Tonight I made Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner, using a bacon I’d purchased a few weeks ago at the St. Helena Farmers Market. When I bought it, the vendor said to cook it in the oven, not on the stove, because sugar in the cure will caramelize too quickly in a frying pan. I decided to follow his instructions although, in my tests, bacon cooked in an oven rarely if ever has the right “snap,” a quality I consider essential (especially for BLTs). But this bacon is pricey and so I wanted to see how his instructions held up.
I cooked it first for ten minutes, drained off most of the fat, and cooked it for another 9 minutes or so, and then set it on a brown page bag to drain. Then I took a bite. And then I went to a brand new place, a special place, a bacon heaven I did not know existed. I was transported and tempted to bow down to this new bacon god I had discovered. The bacon was perfectly crisp but there was something else. It certainly had snap but there was another dimension. After the snap, there was a secondary release, like a little explosion of a soufflé made of pure bacon.
The Carbonara was delicious, as it always is, but as I enjoyed bite after bite, I found myself wondering why bacon is never offered as a simple entrée. This bacon, from Contimo Provisions of Napa Valley, is, indeed, that good.