15 February 2011

Manuka Bacon, Apple & Goat's Cheese Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing

February marked the start of my Charcutepalooza adventure.  Charcutepalooza is a year long challenge, a year of meat, cooked up by Mrs Wheelbarrow and the Yummy Mummy.  It is a celebration of charcuterie and I am looking forward to mastering salting, smoking and curing skills, with the help of Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman.  I highly recommend it for the bacon making recipe alone! I missed the January challenge of duck prosciutto but will pick that up later as little too hot and humid here in Auckland at present to be hanging meat, actually sweltering. I need some cooler climes to avoid any potential health hazards!

So the February challenge was bacon.  All that was required a little pink salt, herbs and flavourings of choice and a zip lock bag...yes as easy as that.  Well, easy once you have located pink salt, and not the Himalayan pink variety, (thanks everyone that responded to tweets and calls for help to locate some) but salt with sodium nitrite to banish bacteria and preserve the colour of the meat.  A local butcher came to my assistance with the pink salt and large slab of pork belly.

I couldn't decide between sweet and savoury so in the end I made a batch of each.  My penchant for having a little of everything.  For the sweet maple syrup would be the classic but I felt the need for a little Kiwi infusion and rubbed one all over with a generous dollop of manuka honey and salt.  For the savoury a combination of garlic, bay, juniper berries and a black peppercorns.

My first memory of bacon is from my Gran, oddly enough most of my memories of my Gran revolve around food!  She was a lover of dark chocolate and of very good red wine.  Even at over 90 at a wine tasting she would always prefer the most expensive tipple on offer.  Her potato soup is legendary and sadly no one can seem to quite replicate it.  She also loved sausage rolls and a good pie.  She was also quite the glamour girl and always liked to look her best.  She definitely passed on the love of dark chocolate and red wine.  I only hope I can try to look as fabulous as my Gran as long as she did.

Many a summer holiday was spent on the Isle of Skye off the West coast of Scotland where my Gran ran a B&B. Once all the guest were fed we would get our very own bacon sandwich.  Toasted plain white bread, a lot of butter, (and I mean a lot, way beyond a good slathering, as my Gran was never one to scrimp on butter)and crispy fried bacon. To this day it is just such a comfort food for me, taking me back to those early summers spent at my Gran's.  Fantasy worlds created in the field next door, picking wild flowers, swimming in icy cold fresh water pools, wondering whether I would get to stay in the blue room or the pink room, being allowed to stay in the caravan which was like having our very own little home, and apparently some dressing up...

Me & my sister playing dress up.

Homemade bacon is a revelation and the first thing that had to be done was to have a bacon butty.  One of life's simple pleasures.  The freshest white bread, butter and crispy bacon.

The savoury bacon was meaty and the fat crisped to perfection.  The garlic, bay, juniper berries and black peppercorns delivering punches of such savoury flavour, quite unlike any bacon I have ever bought. Really, just so much more taste and texture, I don't think I will be buying bacon any time soon.

For the manuka cured bacon I came up with this little salad...

Manuka Bacon, Apple and Goat's Cheese Salad with a Honey Lemon 

This is a really simple salad the takes only as long as it takes to fry the bacon.  The first incarnation was with pear and little lardons of bacon, which was good but just not as good as it was with the crunchy tart apples freshly picked from a friend's garden and crispy shards of bacon.  The crispy shards allow the bacon to be the star of this little concoction.  The dressing started out with extra virgin olive oil and was more of a vinaigrette but it just wanted to overpower and quieten all the fresh bright flavours of the salad.  The honey lemon dressing is lighter and complements each layer of flavour in the salad. The honey coaxing out the manuka flavour in the bacon and the lemon adding a bright, light, lemony lift to the apple and goat's cheese that only lemon can. A little lemon zest would not go amiss here either.


2-3 rashers of bacon per person, cut into strips
olive oil
2 handfuls mixed salad leaves per person
1/2 an apple per person, sliced
1/4 cup goat's cheese per person

For the dressing
Equal parts honey and lemon


Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon over a medium heat until crisp.  Toss together the salad leaves, apple and bacon with a little of the dressing.  Just enough to lightly coat all the leaves.  Crumble the goat's cheese over the top and serve immediately.

Fresh and lively this salad deliver layers of flavour and texture.  Fresh, crisp lettuce, the bacon subtly infused with the manuka honey pairing with the bright, white, tangy soft goat's cheese.  Plus the tart crunch of a freshly picked apple and all bound together with the honey and lemon dressing, the honey lending a little sweet mellowness to the lemon but leaving behind a little citrus zing.

And March's challenge...well all is yet to be revealed...



  1. Your Gran was an absolute beauty! And that outfit...*sigh*

    Speaking of beauty, both your bacon variations sound wonderful, I'm really indecisive so probably would've done the same. Love the simplicity of the sandwich and the sexiness of the salad :)

  2. I really enjoyed this article and the recipe but would may be change the cheese as you know I do not like goats cheese.

  3. Great post Mairi:) Gran looks like a real glamour puss, the butter thing made me laugh, all of Dad's family have a wee bit of bread with their butter, cant blame the Scottish thing as they were Irish?! Will get into Charcutepalooza for March (late as always) but am feeling serious bacon angst, yours looks so fab! x

  4. That gorgeous photo of you and your sister - obviously you inherited your Gran's fabulous genes! The salad looks wonderful and something I could easily see myself making - if only I could say the same for homemade bacon (maybe I will have to try!!)

  5. Such an elegant & beautiful post! Of course the bacon is fabulous (mmm bacon butty), and the salad looks simple, fresh, and delicious, but the autobiographical bits are best: warm & charming, and wowsers: what an amazing gran! Thanks :-)

  6. Looks wonderful, Mairi - love your idea of using apple with the bacon - I never would have thought of that. And I really like your idea of using shards of bacon in your salad - I'm definitely trying that next time. Your honey lemon dressing is a great idea to amplify the manuka flavours in the bacon. All in all a fantastic salad and gorgeous bacon.

    Loved reading about your family too and what a gorgeous, glamorous Gran.

    Sue :-)

  7. @butchersapprentice thank you very much for your kind & thoughtful words & glad you liked.

    Sue, thanks - yes the apple gave it a really nice sharp, crisp, tartness. And Gran yes she was glamourous & awesome!

  8. Gorgeous post M - lovely memories of your childhood and fab Gran. I'm craving a bacon buttie of my own now!! Steph

  9. What a gourmet time we are going to have when we come to NZ. Lovely pics especially your Gran.

  10. Bacon butty is a must and your bacon does look amazing! Love the photo of your Gran, a B&B in Scotland would have been fantastic.

  11. You Grandmother looks very stylish indeed! What a fantastic photo!

  12. Wow. You are an inspiration. One day I hope to make bacon too.

  13. @bunnyeatsdesign...you must! Really as easy as putting everything in a zip lock bag :) And thanks for such a sweet comment - made my day!


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