Bacon, drumming, and patience

Cooking bacon takes patience.  The other night I cooked the perfect batch of bacon…crispy, brown, and delicious.  I like to fry my bacon.  I’ve tried baking it and it just doesn’t do it for me.  For me, there is a meditative quality standing at the stove and nursing strips of raw pork into delectable strips of love.  And I discovered something I always suspected: frying bacon takes patience.  I have burned so many strips of pork in my life due to impatience and high heat.  Not to mention leaving the stove to check on a phone call, look at the mail, or any number of unnecessary distractions.  The bacon needs all of my attention.  The whole time.  And the other night, with my daughter looking on, I cooked 15 pieces of perfectly fried bacon.  And our BLT burritos were some of the best I’ve ever had.  Simple–bacon, lettuce from our garden, and roma tomatoes, mayonnaise, and pepper, wrapped up in a flower tortilla.

So, I use a #10 iron skillet (bought for me by my buddy’s wife at a flea market).  I make sure to have a non-plastic container to pour the grease into (yes, the fact the it’s non-plastic was a learning experience from a while ago), glass or metal container that I keep in the freezer to use later with green beans.  When that container is full, I use a coffee mug and then mix the grease (once it cools) with water–the dog loves it on his food.   I let the skillet heat up on medium.  I place 4 strips at a time, using tongs (or the “clapping spatula” as my son calls them) to flip them every couple of minutes.  I may dance to a rhumba while standing there, much to the delight (or dismay) of innocent bystanders.  But my focus remains on the bacon.  Once the bacon is browned, I move it to a cloth-covered plate next to the skillet.  Repeat until all bacon is cooked.

What does this have to do with drumming?  Not sure.  I once had the privilege of hanging out with Clyde Stubblefield when he was in town with Michael Feldman’s “Whad’Ya Know.”  He needed some drum hardware, and I was lucky enough to get the call to supply him with said hardware.  (Thanks, A.W.).  We ate barbecue and talked about jazz, drumming, and life.  He was the consummate gentleman.  Later that evening, the “Whad’Ya Know” trio played at the old Prism coffeehouse.  He was blistering.  As we drove around Charlottesville, I thought to myself, “I am with Clyde STUBBLEFIELD!  I need to capitalize on this opportunity.”  So I asked him, “Clyde, if you could tell me one thing about playing the drums, what would it be?”  He thought about this for a few minutes and then said,

“Be a chef.”

More later.

2 Responses to “Bacon, drumming, and patience”

  1. Matt Singleton Says:

    Indeed, making music requires the patience and skill of a chef. Too much seasoning, and it will be overwhelming. Not enough, and it will be bland and tasteless. A lot of the time, it not which ingredients you use, but which ones you don’t.

    Enjoy your bacon.

  2. Haywood Says:

    Another bacon connoisseur! Yes, bacon is tough to do right and like you, I gave up on baking bacon… It takes too long!!

    One other thing that I found to work great is to leave all the melted fat/grease in the pan to cook with the bacon. I’ve seen folks drain all the fat off as it melted and try to fry the bacon on a dry pan…Ugh! It doesn’t finish as nice nor taste as good. Besides, you can pat dry your bacon and drain the fat off before you eat it… and if you’re that concerned about the fat — don’t eat bacon!!


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