Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Urgent Recipe!

Here's some good eatin'! But you gotta act fast. In fact, if you live south of me in Southeastern Pennsylvania, you may have already missed the boat.

What I'm talking about is a Kramer Family Favorite: Dandelion Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing.

Look in vain for dandelions in the store. And don't think about substituting arugula or something. This is all about dandelions. And here's the time element: you gotta "harvest" before the plants have flowers. Once the plants have flowers, the leaves get really bitter. And, possibly, a little bit poisonous.

So here's the delio. First off, you get out your little basket with a handle to go over your arm. (You'll want to whistle and skip for this part.) Or, of course, there's the grocery bag option. The basket-over-the-arm just makes it more interesting.

And basically you go to the nearest ill-tended lawn and look for dandelions. They're easy to recognize, even without the flowers. Dandelions are a corruption of the french "dentes de léon," or "teeth of the lion." So the leaves, like your mussy or pussy, have teeth: that is to say, they're jagged. The dandelion has a flat habit, growing out in radii from the root close to the grown. If you pull them up, you'll find one tuberous white root, like a small carrot.

You'll want to gather about four times as much as you think you'll need. For two reasons. First off, when you add the boiling hot dressing, it will reduce by about half. And secondly, there's the next step.

In the next step, you'll want to pick through the dandelion with painstaking care. And I mean painstaking, taking off the lower parts of the leaves where it starts to get all white. And, of course, getting rid of all the foreign matter (grass and leaves and such). This part is a real bear. Then, of course, you'll want to wash it really well. And pat it dry with a towel or do it up good in the salad spinner.

Okay! Then you're ready to make the hot bacon dressing.

If'n you love bacon like I do, you'll want to use as much as you can spare. (You can use turkey bacon if you don't do the pork thing, but use some olive oil or whatever in the pan.) Cut up the bacon into little pieces before you start to cook it over a medium-low heat. I don't like my bacon crisp, so I don't let it get that way. When it's as done as you want it, add some apple cider vinegar, about three or four tablespoons. Keep stirring it around to combine the bacon grease and the vinegar. When it gets all bubbly, add as much sugar as you added vinegar. I also like to add dry mustard. Your choice. Then you add a little bit of flour to thicken it. To bring the volume up to what you want, add some apple cider.

Then comes the good part. Pour the bubbling hot dressing over the dandelion and mix well.

Then there's the pay off. Chow down and enjoy!

The dandelion is slightly bitter, but not unpleasantly so, and full of flavor like nothing else. But then, there's the texture: it's tough, it's got substance, you've gotta chew it.

Oh man.


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