There was a big dinner for my folks back in April, their 45th wedding anniversary. We ate at a local Italian restaurant (is the name “Marino” Italian enough?) and my brother and his fam, my clan, my Mom’s two sisters, her brother and his wife were there. Great time. At the end of the dinner, my uncle suggested getting together for Independence Day. Great! What’re we cooking? Well, how about a Bacon Roast?
The Bacon Roast tradition comes from my Dad’s side of the family. A combination of the Hungarian and Czechoslovakian in his parents brought this over from Europe. My Dad remembers having them when he was a kid, and I remember huge get-togethers when I was young. My Dad, brother Tony and I started them up again when my oldest was a young’un. So, needless to say we were excited and surprised to hear the suggestion come from the Italian side of the family.
In the meantime, we all traded emails about what we’d contribute. I was asked to bake a cheesecake, and I chose a Raspberry White Chocolate that I’ve done once before. I also found some roasting forks at a popular retail camping website. Pop and I used to go out to the woods, and cut branches, like he did in years past, and trim them and whittle the ends to points for cooking the bacon and onions. When the forks arrived, he deemed them perfect.
A few days before the 4th, my folks and I are hashing out details for the cookout. Mom’s picked up the bacon, and we’re all contributing toward sausage and onions from Fligner’s. She also explained that my Italian side of the family does their bacon roasts a little differently. Ok, um, how? Well, they cook all the bacon and then they share it.
That’s great. They can do that. But if I’m cooking bacon, I’m eating that bacon, and I ain’t sharin’ a frickin’ thing. Pop laughed and said the same thing, ‘my bacon is MY bacon.’ I love my family, cousins included. They are great people and I’m thrilled that we’re related. But a bacon roast is a bacon roast. I’d stab my brother in the hand with a fork if he tried stealing my bacon. Seriously.
Independence Day comes around, and to my Aunt’s we go. My daughter’s friend joined us, and she’s slowly becoming ‘another daughter’ in my family. So, here’s us around the fire that Kristen, Pop and I started.
Pop’s on the right, my cousin Kris in the back, and then Alainey, Kristen and son Mike coming around the circle. Doing it for the first time takes a little training, because while you know what bacon looks like when it’s ready to come out of the pan, it’s a little different when it’s a slab hunk of bacon, roasting on an open fire. And it takes some care to cut off what’s ‘cooked’, because it’s very hot. Duh.
Mike needed just a bit of help carving, and Kristen and Alainey were pretty much doing it for the first time. While I was helping them, my cousin Rocky sat down in my seat and asked to take over my slab for a bit so he could see what all the fuss was about. After a few minutes, and a small sandwich, he was hooked.
When I got my seat back, my uncle walked up to view the cooking and feasting, and after a bit, asked a question that could only have come from someone who’s never had bacon cooked over a fire. “Couldn’t you just cook this in a pan? Wouldn’t that be easier?” We shot him with an “Are you serious?” look. I cut a slice off of my slab and handed it up for him to taste.
“Wow. Yea, that’s good. Nope, definitely can’t get that from a pan.” Big smiles all around.
If I hadn’t mentioned it before, when you cook the bacon, as the fat melts off, you blot it with a slice of rye bread. The bread becomes pretty saturated as you go along, so if you’re watching your cholesterol, this might not be for you. For the once or twice a year, we just don’t care. It’s THAT good.
This is Pop’s plate. He likes to cook all of his and then enjoy. Mike and I like to carve some off and eat it while it’s still hot. Not that any of this bacon lost much heat in Sunday’s 90+ degree temperatures.
Kristen chose to follow in Pop’s technique, though she passed on the onion.
Once everyone had eaten, the desserts came out, and the cheesecake lasted about 8 minutes. A definite do-it-again recipe. As we relaxed in the air conditioning, Kristen and Alainey definitely want a seat around the fire at the next roast. Mike’s been hooked for a few years now. Pop and I are tickled that another generation wants to keep this going. And we’re looking at doing this at least one more time before the end of the year. Hopefully, when it’s a little cooler out.