The dish on bacon

BY DI STAFF | FEBRUARY 05, 2015 5:00 AM

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Iowa City chef and owner of the Motley Cow David Wieseneck discusses one of his favorite flavors.

Q: Why do you work with bacon?

A: It’s great because it’s so whimsical. It’s one of the most familiar ingredients to everyone, but there are all kinds of ways to use it you wouldn’t otherwise think of. 

Q: What are some great bacon recipes?

A: We feature it in all kinds of places on our menu. Our dinner-time hamburger is topped with bacon, caramelized onions, aged cheddar, and homemade pickles. The combination of the sweet of the onion and smokiness of the bacon is phenomenal.

I dice it up to season all kinds of things including pastas. I pair with fettuccini and lots of Brussels sprouts and also mix it into risotto. It’s a great way to add meat flavor without adding a lot of meat, it’s so concentrated with flavor.

We’ve also done some desserts with it. This spring for our annual Mission Creek Festival dinner, we’re making a bacon short bread: little cookies seasoned with bacon and ice cream on the side. It adds a sweet and salty combination to what could otherwise be a traditional dessert.

Q: Where’s the best place in Iowa City to buy bacon?

A: My favorite bacon comes from Lois Pavelka at the Farmers’ Market. It’s always fresh, and the pigs are raised well. Her farm is Pavelka’s Point near Solon.

Q: Why do you think bacon has such a large fan following?

A: People talk about that magical combination of salt, fat, and sweet, and bacon kind of has all those elements. Then there’s something unidentifiable that comes with a lot of meat. It fulfills the receptor umami [Japanese for “pleasant savory taste”], which is one of the tastes on the tongue. 

All I know is, every vegetarian I’ve ever known says their weakness has always come down to bacon, and if they lapse, bacon is always the place to do it. 

— by Emma McClatchey

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