What do Police dogs and the Amish have in common? A pretty good SAT word, and a vague connection to today’s recipe. If you don’t want to go on our little rumschpringe (and no, that’s not the word), jump straight to the recipe here. For the rest of us, let’s get on our suspenders and hop in the Horse-Drawn carriages.
Alsatian Hall is an anagram for “All Hail Satan”
And Title Jon had to go and give the joke away. Yes, the word “Alsatian” is the connecting point between police dogs and the Amish. The commonly used German Shepherd breed is also called the “Alsatian”, meaning “from Alsace”, and the Amish church arose from a schism among Alsatian Anabaptists.
You may be wondering “Well, Jon, that was a vaguely interesting but ultimately useless piece of trivia, why do you bring it up?” To which, in one-on-one interaction, I’d look at you owlishly, a faint sense of confusion on my face, before I hesitantly asked “Is this not how normal conversation works? You tell me something useless but perhaps faintly interesting, like what you did today, and I do as well?” This lack of a fundamental understanding of human interaction is likely attributable to- Good lord I sound like a psychology paper. Bored now, changing topic.
Stop me if I start to make sense, alright?
I’ve always been moderately fond of Anabaptist movements like the Amish. Say what you will about how silly they look, but they have some nice foundational ideas: don’t baptize someone until they’re basically an adult, because a child isn’t wise enough to make the call to follow the arduous path to being closer to God. And as a man who grew up with two brothers, I can tell you: kids are dumb as hell. My brothers and I once played a game literally named “Which bathroom chemicals catch fire?” The Amish are super understanding parents in terms of tolerating teenagers. Your mom gets upset because you forget to take your shoes off in the house? They let their kids go around violating fundamental precepts of their faith. “Well, honey, you know me and your father think internal combustion engines are the tools of Satan, but hey, you’ll come to your own conclusions. Be safe on that motorcycle.” That’s a level of chill that’s hard to match.
Now, as you might have guessed, today’s recipe comes from the Amish. Except it doesn’t. It comes from a cookbook my grandmother gave to me titled “Amish Cooking” that has basically nothing to do with Amish culture. Like, this book makes no mention of rejecting electrical stoves or microwaves, and is weirdly insistent I use ingredients like LIPTON’S soup mix and CRISCO shortening. I’m pretty definite ‘rigorous trademark loyalty’ isn’t an Amish tenet. But let’s dine in to honor these hardworking, industrious people I’ve just been a third of the note taking the piss out of. A phrase I’m unsure how to correct grammatically, because it’s British. “Out of whom I’ve been taking the piss?” is probably right, but like any phrase using whom, makes you sound like a perfect mix of asshole and nerd.
This is exactly the kind of guy who’d say “out of whom I’ve been taking the piss.”
Down to the Nitty-Gritty
Those of you with more patience than sense have been slogging through this note wondering what “Maybe Bacon” is. Well, the answer is: Bacon, maybe. See, this particular recipe uses bacon, but in analyzing its contents and composition, it doesn’t NEED it in order to work. As such, this meal is made fully vegetarian just by removing it and making a single substitution. So this note’s for you, vegetarians who are weirdly interested in the Amish!
But first, let’s talk about Grits.
Image provided for those who forgot what half the country eats every week.
Actually, you know what? Let’s not. Grits are just corn porridge. They’re not super-fascinating, and despite being the majority of the dish, they don’t add a lot of flavor. Hell, I took them out of the name because I could just never make “Grits Puff” sound appetizing. Let’s instead talk about the danger of trusting others in basic assumptions.
See, as ever, I decided randomly to make this meal, and was prepping a list of ingredients for when I went to the store. I was also thinking about making Cornbread Muffins, so I asked if we had yellow Cornmeal. The answer was “Yes, up behind that bottle of syrup.” I looked up, saw a completely full bottle, and assumed that “syrup” probably meant “MAPLE syrup”, so I didn’t add it to my grocery list. Instead, in an impressive twist, “syrup” in this instance meant “honey”. As such, I ran out of syrup before I could get the full Half-cup.
While taking this picture, I asked myself “Should I pinch that hair away first?” Then I asked “Wait, when the heck did that hair get there?”
Other than that fundamental error of not having enough Maple for a MAPLE PUFF, everything went fine. Not that there’s a ton of room for things to go wrong. You fry up some bacon and burn your hands crumbling it too soon. You make a batch of grits with milk, water, and salt, and almost forget the salt. Then you pour in the maple, crumbled bacon, and a bit of the bacon fat, which you manage to do without spilling too much bacon fat. Finally, you add 4 eggs, and bake the whole thing. IT’s like the world’s easiest casserole. Or a quiche with disturbingly little egg.
I mean, it definitely LOOKS like a quiche. Hell, it looks like a GREAT quiche. Quiche quiche quiche. It’s fun to say!
Eating it is a little weird. My claim of quiche-liness (A word I have decided to invent because it’s even MORE fun to say.) isn’t far off the mark. The texture is definitely more quiche than anything else of which I can think. (I am weirdly against ending in prepositions today.) (And weirdly into parentheticals.) The taste is, well, a little bland, because I didn’t have enough maple. Using Mrs Buttersworth instead of actual maple syrup likely didn’t do me any favors. But there’s nothing wrong with it. It smells nicely of maple, and it tastes like bacon quiche. I’m going to call this a qualified success.
As ever, share us with your friends on Facebook if you liked my mad ramblings, and follow us on twitter to see pictures of various foods in my life. You can also email Alan or myself with any questions, ideas, or comments you had.
NEXT TIME: UN MILAGRO POR MIERCOLES! TEQUILA CON MI AMIGO, DE MI AMIGO.
Maple Maybe Bacon Puff
8 slices bacon (optional)
2 c milk
1 ¼ c water
1 c quick-grits
½ tsp salt
½ c maple syrup
Chives for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease 1 ½ q casserole or soufflé dish. The original recipe calls for a round one, but I used a square 2 q, and it was fine. If using, cook bacon over medium high heat around 7 minutes or until crisp. Set aside on paper towel, reserve 2 tbsp drippings, and crumble when cool.
- Combine milk, water, salt, and grits in medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Simmer 2-3 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and add maple syrup and 2 tbsp butter. (if using bacon, add all but ¼ c crumbled bacon and reserved drippings, omitting butter)
- Beat 4 eggs in medium bowl, and add small portion of cooked grits to bowl, stirring to incorporate. Add bowl to saucepan, and stir. (This is called “tempering”, and you do it to break the eggs up so you don’t just get scrambled eggs in the finished dish.)
- Pour entire concoction into casserole dish, and put into the oven, baking for 1 hour, 20 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Garnish with fresh chives, and reserved bacon, if using. Serve immediately.