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Thursday, 23 December 2010

Pigs in Blankets, With Bacon Rasher Crackling Curls

It’s not often I blog twice in a day, but as I was preparing these traditional Christmas Dinner treats this morning, I thought I’d dash off a quick recipe.  Due to an ordering error, the butcher had sent rind-on, rather than the rindless bacon I’d wanted for this recipe, and as I can’t bear to waste anything, I came up with a very simple and tasty idea for the bacon rinds.

You will need:
One or two small sausages/chipolatas per person, or more if you’re greedy.
One rasher of rind-on streaky bacon (smoked or otherwise, your choice) per two sausages – although if your sausages are long and the rashers short, one rasher per sausage.  Oh, just get plenty of bacon, you’ll be using it up elsewhere anyway.
A lightly oiled baking sheet or tray.

And for the crackling curls:
Oil for deep frying.

Using a sharp knife, remove the rinds from the bacon and reserve.  Working one rasher at a time, put the bacon flat on a board or your worktop, and stretch it by stroking and pulling it firmly with the back of your knife.  Cut each rasher in half.

Roll each sausage in half a bacon rasher, in a kind of diagonal spiral – it looks nice if you leave each end of the sausage sticking out, so don’t worry about trying to cover the whole thing.  Place each “pig in its blanket” on the baking sheet as it is prepared, with the loose end of the rasher underneath.

You can do this well in advance, and then refrigerate until needed.  On the day, put into your oven once you’ve got a bit of space: they will need 20 – 30 minutes, depending on the temperature you're set at, and will come to no harm if you have to rest them, due to needing oven space, in a warm place until ready to serve.  Or, you could grill or pan fry them, in which case they will need turning occasionally to make sure the bacon is properly crisp and the sausage piping hot throughout.

For the Bacon Rasher Crackling Curls: get your deep-fat fryer good and hot, and pop in the bacon rinds.  Careful, they will spit and pop.  After a few minutes, they will quieten down, and you will need to keep an eye on them.  A few minutes more, and they should be golden.  Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper, so they become dry and crispy.  They shouldn’t need any salt.

They will have curled up, and in some cases will resemble little pig’s tails: that will be good or bad, depending on whether you want to be reminded about where bacon comes from.

Wait for them to become completely cold, then put in an air-tight container, and serve them on Christmas Day arranged on top of your pigs in blankets, or as a taster with the pre-Dinner drinks.  Or eat them yourself, as a cook’s perk.

This will only work properly with good bacon; the real, traditionally cured, non-injected stuff.  The flabby, wet, pre-packed bacon will exude nasty white foamy gunk, which will ruin your pigs in blankets, and the rinds will never go crispy.

Although these are a traditional part of the Christmas meal, these little treats are lovely at any time of year, particularly as an accompaniment to poultry

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