Ian Knauer’s Radishes with Bacon Butter (forgive the crappy photo)
My ears always perk up when I come across someone else with a surname starting with “Kn-.” It’s fairly common in the part of Pennsylvania where I am from, but pretty rare around here.
Turns out young Ian is also a Pennsylvanian-turned-Brooklynite, so when his first cookbook, The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food, started to get so much press, I felt duty-bound to check it out. He was practically family.
The book’s recipes, approach and narrative voice all struck a chord with me. Even though I’d never heard of him, it was clear he had chops and cred; Ian had worked his way up at Gourmet magazine, starting in the test kitchen and impressing a very serious lineup of professional foodies. All that was awesome, but while perusing his just-released book, I turned the page to see that my personal favorite meatloaf recipe, which I’d gotten off Epicurious.com (repository of most of the Gourmet magazine recipe trove), had been originally written, years ago, by none other than Ian.
This recipe contains an amazing secret puree that is worked in with the ground meat - a mash-up of bacon and prunes. I KNOW! Sounds weird! Tastes like heaven! (I leave the bread crumbs out.)
After I saw that, I closed the book and took it to the cash register.
What to make first? Something crunchy and seasonal, I thought. Early spring vegetables were just in, always an exciting time for an enthusiastic cook. I was never a radish girl, until I finally tasted fresh, local French breakfast radishes, and realized radishes aren’t always bitter and angry-tasting. Apparently the French eat them with butter, and that is obvious proof of their impeachable good taste.
Ian did it one better by whipping butter with minced cooked bacon, shallots, lemon and a bit of caraway.
Preparing the bacon butter for a party, I found myself licking it off the beater of my KitchenAid. I bet you will, too.
1/4 lb. bacon
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 small shallot, finely chopped
4 bunches radishes (about 2 lb.), trimmed, leaving 1” of stem
Kosher salt and black pepper
Pulse raw bacon in a food processor until it is finely chopped, or finely chop by hand. Cook bacon in a 10” cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in caraway seeds and cook, stirring, until caraway is fragrant. This will take another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Using an electric mixer , beat bacon, caraway, and any fat from the skillet with butter, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until bacon butter is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in parsley and shallot, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve radishes with bacon butter.