I like cole slaw, especially with pork. However, not everyone feels the same way, so I’ve had it on my mind to try to come up with something as an alternative to cole slaw.
The first thing that came to mind, I hate to admit, was an old Brady Bunch show, where Peter was having an identity crisis. He walked around trying to do a Bogart impersonation saying, “Pork chopsh and appleshaushe.” That’s right, I thought of apples!
But just plain old apples would be boring. What else goes with apples? You guess it… Bacon!
Ok, bacon goes with everything. But what else goes with apples??? Onion! It’s true, really!
The result of all this thinking was a hot apple bacon salad with onion jam. I paired it up with some smoked pork loin that I injected with apple butter. For one meal, I put it all on a plate, and for another, I made a panini with the combo. Both meals were proof that this is a pretty good salad!
To start, I cut 4 strips of bacon into lardons (rectangular pieces) and added to a cast iron pan over medium heat until the bacon was crispy.
The onion jam was simple, but man is it good stuff even on its own. I took a large onion, diced it and sweated it in half of the bacon fat until soft. I added to it a cup of pinot noir and reduced it down until almost all the liquid was gone. I added 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, then simmered the whole mess until it was a nice jam consistency. This would be good on just about anything!
I put the other half of the bacon fat in a pan and cooked four peeled and sliced Fuji apples. I took the apples off the heat when they got to the point where they were cooked but not mushy. Then I added the onion jam and bacon lardons, along with about 10 chiffonade cut spinach leaves.
I have to say I liked this salad! Is it perfect? Not yet. I’m going to try a couple of things: I’m going to add some cinnamon to some of the salad, and grilled fennel to some more of it, just to play around with the flavors. I may also try using molasses instead of honey in the onion jam.
The nice thing about the salad is that it’s not too sweet. The onion and bacon help keep it from going too far sweet, and it still serves well as a side dish. I think a pulled pork sandwich with a bit of apple bacon salad would be worth a try!
With the panini, I had to use a low tech method since I don’t have a panini press. I used a cast iron grill pan with a cast iron grill press. what’s cool about it is the press can be heated on the grill or stovetop and both sides can be cooked at the same time. Since it’s cast iron, it holds onto the heat really well. So who needs a fancy grill that takes up my precious counter space, Kathy??? (This I just my test to see if she’s reading at all )