World Chefs: Gilliam shows bacon's versatility in first book

Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:23pm EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bacon enriches any dish with a smoky richness, says chef Theresa Gilliam.

In her first cookbook, "Bacon 24/Seven," Gilliam puts her spin on familiar dishes with bacon such as breakfast biscuits and lunch sandwiches. She also shows the versatility of the salted and smoked meat by pairing it with a Bloody Mary, topping it on a cardamom cupcake or mixing it into baklava.

The 34-year-old American author and food stylist, who co-wrote the book with photographer E.J. Armstrong, also teaches readers how to cure and smoke bacon at home.

Gilliam, who was born in Chicago and now lives in Seattle, spoke to Reuters about her passion for bacon and how she cooked some 300 pounds (135 kg) of it for her book.

Q: Why did you focus on bacon for your first book?

A: That came from Jane (E.J. Armstrong). She came to me and really wanted to do a bacon book ... She asked me whether I would be interested, wanted to do the food styling and write the recipes and I said, "Absolutely, that sounds fantastic and everybody loves bacon even though there are other bacon books out there." We felt like there was room for one more book.

Q: What is your tip to cook American bacon?

A: In the book, there are three schools of thoughts: stove-top, conventional oven and microwave. Microwave is for convenience. To really cook your bacon properly, you want to use an oven or stove top. It's important that the pan or the oven be at room temperature before you put the bacon in. This keeps the bacon fat cooking slowly. It doesn't scorch it and maximizes the fat rendered out from the bacon.   Continued...