Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chef Rocco Whalen's Slow Cooked Ohio Bacon with Blood Orange Agrodolce and Ciabatta Crumble

By: The Food Hunter

This past January, on the eve of Superbowl Sunday, I was invited to cover the Taste of The NFL, Party with a Purpose held at Westworld of Scottsdale. This event is a unique way to experience exceptional cuisine, meet NFL players and coaches, and support the fight against hunger. (you can read more about my experience here)

It was during that event that I met Chef Rocco Whalen, of Fahrenheit Restaurant in Cleveland. A Cleveland native Chef Whalen started cooking at the early age of 19. After graduating from Pennsylvania Culinary he headed west where he worked for five years in the kitchens of restaurants owned by Wolfgang Puck. In 2001 he returned to Cleveland and worked as exec chef at Blue Point Grille and from there opened Fahrenheit in 2002.

It was the smell of bacon that led me to Chef Whalen's station at the Taste of The NFL, Party with a Purpuse. He was serving bite size pieces of slow braised slab bacon with a sweet and sour blood orange sauce, topped with micro basil and homemade ciabatta bread crumbs. It was out of this world and I was happy to learn he would share the recipe with me.

Over the past several months this recipe has resided on my desktop, teasing me every time I turned on my computer. Finally this past weekend, with no other prior commitments on my plate, I had time to cook this dish.

Combining blood orange juice with ginger, vinegar, soy sauce and brown sugar makes a delicious sweet and sour glaze which complimented the fork tender slab bacon. We served it along side a mix of sauteed cabbage and carrots. The result was a perfectly flavored meal.

Slow Cooked Ohio Bacon with Blood Orange Agrodolce and Ciabatta Crumble

(recipe courtesy of Chef Rocco Whalen)

For the Bacon:
1 lb Ohio Slab Bacon (unsliced)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
8 Thyme Sprigs
1 cup Water

Using a paring knife, score the slab of bacon in a cross-hatch fashion letting the knife run about 1/4 “ deep into the slab. Rub the brown sugar all over the bacon on both the top and bottom. Place a roasting rack in the bottom of a baking dish and fill just to the surface of the rack with water. Place the pork on the rack so that the bottom of the pork is just touching the water. Place thyme sprigs evenly over the top surface of the slab. Cover tightly with Foil or a lid and place in a 300 degree oven. Let bake for 4-6 hours or until the slab is fork tender.

For the Glaze:
3 oz Blood Orange Juice
1 oz Soy Sauce
2 oz Brown Sugar
.25 tsp Garlic, minced
.5 tsp Ginger, minced

In a sauce pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a simmer while stirring. Remove from heat.

For the Crumble:
4 ea Slices Ciabatta
2 T Olive Oil
½ tsp Kosher Salt

Rub the Ciabatta slices with the olive oil and season with salt. Place in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and crisp. Once cool, transfer the bread to a food processor and pulse until they become crumbs. Reserve.

For the Garnish:

2 T Micro Basil (Substitute: 2 T of roughly chopped Basil)

Sauteed Carrots & Cabbage
(adapted from

1⁄2 head purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 head white cabbage, shredded
3 carrot, shredded
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1⁄2 medium onion, finely chopped
pinch ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add ginger and garlic, cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add carrots, cabbage, salt and black pepper; Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next add the vinegar and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Serve warm.


  1. Wow! This looks like my kind of meal! Fantastic.

  2. Wow - this looks incredible! I've never seen slab bacon prepared like this!

  3. This looks fabulous!! I'm glad you finally got around to making the recipe!

  4. This sounds delicious, love the flavors!

  5. Oh my. All these flavors sound amazing together!

  6. I seriously love the sauteed cabbage with carrots!

  7. I've never had sauteed cabbage! I'm try to eat more veggies so I'll give that a try. :)

  8. Sauteed is my favorite way to make cabbage!

  9. Just looking at this makes my cheeks tasty! The cabbage looks just as amazing as that beautiful pork.

  10. Love everything about it, from the crumble to the cabbage. Yum!

  11. What a great dish - you did a wonderful job with the presentation!

  12. That sounds incredible. What an amazing event it must have been too. I covered the Super Bowl years ago, and was so awed and impressed with everything related to it.