Valentine's Day, and OH! My Aching Heart
By Anne Eden
By Anne Eden
Why, one might ask, should a girl as lucky in love as myself have an aching heart on Valentine's Day? The answer my friends is bacon fat. Sweet, sweet bacon fat.
My lucky, loving husband Blake and I spent Valentine's preparing a feast that we hoped would echo the excesses of our love for each other with an excesses of delicious-ness. I think we succeeded nicely, and I'm proud enough of the meal to share it with the world.
Feeling sentimental at the grocery store, Blake and I decided to re-create one of the tapas items served at our wedding. We settled upon the one dish so delicious that, by the time we were able to sit and enjoy a bite to eat at our reception, we shared the very last one (saved by the caterer and hidden in the back). What treat could cause wedding guests to devour an entire reception's supply in twenty minutes? Bacon-wrapped dates!
So for Valentine's, we prepared large dates by stuffing them with salted almonds and Amish blue cheese, then wrapped them lovingly in half strips of bacon. As we never got to enjoy these treats at the wedding, we decided to go for it and prepared six for each of us. Which means, of course, that as an appetizer we each ate a full serving of almonds, half a wedge of blue cheese, six dates, and three strips of bacon. We topped that off with a lovely Argentine Malbec, reasoning that as red wine is good for your heart, finishing the bottle would help balance the heart-healthiness of our meal.
Wandering into the kitchen, we found a lovely vat of bacon fat staring us in the face, begging to be used creatively.
Blake and I rose to the challenge. On the dinner menu were twice-baked mashed potato casserole, filet minon, seared baby tomatoes, and herb salad. Taking stock of our remaining ingredients, we decided that nothing takes filet minon from great to sublime like a bit of bacon fat. We seared our steaks in the pan, and then grilled them to medium rare. Now faced with a pan full of both bacon AND beef fat, we did the only reasonable thing possible. We used that yummy fat to fry up our baby tomatoes with garlic. We nestled each dish onto the plate, tucked up against an herb salad with sherry vinigrette.
The end result was a perfectly flavor-balanced meal, with each dish highlighting and complimenting the flavors of all of the others. The tang of the tomatoes against the creamy, cheesy potatoes made each bite of steak seem that much richer. The vinegary salad dressing cleared the palette and readied the mouth for the next bite. It was the kind of meal where each bite makes you moan "Oh, this is SO GOOD".
And, at the end of our meal, as I listened to my heart struggling against the saturated fat, the lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub of my heartbeat began to sound like love-love, love-love, love-love...
Ah, for an aching heart on Valentine's Day.