Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Annual Bacon Party

The First Annual Bacon Party was a fantastic occasion to salute the pork belly.

I think I do need 365 days between annual events. Given more time to prepare, there certainly could have been bacon overload, given all the recipes out there. Some are novelty, i.e. the bacon-infused vodka, some are practical, i.e. the bacon bloody Mary. The bacon cupcakes, bacon brownies, bacon jello, and bacon mousse fall somewhere in there too. Maybe for the second edition.

Nueske's Bacon is some of the best bacon around. The smoke flavor is prominent, mostly applewood mixed with some other hardwoods. And it's not expensive at $5.99/lb. And you'll experience much less shrinkage with this good stuff. Thanks for another culinary treasure, Wisconsin.

The cooking got going early, and soon the aroma was so fantastic it was only 10AM, yet seemingly out of nowhere I had a BLT already half-eaten. No worries though, all the cooked bacon was rested on and patted with paper towel, thus rendering (pun intended) the entire menu low-calorie and thus healthy.




At this point I'm wondering how often I should change my oven fan filter. Unless you have a proper oven fan, those microwave fans don't do shit. Except vaporize bacon grease all over my cabinets.

Once everyone signed the release form, we were ready to go. Thanks to the hosts for adding Caesar salad and grilled blackened chicken to bring some sanity to the affair.


Let the bacon degustation begin-

BLT Dip
Bacon-wrapped Chicago dogs
Bacon-wrapped spicy shrimp
Bacon candy
Chocopork



BLT Dip

The BLT dip was modified from a Paula Deen recipe. I just added a couple ingredients and omitted the two sticks of butter. Actually there was no butter in this recipe, shocking y'all. The salt and pepper amounts are subject to your taste, I prefer a lot of freshly cracked black tellicherry peppercorns. And salt is on the moderate side as in most recipes, and always kosher unless specified otherwise. I added an extra pinch than specified below, as usual taste until your sodium quotient is met.


1 C mayonnaise
1 C sour cream
2 TB plus 1 ts green onion, sliced thin
1/2 ts garlic powder
1 ts kosher salt
1 ts black pepper
1 C iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Sea salt bagel chips

Combine the mayo and sour cream into a small bowl and refrigerate for about an hour, allowing the flavors to mingle. Once chilled add 2 TB of the green onion, the garlic powder, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Layer into a square serving dish about 9x9". I just used a Pyrex baking dish and it worked out, you can also layer the ingredients in a more compact dish. Evenly distribute the lettuce over the mayo mixture, then the tomato, the bacon, and finally sprinkle the remaining green onion over the top. Serve immediately with sea salt bagel chips, toasted mini rye bread, wheat crackers, or just find a spoon. If you want to go to the top with this one toss some small chunks of blue cheese and diced caramelized onions.




Bacon-Wrapped Chicago Dogs

Much love to a hockey player with some 'Sconie in him for bringing these. That being said, I can only guess how they were made. I do know they were par-grilled and finished on the grill as well. Bacon, all-beef hot dogs stuffed with jack cheese, a pickle, a little celery salt, topped with caramelized onion. No tomato, sport peppers, mustard, or other Chicago dog ingredients. The bacon makes up for that and the pickle was enough for the moniker. This is some tasty encased meat. Just don't eat the blue toothpicks.



Bacon-wrapped Spicy Shrimp


There are an unlimited number of ways you could spice these, I thought a little smoked paprika and lemon would play nice on the grill. I used a mix of hot and sweet smoked paprika, something I do often. The shrimp I used were exactly 20 size, that is 20 per lb. Simple, easy, and delicious. The best way to cook and dine.

1/4 C white sugar
1/4 C lemon juice, about two medium lemons worth
1 ts lemon zest
2 TB olive oil
4 ts paprika
1 ts pepper
1 ts ground cumin
1 ts cayenne pepper
1 lb. uncooked 16/20 size shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-10 bacon strips, halved lengthwise


In a small bowl combine the sugar, lemon juice, oil and seasonings. Pour 1/4 cup marinade into a large plastic bag add the shrimp. Seal the bag while squeezing out most of the air, mix it up a bit and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Mix the shrimp up again and then roll up the bag and stick in the fridge for another 15-30 minutes. Just don't leave it in there for hours, this is not a ceviche. Throw the reserve marinade in a small bowl for basting later. Cook the bacon about half-way, until some fat is rendered but not crisp, still pliable. Wrap each shrimp with a piece of bacon and slide onto a flat metal skewer. You can use picks too, or long wooden pre-soaked skewers. I like the metal ones cause they are ready to go at all times. Coat grill rack with cooking spray and then grill over medium-high direct heat. After three minutes, baste with reserve marinade, and then turn after about two more, basting then also. Cook on the flip side for about 4 minutes, basting a couple times again, until the shrimp is pink and the bacon is crisp. Now that is tasty.


Bacon Candy

Bacon candy? AYFKM? Nope, I'm not FKY. Lots of recipes out there for this, some of which refer to this as the Devil's Delight...as it could only be made by Beezlebub himself. Or Bacon Lettuce Tomato.

12 strips bacon, chilled
3/4 C light brown sugar
1 TB medium chili powder
1/2 ts cayenne

Fire up the hotbox to 375 F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment, if you don't have parchment or wax paper you'll be buying another pan. Place a cooling rack over the pan to cook the bacon on. Mix the sugar and spices together and place on another rimmed sheet pan. Pat the bacon dry and dredge into the sugar spice mix, ensuring they are covered on both sides. Place onto the rack and bake for about 17-20 minutes, until the sugar is bubbly goodness. Let cool on the rack and then use a butter knife or metal pie knife to remove them whole. Cut them in half for smaller pieces. And enjoy the experience of umami.




Chocopork

I'm never making this again. Seriously. It's not that it didn't taste good, it just shouldn't be done. All yours.

Cooked, crisp bacon slices, halved
2/3 lb. milk chocolate morsels, Ghirardelli preferred

Melt chocolate over double boiler, dip bacon in and spoon over each side, covering completely but leaving a bacon handle. Place onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and cool, refrigerate after cooled to harden. If you are going to further decorate you should do that while the chocopork is still hot.



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