Or bacon flavored chewing gum...
But the creative ways that chefs are using my favorite meat candy continues to delight and inspire me.
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 roasted 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. Wrapped around dates or asparagus. Crispy bits atop scallops, enveloping my meatloaf, wrapped around a filet of beef or venison, or, frankly, your shoe!
I love the Vosges bacon chocolate bars.
Voodoo Doughnuts and try their Maple Bacon Long John.
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 while back with my friend Tracey, and we were splitting a side order of really lovely Nueske bacon with our frittatas, and I was telling her 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 Nueske's 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
Note: My sister recently called me to say she had seen a pair of our fantastic hypothetical shoe in a store, meaning that once again we are not genius entrepreneur millionairesses.
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 my recent Project Apartment 2.0 mania. (I did, for the record, put them up about 6 ½ years ago.) CEILING FAIL
Note: The two squares continue to have splotches where taking the squares down pulled off not only the paint but some of the drywall paper as well. They look great next to the Chinese paper lanterns I put up for a Chinese-themed dinner party. In 1994.
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
Note: With my summer successes with quick pickles, I still have every intention of bringing back the canning project. I'm just still so nervous, what with my food safety issues and all, deep down I'm pretty sure there might be botulism in my future, and not as an injectable. But I'm working on it.
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!
But it did make me think about all of my favorite bacon-y recipes, all of which taste even better now that Fall is descending.
So I thought I would share some of my best bacon recipes, just in time for the weekend.
And if any of you have any success with the bacon plate...I want pictures. And a percentage.
8 oz. chive or scallion cream cheese
2 pkg. California pitted dates
1 lb thin sliced bacon, slices halved, and blanched 1 minute in boiling water (or ready to eat bacon)
Make a slice lengthwise in one side of dates. Stuff with ½ T cream cheese. Wrap in half slice bacon and skewer with toothpicks. Bake in 400 degree oven 10-12 minutes or until bacon is crisp, or cook under broiler but WATCH CAREFULLY!!!!
Bacon-Wrapped Barbeque Meatloaf
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ c Greek yogurt (can sub sour cream or whole milk)
1 lb. ground beef chuck
½ lb. ground pork
½ lb. ground veal
½ c French’s fried onions, chopped
2/3 c crushed saltine crackers or dried bread crumbs
1/3 c minced fresh parsley
8oz of your favorite barbeque sauce (bottled or homemade)
8 oz. bacon, sliced thin
2 T brown sugar
1 T tomato paste
1 T maple syrup
For the glaze: Mix the barbeque sauce with the brown sugar, tomato paste and maple syrup in saucepan, set aside.
For the meat loaf: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in medium skillet. Add onion and garlic; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing remaining ingredients.
Mix eggs with thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and yogurt. Add egg mixture to meat in large bowl along with crackers, fried onions, parsley, and cooked onion and garlic; mix with fork until evenly blended and meat mixture does not stick to bowl. (If mixture sticks, add additional milk, a couple tablespoons at a time until mix no longer sticks.)
With wet hands, pat mixture into approximately 9-by-5-inch loaf shape on a foil lined and greased sheet pan. Brush with half of the glaze, then arrange bacon slices, crosswise, over loaf, overlapping slightly and tucking bacon tip ends under loaf. Bake loaf until bacon is crisp and loaf registers 160 degrees, about 1 hour. Cool at least 20 minutes. Simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until thickened slightly. Slice meat loaf and serve with extra glaze passed separately.
Sweet Bacon Jam
If you want this and don't want to make it yourself, buy this version.
1 T olive oil
1 lb slab bacon, diced in small squares
2 onions, chopped
2 T balsamic vinegar
½ c maple syrup
1 c port wine or cream sherry
Pepper to taste.
Heat a deep skillet with oil and cook bacon until fat is almost completely rendered out. Keep ¼ c of the bacon fat in pan, reserving the rest for other uses. Add onions to pan, cooking until well caramelized. Add balsamic and cook 2-3 minutes longer. Add the maple syrup and cook slowly, about 5 minutes. Add port and pepper to taste and cook gently 20-30 minutes until it is the consistency of jam. This is a great base for appetizers, it is great with cheeses, or use it as a condiment for steaks.
1/2 pound of unsliced pancetta ( you can substitute slab bacon)
3 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds canned tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1/2 t red-pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried lingune or perciatelli
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cut the pancetta into chunks less than one-half inch thick. Place in a saucepan with the olive oil and fry over low heat for 15 minutes, until all the fat has been rendered out and the meat is very crisp. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.Add the onion to the pan and saute over medium heat for five minutes.Drain the tomatoes, finely chop them and add to the onion in the pan. Season with red-pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil and add salt to taste. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 to 12 minutes, depending on the brand. Drain well.
Transfer the cooked sauce to a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and the reserved meat and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the cheese and mix very well. Transfer the pasta to a warm platter and serve immediately.
Despite my preference for keeping bacon to delicious food items, I will admit, I do sorta want these shoes a little bit....
Most importantly, if you are really a bacon fiend, get yourself some Nueske's, especially their new cherrywood smoked stuff...it is the epitome of bacon perfection and you don't even want to know how much I have in my freezer.
I will only say that for his birthday, Charming Suitor received (not from me) a 5 pound package!
What are your favorite uses for bacon?
Yours in Good (smoky) Taste,
Where do you buy Nueske's locally? We're halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago (on the IL side!) and used to drive to Mayfair Mall to pick it up, but that location is gone now. I'll order it if I have to, but it would be great to have a more local option. By the way, the 5 pound package is just a starter for us, we tend to pick up 10 to 15 pounds at a time!ReplyDelete
I too adore bacon. I am intrigued by the bacon chocolate (Honstly....bacon and chocolate, what could go wrong?) I'm going to have to find me some of that!ReplyDelete
Come to New Orleans, go to Elizabeth's in the Bywater, and order praline bacon. You will not be disappointed. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5493402ReplyDelete
Come to New Orleans, go to Elizabeth's in the Bywater, and order praline bacon. You will not be disappointed. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5493402ReplyDelete
Speaking of previous recipes: I was looking for one that you posted awhile back about baking baby red pototes and them smashing them with a cup and then broiling them? Can you repost that one?ReplyDelete
a) you have no idea how much better this makes me feel about all the craft supplies and unopened gadgets stashed around my apartment; 2) did you try the Alton Brown method of baking the bacon on a rack on a baking sheet?ReplyDelete
P.S. I heard about somebody trying to market a vending machine for flats that would go into dance clubs, etc. for Deb's and your sake, I hope they fail.
I had a bit of a brainstorm while reading this and thinking about the bacon bowl for ice cream. First of all, the bacon bowl would have to be drizzled with chocolate rather than coated for the bacony goodness to permeate the ice cream. Second, and more food engineering-ly, using a large muffin tin with a pie weight or the old beans in tin foil trick would make a great bacon bowl. Part of me is seriously thinking about doing this. I kind of want to have an ice cream social with homemade waffle bowl and bacon bowl options. For my health, I don't think it will happen but it would be a fun time.ReplyDelete
So easy! Just boil new potatoes till done. Lay out on large oiled sheet pan. Gently smash flat (i use bottom of a glass, but a small saucepan will do) and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper, or whatever seasonings you like. Roast at 400 till crispy, about 15 minutes. Yummy!
We are kindred spirits, sisters from another mother as it were. I too have a love affair with glorious strips of smoky, maple-flavored, bits & pieces, oh well...all thing bacon. It is a life long love affair. I have an acceptable cholesterol level due only to the level of my poverty that separates me from my bacony goodness. I must admit to many ideas I have given up on. The latest was for a medical usb drive to replace alert jewelry. A search revealed I was not the only one to think of it. I wisely chose to ignore solicitation from the inventor services. What a scam. I do admit to having seen your shoe idea in recent beauty sections of tabloid magazines. I do also confess to trying to recreate the recent fast food chicken franchise's "sandwich" using chicken breast patties as bread with cheese and bacon. My bacon tip is my hubby's discovery: cook it on a "pro boxer" grill. You know, the fat-burning grills. It takes 6 to 8 minutes for nice crispy rashers of thick cut bacon, done to perfection. Equally important is catching the drippings and reserving to saute crisp fresh green beans or whipping up a nice omelet or a perfect over medium egg with toast dripping with real butter. For me, toast means sinful yet delicious fresh white bread. The tastes marry in orgasmic fashion, delectable. I also remember my momma's "german potato salad". It was leftover boiled potato cubes heated in bacon grease with crumbled bacon. Then you stirred in a beaten egg or two, depending on amount of leftover potatoes. Serve immediately with splash of vinegar optional. As a child, I refused the vinegar, finding it too sour for my taste. Now, with the wide variety of vinegars available, I wonder at trying it again, perhaps with a flavored vinegar. Happy eating, dear polymath friend!ReplyDelete
BACON DINNERWARE!! Stacey, one day we will bring this genius to life. And the world will thank us.ReplyDelete
I love your obsession with bacon. Cracks me up. And I have to say, a bacon plate is pretty genius.ReplyDelete
Stacey, you should sign up for the bacon of the month club. It's fun and yummy.ReplyDelete
I'm totally on board. I think you should use those muffin tin things a post or two up from this one (the giveaway ones) and those little round bacons made for sandwiches and stuff... mini bacon bowls for appetizers! Or throw in quiche filling for little bacon wraped quiches!ReplyDelete
I <3 bacon!
Mo's bacon bar is the best. And I'm assuming you've already been to both of these joints, but the suckling pig at The Publican and the crispy pig face at Girl & The Goat are fantastic! Bring on the pork!ReplyDelete