted. If you are roasting a chicken or beef roast just use the temperature you are using for the roast and place the mushrooms about 30 to 20 minutes before you are ready to eat.
Pan Roasted Mushrooms with Bacon Ends
- 1 pound mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth and trimmed
- 6-8 ounces bacon ends thickly cut
- fresh thyme
- sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
cast iron skillet or oven proof heavy bottomed skillet
- preheat the oven to 350, or keep oven temperature the same as your roast (350-425)
- using a damp cloth or paper towel, “wash” the mushrooms, cleaning them of dirt.
- trim the mushroom bottoms.
- Roughly chop the bacon ends.
- using a cast iron skillet, brown the bacon ends until the fat becomes crispy.
- add cleaned mushrooms and stir, making sure to coat the mushrooms with the bacon fat.
- season with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper and fresh thyme.
- place in oven in cast iron skillet.
- roast until the mushrooms are tender about 20-30 depending on temperature and mushroom size.
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