The best bit about Sunday breakfasts when I was a kid were the bacon rinds, crisped and crozzled to a frazzle, which crunched satisfyingly between your teeth. And so it was when I had a family of my own. They would fight over the rinds.
Now you don’t get too many mentions of bacon rinds on food blogs or in cookery books but they are an underused resource. As with chicken giblets, you’d be hard-pressed to find any if you shop in supermarkets. Just as giblets have been “removed for your convenience,” according to the label, so bacon rashers have been trimmed for sale. I find their removal highly inconvenient. I want to save my bacon.
You don’t have to cut rinds off if you like your bacon crisp, although it helps to nick them every few inches to prevent curling, but I prefer the meat slightly underdone. I detach the rinds and heat them in the pan slowly to render the fat (too fast and everything burns) before adding the bacon. That way you need no oil.
And if you’re frying mushrooms a rind or two doesn’t go amiss for flavour although they won’t crisp because of the liquid from the fungi.
A bacon rind or two, cooked or uncooked, add flavour to a stew although be sure to fish them out later. I once crisped a batch of rinds, ground them to a powder and used it to flavour breadcrumb toppings but was unsure how long it would keep.
Food writer Matthew Fort likes to freeze rinds until he’s got enough then bake them at 180C until crisp, season and nibble them with a glass of sherry. Classy. And he’s got all that rendered fat left over. I’ve nicked the picture from his excellent blog, https://fortonfood.wordpress.com/
Crispy rinds are a halfway house to pork scratchings and just as good. Yet supermarkets and butchers are robbing us of the opportunity to enjoy a treat our grandmothers would have taken for granted.
*Rind on bacon used to be available from Kempka’s on Abbeydale Road, since closed and Konrad is now at Whirlow Hall Farm Shop. He may be there but the rinds are not. I would love to hear of butchers who offer this facility.