My favorite part of Southern American cuisine is the hearty “country breakfast,” complete with bacon and/or sausage and eggs, biscuits and gravy, grits and hash browns. This kind of meal is heavy, and really fattening, and completely bad for my diabetes (and blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.), but it’s one of my favorite comfort foods, so back in Georgia we would have a mid-morning “Big Breakfast” (as Sheridan calls it) about once a month or so.
Fast forward to Germany…
I get to Nürnberg, and I can’t find most of what I need to make brunch. Bisquick is rare and expensive (I’ve only seen it in the “American” section of Karstadt—imagine if Belk’s had a grocery floor), I’ve seen all kinds of “sausages” (Wurst) but no breakfast sausage, and you can forget grits! What’s a good Southern girl to do without a good soul-satisfying country breakfast once in a while? (Where’s Cracker Barrel when you need one!)
Over the past couple months, though, I’ve been able to find or fake much of what I need for a country breakfast. I’ve found a biscuit recipe from scratch, and found a German vegetable shortening to use, so that’s one hurdle down. I’ve figured out the proportions of spices to replace Kentucky Coloniel Seasoned Flour—my past secret for perfect gravy and breadings—using salt, black pepper, MSG, and paprika.
For some things, though, I haven’t been so lucky. My single attempt at homemade breakfast sausage using ground pork and seasonings didn’t taste right—and Kev didn’t tolerate the sage well. And I have yet to find anything that resembles grits. What the Germans call “Greiß” or grits is actually coarse-ground cornmeal suitable for polenta—NOT the “hominy” grits of Southern cooking.
But this rather rambling post is about bacon. I’m pretty picky about bacon—I like to fry it crisp, so if it’s cut too thin, or has too much fat, it shrivels up to nothing. My long-time favorite from the US is Oscar Mayer Black Label Thick-Cut. It has the right seasoning, fries up nicely, and I can usually find it reasonably priced on sale. Here, though, I can’t be as picky. There are so many sliced, smoked sandwich meats that it took me a while to locate “breakfast bacon”—but it can be found. My favorite so far here is Tulip “Breakfast Bacon” at 1,59€ for 140g. Not a bad price. And it’s thicker (the first brand I bought tasted good but fell apart in the pan) with a good taste.
Sheridan asked me yesterday (Saturday) if we could do “Big Breakfast” this weekend, so we went to Marktkauf to find the necessary items. Unfortunately, they were out of Tulip brand bacon, and I didn’t want the thin stuff again. The only other alternative I found was the one pictured here: Tulip “Bacon Streifen”—strips, but not what we think of as strips of bacon. Instead, they were cut up like you would put on a salad. After discussing it a bit, we decided to try it, and make bacon-cheese omeletes rather than scrambled eggs and bacon.
I have to digress here, and recount an anecdote Mom told me years ago about a mutual friend’s experience with frying bacon. Apparently the recipe she was working with called for “bacon, crumbled”—so she bought a pound of bacon, painstakingly cut the strips up into small pieces, and proceeded to fry it up… and watched in horror as it shriveled up into nothing in the pan. So much easier to fry the bacon as is, then crumble it after it’s cooked.
Well, the package of “Bacon Streife” reminded me of Mom’s story. As you can see, it’s a bunch of little chunks of bacon, ready for cooking. I had serious doubts as to how this was going to turn out.
Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I figured, even if it fried away to nothing, at least I’d have the grease to make gravy with, so it couldn’t be a total loss.
It actually turned out much better than I had feared. While it looks kind of odd in the pan, it actually fried up nicely, and made a nice addition to the omeletes, along with some chopped onion, mozarella cheese, and fresh basil.
Now, that’s not to say that I plan to buy “Bacon Streife” again anytime soon. But at least I know that, if I have to, it won’t be a complete disaster.
Now, if someone can just manage to smuggle me some honest-to-goodness grits through customs….