We all know about my love affair with the Pig. Braised shoulder, smoked butt, Christmas Ham, BBQ ribs, Crispy Belly, grilled Chops, glorious Tuscan Crown Roast. I put ground pork in my meatloaf and meatballs, layer succulent slices of prosciutto over figs, and I believe that a whisper-thin slice of lardo, meltingly translucent on a grilled piece of rustic bread kissed with garlic is a desert island dish.
But nothing compares to my love of bacon.
Mahogany slices next to scrambled eggs. Lardons on my frisee salad. A shattering circle of pancetta on my bruschetta. Spaghetti carbonara. Peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches with extra crisp bacon in the middle. Wrapped around asparagus or scallops or venison, or, frankly, your shoe!
I love the new bacon chocolate bars, am trying to score a trip to Portland to visit Voodoo Doughnuts and try their Maple Bacon Long John. When entering the Plugra Butter competition, I was sure the winning recipe would be my Honey Bacon Butter. What else would you want on your waffles? Butter. With honey. And crispy pieces of bacon. I still can’t believe I didn’t win.
So when I was sitting at brunch a few months ago with my friend Tracey, and we were splitting a side order of really lovely Nueske bacon with our frittatas, and I was telling Tracey about the genius Bacon Explosion I had read about on Michael Ruhlman’s Blog, suddenly I announced that I wished my plate were made of bacon…lightning bolt.
Think on it, people.
A thin, crispy sheet of bacony goodness upon which to serve any number of complementary foodstuffs. Imagine a fresh arugula salad, peppery and slicked with good olive oil, bright with a squeeze of lemon or a splash of sherry vinegar. Some shavings of pecorino or creamy crumbles of chevre. Maybe some dried cherries or caramelized walnuts or roasted blood oranges.
Now imagine this perfect salad, ON A BACON PLATE! Can’t you just taste it? C’mon, you know you want to.
Alright, salad not your thing? You think bacon is better at breakfast? Okey dokey, think stack of hot buttermilk pancakes, dripping with butter and good maple syrup.
ON A BACON PLATE!
My mind reeled at the possibilities. I mean, sure, you can have your basic bacon plate, just simple smoky goodness. But there suddenly came flood of variations. Bacon plate caramelized with cinnamon and brown sugar. Glazed with BBQ sauce. Black Pepper and Honey Bacon Plate, Maple Glazed Bacon Plate, Honey Mustard Bacon Plate, Spicy Cajun Bacon Plate, Teriyaki Bacon Plate, Herbs de Provence Bacon Plate, Chicken Fried Bacon Plate…it is endless!
And then it really came to me. CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON PLATE WITH ALMONDS!!!!! Or rather, chocolate covered bacon BOWL with almonds, in which to serve ice cream.
I could pass out.
It was too good an idea, too tempting a project.
I was born to Bacon Plate.
I was not born to have success right out of the box.
The night of our brunch I took a package of bacon out of my freezer to thaw, so that I could begin the new BP era. When I awoke in the morning, there was a lightness in my heart, a spring in my step. There was not the tiniest worry that I would fail.
And here is what your Bacon Obsessed Polymath discovered.
BACON PLATE NOTES: V1
Tried two versions, one with basket weave bacon slices, one with slices just slightly overlapped. Baked at 400 degrees on parchment sheet on pan for approx. 18 minutes.
1. I must buy thin sliced bacon, the extra-thick-cut stuff I keep in my freezer doesn’t get brittle and crispy the way it needs to. Also need to cook with a second sheet pan on top so they don’t curl.
2. Better to overlap the slices slightly than basket weave. Same reasons as above.
3. It is surprisingly easy to eat an entire package of bacon.
4. Not having a sprightly arugula salad or stack of pancakes to put upon my bacon plates, I found that the second best use is to put it dead in the middle of your peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich for breakfast. (See #3) And to make my sad but fave version of BLTs, which is just BLs, (‘cause I don’t like raw tomatoes), but I do like equal parts of crispy bacon and iceberg lettuce between two slices of plotchy white bread. (See #3)
5. This is a totally viable project, I will wait a couple of months for my blood to return to an appropriate red-cell-to-bacon-fat ratio and then do a second attempt.
6. Despite having eaten an entire package of bacon between breakfast and lunch, it is still possible to need lemon linguine for dinner.
7. There is something equally lovely and pathetic about spending a Saturday in your pajamas on a bacon binge.
8. Having done #4, I am convinced that a chocolate covered bacon bowl is officially the best possible receptacle for a scoop of strawberry ice cream, and must figure out way to make this happen.
As with many things that I get instantly passionate about and then abandon just as quickly, the Great Bacon Plate Experiment was destined to be a random weekend fling and not a consuming permanent romance. I simply abandoned the project, such as it was. I figured that I could, if called upon, probably make a decent bacon plate by just fixing some of the stuff that went wrong during testing, and really, more testing was not necessary. Especially since I am trying to be good about my food these days, and I clearly cannot be trusted alone in the house with bacon.
I frankly forgot all about it, and turned my attention to less butt-expanding pursuits like reorganizing my closets and moving stuff around in my apartment.
Until the other day when a friend asked me whatever happened with the Bacon Plate Experiment.
I had also conveniently forgotten that for several days after the Experiment I had told many people about my new amazing invention, always problematic if you are going to give up on something quickly…makes you look flaky. Especially if you tell them that you think you can market your idea to restaurants and supermarkets and to not be surprised if Billy Mays is hocking a monthly Bacon Plate Club on late night cable someday.
(This obviously before he was, um, all dead and all…which is a major blow since I can’t really see the ShamWow! guy doing justice to a Bacon Plate)
I had to admit to her that I had yet to actually create a successful Bacon Plate, and that I had pretty much given up due to wanting my blood to actually continue to get through my veins unimpeded.
She laughed and admitted to me that she has at least fourteen notebooks containing pages of scribbles about different side businesses that she wanted to start, and that once she got all the notes down, her desire to actually start the businesses went away.
It makes me feel better to know that I am not the only one to get all amped up about something and then let it go just as quickly.
I started thinking about such projects in my own life, and discovered that they were many.
There was the genius idea my sister and I had about creating a sort of rubber soled disposable ballet slipper kind of shoe that could fold up and fit in your purse for when your feet get sore at weddings and other stillettoed events but you don't want to stop dancing. Or walking. This involved my actually…wait for it….making a pair of shoes. And then doing nothing with them. SHOE FAIL
Then there was the sudden need to have the inset squares on the ceiling of my dining room painted in a gold-on-gold harlequin pattern which I believed I could achieve by painting the pattern on pieces of foam core and then attaching to the ceiling. I did two out of twenty, got them up, they looked weird, so I gave up. I did not, for the record, take them down until a few days ago in my current Project Apartment 2.0 mania. (I did, for the record, put them up about 6 ½ years ago.) CEILING FAIL
I have bought pieces of furniture with the express intent of stripping off layers of paint and giving them new life, only to have them languish in the basement. FURNITURE FAIL
I once bought all the supplies I would need to can my own jam and other delectables into beautiful jars…the jars and other canning equipment are in my basement, pristine and unused. CANNING FAIL
At least the Bacon Plate Project didn’t require special equipment, and of all the things I ever gave up on, is the only one that at least has the side benefit of keeping me somewhat healthier!