Better with bacon
By KELLSEY TRIMBLE
Bacon is one of those foods that just about everyone agrees – it’s flipping delicious. My favorite way to enjoy it is with a side of eggs, over-easy, and a buttermilk biscuit with butter and blackberry jam. But you’ll never see me turn down a BLT either, complete with homegrown lettuce and tomato, a dab of mayonnaise, and if I’m really lucky, lightly toasted homemade bread to hold it all together.
I’ve been spoiled the last few years: My father has taken to perfecting the art of curing bacon using pork belly from a local farmer. I thought I liked bacon before – the real stuff Pops makes is on another level. Sometimes he’ll experiment with spices, like curry and cumin, which is always fantastic. But the best is his original recipe.
Every Christmas, my brother and I return home with coolers stuffed full of several pounds of bacon, homemade jams, jars of local honey, and smoked cheeses – another one of his endeavors he’s gotten pretty darn good at.
Bacon being one of my favorite foods, I can’t help but look for recipes that include it in the ingredients. I think I’ve found a pretty good spread here covering several courses of a meal, including dessert. Might sound funny, but chocolate and bacon, it turns out, are a pretty tasty flavor duo.
Mesquite-smoked Jalapeno poppers
Recipe by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig.
Yields 12 poppers.
1/2 cup mesquite wood chips
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 large jalapeno or other mildly hot chili peppers (red or green), cored and seeded
6 thin slices smoked bacon, cut in half
Prepare a medium-hot fire on one side of the grill for indirect cooking. If you have a charcoal grill, soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes before smoking; if you have a gas grill, place dry wood chips in grill’s metal smoker box or fashion an aluminum foil packet, enclose the dry chips, and poke holes in top of foil.
In large bowl, combine cream cheese and cheddar until well-blended. Stuff peppers with mixture. Wrap a half slice of bacon over top of each stuffed jalapeno and secure with toothpick. Place stuffed and wrapped peppers in egg carton or metal popper rack.
When ready to grill, drain then scatter soaked wood chips on charcoal fire, replace grill rack, and place peppers on the indirect (or no-fire) side. For gas grill, place packet of dry wood chips in the back of gas grill over direct heat; place peppers on indirect side. Close lid and smoke for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until bacon is crispy and peppers have a burnished appearance and smoky aroma.
Recipe by Natalie K. Gould.
Yields 4 to 6 servings.
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
11/2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed, and cut in half
2 cups chicken stock
Place bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned but not crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon, leaving grease in the skillet. Set bacon aside.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease. Stir in olive oil, butter, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir until onion softens and garlic lightly browns, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in balsamic vinegar and bring to simmer. Cook until liquid has reduced by a third. Add bacon, brown sugar, Brussels sprouts, and stock. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until Brussels sprouts are tender, yet still slightly firm, about 10 minutes.
Recipe by Karen K. Will.
Yields 12 muffins.
6 slices bacon
13/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup walnut oil or melted butter
1 tablespoon strong coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate mini chips, divided
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 12 muffin cup liners in muffin tin; set aside.
Fry bacon until done but not yet crispy. Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate and cool. Once cool, chop into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to blend.
In separate bowl, combine water, oil, coffee, vanilla, and egg, and mix well. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips and half the bacon. Add to flour mixture, and stir just until moist.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cup liners. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips and remaining bacon evenly over batter.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
Peppered venison roast
Recipe by Teresa Marrone.
Yields 6 to 8 servings.
2 medium cloves garlic
1 boneless deer top round roast or other suitable roast, 3 to 5 pounds
Cracked black pepper
8 to 10 slices bacon
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Cut each garlic clove into four or five slivers. Make 8 to 10 shallow slits in roast, and insert garlic sliver into each slit.
Place roast on rack in roasting pan; brush with oil. Sprinkle pepper liberally over roast. Cover roast with bacon slices.
Roast to desired doneness, 22 to 32 minutes per pound. Remove roast from oven when temperature is 5 degrees less than desired doneness.
Allow meat to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Serve with pan juices.
Savory sage and peppered cornbread
Recipe by Grit Staff.
Yields 10 to 12 servings.
6 slices bacon
11/4 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried red chili pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
11/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons molasses or honey
3 generous tablespoons freshly chopped sage
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In 9- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet, fry bacon until crisp; reserve fat. Cool and crumble bacon.
In medium bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, peppers, and paprika; blend with fork.
In small bowl, mix buttermilk, egg, and molasses, then mix with dry ingredients. Add sage, green onions, Parmesan cheese, and crumbled bacon.
In skillet, heat 1/4 cup reserved bacon fat to near smoking, then pour into cornmeal mixture and stir. Immediately pour batter into hot, greased skillet, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Do not overcook.
Note: This can also be made in a muffin pan for individual servings.
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