Yesterday I was shopping in the local supermarket and they had a special offer on bacon. Now bacon is not just bacon as it can be smoked, dried or just salted. In Switzerland mainly smoked salted bacon is eaten, although just salted is can also be made, which I actually prefer. As usual I have to cater for the tastes of my masculine household, so bought a piece of smoked salted bacon. I decided as it was Saturday lunch, and I didn't particularly want to slave all morning in the kitchen preparing some sort of exotic vegetable with it I decided on frozen green beans (just boil, salt, flavour and serve) with potatoes. So here we go.
This is more or less what I need. From right to left - bacon, potatoes, frozen beans and a Waadländer Sauscisson - something Swiss. It is a large sausage filled with pork and spices packed in a skin. This matches well with the bacon. Actually there is a dish in Switzerland called a "Berner Platte" (Bern plate) where these ingredients form the basis, it is typically of the area around Bern and probably comes from the many farms there. A proper Berner Platte would have some bones, cooked ham, boiled beef and perhaps cabbage, but as I was only doing Saturday lunch and not a banquet I just left it as it was.
The next step was to boil some water in a pressure cooker and when boiling to put the bacon into it. Note I did not use my giant pressure cooker, but a flatter one, althugh it doesn't matter as long as it serves the purpose. Of course if you don't have a pressure cooker, then you can use a large saucepan filled with water, but the cooking time is longer. I have about 800 grammes of bacon and it will take around 30-40 minutes under pressure.
In the meanwhile, whilst the bacon is under pressure, I boil some water in a saucepan and put the sausage into the saucepan. My sausage was longer than the width of the saucepan, but with a bit of encouragement I managed to wedge it into the pan. I then put the lid on the saucepan. Cooking time also about 30-40 minutes, but not under pressure - otherwise the sausage would probably explode.
So now we have on the right the sausage and on the left the bacon left to cook on their own. Now we can take it easy, read a book, the newspaper or perhaps do some blogging. About 20 minutes later we have to think of our beans.
First of all I chop an onion in small pieces. My onion is a so-called echalotte, but the special long ones. I just have my own little gimmicks in the kitchen, but a plain ordinary onion does the trick just as well. I also chop up a garlic clove in small pieces. For those who do not like garlic, just leave it out. I find if everyone in the family eats garlic we don't annoy each other so much with the smell.
While I was cutting my onion & garlic I had started to boil some water in a large saucepan. When it boiled I added some salt and put the beans in to cook. I used a kilo of beans.
So now we have our beans (at the back) sausage (front right) and bacon (front left) cooking nicely.
Now to the potatoes. Peel them and put them in a dish. As always I cook them in the microwave, but you can cook potatoes according to your own system. Main thing is that you can eat them afterwards. I sprinkled them with salt and put them in the microwave for about 10 minutes. I did not cut them but left them in one piece - this is the custom in Switzerland when making a Berner Platte.
In the meanwhile the beans are cooked so I drain them off in a sieve or colander or whatever it's called.
I then melt some butter in a saucepan and put the chopped onion and garlic in the pan to fry until they are more or less transparent.
So the beans are now ready, the bacon is cooked and the sausage as well. I cut the rind off the bacon and slice it.
This is the bit where it could be that I lose my temper, but not always. The sausage should be peeled. Either you don't peel it, cut it in slices and everyone peels their slices at the table or you prepare it before. I prefer to prepare it before, as it can be that a few negative remarks are heard when eating. The sausage is hot, really hot, and when you prod it or cut it to take the peel off it can be that you burn your fingers with the hot juice that escapes. Nevertheless, as can be seen, I did manage to do the job.
The potatoes are then also ready and here is the finished meal. Tradition is to put the beans at the bottom, the bacon and sausage and potatoes on top.
Just a few words to myself. I am not a professional cook, but have been married nearly 40 years, brought up 4 children (2 arrived with husband, and the other two are mine). During the years when the family was younger I cooked for all to survive. I was even a cook for 3 years before I had my job that I have now. I was employed in a Kinderkrippe (a place where children stay during the day when their mothers go to work). I was then cooking for 30-40 children and 12 adults every day - breakfast, lunch with tea and coffee break, but that cannot be compared. It is a different system.
Today I have a full time job, Mr. Swiss looks after himself at home and I eat in a restaurant in the local supermarket. In the evening Mr. Swiss looks after food - usually something cold, meat and cheese and salad. I am "allowed" to cook at the week-ends, so it is more a pleasure these days than a job or work and I have more time to sort out what and how. The idea is mainly that everyone wants to eat what you cook. I would of course mention that sometimes things do not turn out as they should - but nobodys perfect.