Rumaki: A Showcase For The Best Bacon Substitute

Facon-wrapped chicken livers are a quick, rich summer hors d'oeuvre option.

Special To The Jewish Week
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Think about bacon. The fragrance is mesmerizing and it glistens golden brown and crispy. Of all the treif in the universe, this stuff has to be the most unsettling, the most tempting.

Why else would there be so many kosher imitations?

Bacon is so compelling that when I was a kid our pediatrician told my mother that if I was a fussy eater she should get a special “bacon pan” because even fussy eaters love bacon and that eating it was okay in that case. Well, the doctor was right about this anyway: everyone seems to love bacon, even fussy kids.

I’ve tried the fakes over the years. Up to now I thought, “why bother?” Beef fry doesn’t have the right amount of fat and tastes like corned beef, so why not just eat corned beef? Turkey bacon is too dry. Lamb bacon is too, well, lamby; too gamy.

There’s veggie “bacon” too, which I actually cook and crumble over cold yogurt based soups. But it isn’t the real thing. Not by a lot.

Nothing qualified until recently, when I tried Facon, a new product from Jack’s Gourmet. It has the right balance of meat and fat. It’s salty and pleasantly smoky. It looks and smells like real bacon.

It’s kosher. Glatt. Certified by the OU.

I knew this product would be part of my life when I tasted it at Kosherfest (where it won the 2012 New Products Competition Best New Meat/Seafood/Poultry item).

FLTs are on my menu of course, because few treats beat that American classic: bacon on lightly toasted hometsyle white bread, layered with soft lettuce (like Bibb), ripe beefsteak tomato slices and mayo. You can add avocado slices or cooked chicken or even a sunnyside egg. And you will hum happily if you mix in a bit of chopped fresh basil to that mayonnaise.

Now that summer’s here and I might have time to entertain more, I’m thinking of quick and easy Facon hors d’oeuvre. Like these: wrap a half strip of bacon around a bite-sized piece of cooked potato, water chestnut, pineapple chunk, pistachio-nut-stuffed medjool date; bake (450 degrees) or broil until crispy (about 8-10 minutes). Serve plain or with a coordinating dip: mayo mixed with lemon or Dijon mustard or bottled Duck Sauce.

I recently used Facon for Rumaki, which are small pieces of chicken liver marinated in a soy sauce based mixture, wrapped with Facon and broiled (or baked) until everything is nice and crispy. My guests devoured every piece. This hors d’oeuvre is a definite repeat.

Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author and cooking teacher in Stamford. Her latest book is Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com and follow on Twitter at @RonnieVFein.

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients: 
1/2 pound chicken livers
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons crumbled, crystallized ginger
1 clove garlic
1/2 star anise, finely chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon anise extract
1/2 pound façon
Recipe Steps: 
Cut the chicken livers into bite-sized pieces.
Combine the soy sauce, molasses, honey, water, vegetable oil, ginger, garlic and anise in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Add the livers and poach them for 5 minutes.
Preheat a grill or broiler.
Remove the liver pieces with a slotted spoon and let cool.
Cut the Facon slices into smaller pieces that are large enough to wrap around each piece of poached liver. Secure each Facon-wrapped liver with a toothpick.
Broil or grill for several minutes, turning occasionally, until the Facon is browned and crispy (8-10 minutes).
You can also bake these at 450 degrees; turn once or twice. Makes 18-20 pieces