Candied Bacon

We all know the food groups that were part of our learning as we were growing up.  Vegetables and Fruit, Grains and Cereals, Protein, Milk and Dairy and Sugars and Fats.  No where in that learning did we cover the sixth and barely known food group… Bacon.  People of the world…wake up!  Bacon is not a new discovery, but it has become an important part of our daily lives.  Well, unless you don’t eat meat, I guess.   It’s everywhere now.  There is bacon and maple donuts, bacon chocolate, bacon flavored gum, bacon cupcakes. Need I say more?  I have said all along it should be its own food group.   I think you too will agree with me once you try this little gem of a recipe I found in Food & Wine.

candied bacon 002

 

Candied Bacon.  I made it for Super Bowl and it was gone in minutes.  It’s like food crack.  You can’t stop eating it.  Sweet and savory, salty and crisp…it’s addictive.   It might not be the healthiest thing to eat, but let’s face it, this isn’t something you’re going to eat every day.  (although I really could).  It’s super easy and one of those dishes that once you make it,  everyone wants to know how you did it.

candied bacon 008

Trust me on this one….  Bacon and easy to make.  You can’t go wrong with this.

People of the world!  I give you Candied Bacon!

Candid Bacon

MAKE AHEAD: The candied bacon can be made earlier in the day. Store at room temperature.
Course Appetizer
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 20 Strips

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 20 slices thick-cut bacon 1 1/2 pounds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the chile powder.

  3. Arrange the bacon strips on the foil and coat the tops with the chile sugar

  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until caramelized and almost crisp.

  5. Transfer the bacon to a rack set over a sheet of foil to cool completely. Serve.

Farro Risotto with Roasted Squash, Apple and Kale

I love this time of year.  I’m ready after the humid, muggy summer to breathe in some fresh crisp air.  I long for my sweaters and log fires to warm the evenings.  With the falling leaves comes the desire of using the abundance of fall flavors such as sage, pumpkins, squash and apples.

Did I mention I love fall?

I’m obsessed with apples right now.  I brought several different types of apples home with me the other day from the market, preparing for an all out apple fest.  I dove in, ready to conquer the sweet to the savory. The only thing I was missing was the road side apple cider stand.

So I have my apples, I love the fall and now I have to do something with all of it.  Well, that’s easy.  I decided to make this combination of a couple of recipes I had seen…  it was everything the autumn season is all about.  Farro Risotto with Apples, Squash, Kale and Sage.  My husband is loving me so much right now.  This meal is on his diet plan since it’s fairly healthy, but it’s also got flavor, texture and comfort, and it doesn’t taste like it’s a diet plan.

squash, apple farro rissoto 008

I paired this with crispy chicken thighs and an apple cider gravy which will be coming in my next post, but for now try this out.   It’s in the top ten of my husband’s all time favorites, so I think you will like it.

Put on a sweater and fill your belly with the taste of fall.  It’s a yum on the food meter!

Farro Risotto with Roasted Squash, Apple and Kale

Course Entree, Side Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced butternut squash
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup farro
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons diced bacon
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 dice and peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Toss squash with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and cook for approximately 7-10 minutes or until squash starts to brown. Remove and set aside.

  3. Soak the farro in cold water to cover for 20-30 minutes. Drain and combine with the chicken stock in a medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to the farro is bubbling gently; cook until just tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain the farro over a bowl so that you can reserve the cooking liquid and set both aside in a warm place.

  4. In the same saucepan, cook bacon until mostly crisp. Add butter and oil and melt slightly and then add shallots, and garlic and cook about 3 more minutes or until fragrant.

  5. Pour in the wine and turn up the heat a little and simmer until the wine has reduced by about two-thirds, another 5 minutes or so.

  6. Add the faro, the apples, and squash and enough of the reserved chicken stock to get a slightly creamy consistency.

  7. Add the kale, sage leaves and more Parmesan and/or salt if necessary and several grinds of black pepper.

  8. Serve immediately or cover and reheat gently before serving, adding more liquid if necessary.

Seared Scallops with Blue Cheese and Bacon Risotto

No matter what I do in life, it seems it’s always better when bacon is involved.  There is just something about the sweet, salty, meaty combination that makes us all fall in love with it.

I’m not even sure when and where I saw this recipe.  It might have been a posting from a local restaurant or a picture in a magazine, but when I saw bacon and risotto in the same sentence, I knew I wanted to make it  On that same note I remember thinking how much my husband liked scallops and how much I like risotto, so as in life….a perfect pairing!

I’ve always made what I think is a pretty good risotto, but I’ve always used parmesan.  This recipe just shows you that it’s okay to think outside of the box.  Of course, the nice thing about risotto is you can add pretty much whatever you really like and it will come out good.  That is the beauty of this dish.

When you see a picture or have an idea that inspires you….give it a try.  Nothing lost, nothing gained as my grandmother would always say.  You might actually find you’ve created something worth talking about!

Bon Appétit!

.

Seared Scallops with Blue Cheese and Bacon Risotto

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • Blue Cheese and Bacon Risotto
  • 1 quart low sodium chicken broth
  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 or small onion, diced (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 ounces blue cheese
  • white pepper and salt to taste

Scallops

  • 10 Sea scallops
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil

Herb butter (optional)

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chevere, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Instructions

  1. Warm chicken broth, do not boil. In a large saucepan over medium heat cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan to drain and set aside. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

  2. Add onion to bacon grease and cook until tender. Add garlic and rice and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine and stir to scrape up the bottom and until wine is absorbed.

  3. Add one cup chicken broth and gently stir until broth is absorbed. (if it is absorbing too fast lower the heat) Repeat, adding one cup at a time, until it is creamy and tender but still has just a hint of resistance when you bite into it – about 20 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and add reserved bacon and the blue cheese and stir until cheese has melted. Season with white pepper and salt if needed. Allow risotto to rest approximately 10 minutes before serving, as it will thicken as it cools.

  5. For scallops: heat canola oil in a non stick skillet until almost smoking. Dry scallops in paper towels and add to hot oil, 2 to 3 minutes each side. Do a small amount at a time, as they will steam if too crowded. They will be nicely browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Remove scallops from pan and set aside. Add 1/2 of the butter to the pan with the minced onion and sauté. Add parsley and chevre (you can also use tarragon, thyme, lemon basil) and wine and deglaze pan. Add remainder of butter.

  7. Add scallops back to butter mixture and gently heat.

  8. To serve, top risotto with scallops and herb butter if desired.

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

I was looking through a magazine the other day and there was a photograph of an appetizer that really interested me and I wanted to try.  It was a jar that was half filled with pimento cheese and topped with a bacon marmalade.  I’m sure there are variations of this everywhere, but I have never seen one.  My only problem was,  there was no recipe.  Thank you to the internet and cookbooks,  it wasn’t an issue.

Let me regress for just a moment.  I have to say that I think bacon should have its own food group.  Let’s face it, everything is better with bacon.  And I know,  even all you diet fanatics will agree with me.  Face it….what’s a few more miles to run when you have bacon on your plate?  You know it’s worth it.  Bacon has found its place in our world.  We have chocolate with bacon, bacon and eggs, bacon candy, bacon wrapped everything……. and now, we have bacon marmalade.  Yes, after making this, I will tell you that this is worth the extra five miles you will have to run. Pair it with pimento cheese and another five or six-mile run and we have a winner….. and you will thank me for it!

The Piquant Pimento Cheese was from my friend Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new cookbook, “DISHING UP VIRGINIA”.  For the past several weeks I’ve had an obsession with making pimento cheese and I’m not sure why because I’ve not been one that really ate pimento cheese.  Having made this however, I am now a huge fan and will use this in so many ways, because it is that good.

The bacon marmalade was adapted from a couple of online recipes, the stronger part coming from Lance Mayhew.  I looked more to his idea because he had bourbon in it and seriously….what could be better than that?    This turned out to be everything I imagined it would.  In this we have bacon smokiness, sweet, salty, and a little kick.  I could not only see this with the pimento cheese on a cracker but on a burger,  with the pimento as a grilled cheese sandwich, on a steak….you name it.

Try this recipe, buy Patrick’s book and definitely combine everything you make with bacon marmalade.  Bacon…the new food group.

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes

Ingredients

PIQUANT PIMENTO CHEESE

  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces white cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

BACON MARMALADE

  • 1 1/2 pounds smoked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup bourbon ( I used Jack Daniels)
  • 6 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups freshly brewed coffee
  • 6 dashes hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 6 grinds fresh black pepper

Instructions

  1. For the Piquant Pimento Cheese
  2. Combine the sharp cheddar, white cheddar, bell pepper and onion in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, celery seed, black pepper and cayenne together in a medium bowl; then pour over the cheese mixture. Mix well and taste, adjusting mayonnaise and seasonings for texture and flavor. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  4. For the Bacon Marmalade
  5. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, fry the bacon over medium heat until the bacon begins to crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and let drain on a paper towel lined plate.
  6. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the rendered bacon fat and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Remove the onion and garlic mixture from the pot and discard the fat. Add the bacon and onion garlic mixture back to the pot with the next five ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to low, while maintaining a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 2 hours, checking the pot every 30 minutes. If the ingredients become too dry, add 1/2 cup water when needed.
  8. After 2 hours, most of the liquid should be reduced. If it is too watery, simmer for up to an additional 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes to cool. Add hot sauce and pepper. Stir to incorporate.
  9. Transfer the contents to a food processor. Pulse the contents 5 or 6 times to incorporate all the ingredients together. Do not over blend, or you will lose the texture.
  10. To Serve
  11. Place Piquant Pimento Cheese in the bottom of a small glass cup or bowl. Top with Bacon Marmalade. Serve with crackers.

Potato Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Summer is right around the corner and with that comes the parties and picnics and family get-togethers.  And of course you always have to have that proverbial dish to pass.  Most people bring a potato salad.  I have to say I never did because I just didn’t like potato salad.  Potatoes and mayonnaise….not what I would call an appetizing combination.

Now I have to eat my words…or potato salad in this case.   I’ve had this recipe for such a long time,  I want to be honest and tell you I don’t really remember where I copied it from.  Perhaps it was from a Southern Living magazine?  I know it sounded good at the time which is probably why I wrote it down in the first place, but it was potato salad and therefore, it was filed and forgotten.  I have since pulled it out and made it several times and wondered,  how is it I never liked potato salad?!

This salad has an amazing punch of flavor.  You know the potatoes are there, they enhance the salad.  And yet, they hang back and it’s okay they aren’t the only star in the dish.  They share the limelight, and they’re fine with it.  Every bite seems to taste a bit of savory, tangy, crunch and creamy.  It’s made a potato salad believer out of me.

So bring on the picnics and the family get-together.  I have the proverbial pass the dish potato salad that will be the star of the party.

Potato Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds baby red potatoes or fingerling potatoes, cut i half
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I use an Applewood thick sliced bacon)

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees. (medium high heat) Place potatoes in a single layer in center of a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring up foil sides over the potatoes, double fold top and side edges to seal.

  2. Grill potatoes in foil packet, covered with grill lid, 15 minutes each side. Remove packet from grill. Carefully open packet, using tongs, and let potatoes cool 5 minutes.

  3. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, add potatoes, tossing gently to coat. Stir in onion, blue cheese and bacon.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Julie and Julia….a movie about a blogger who takes on the infamous Julia Child’s cookbook.  I liked it so much,  I think I must have watched it three times the first day I bought the DVD. I enjoyed the French cooking class scenes, Meryl Streep’s character and the cooking project Julie challenged herself with…… but the Boeuf Bourguignon scene really seemed to catch my attention.  I’m not sure why because I’m really not a big red meat-eater.  I’m your chicken and fish kind of girl. But don’t you think they just made it look so incredibly tasty?  How is it that I would not want to make it?  So,  like a true fan,  I went out and bought the book, put it on my shelf and resolved that I would make the bourguignon very soon.  That was three years ago. ( Fast forward to now.)  Book sitting on my shelf covered in dust, a very cold day and a desire to make something memorable…. the recipe was calling my name.  It was now time to make the classic Julia Child beef stew…..her Boeuf Bourguignon!  My husband, Peter, and I went out and bought everything we needed.  His mouth was already watering, and although challenged by this I wasn’t crazy over what it was going to taste like.  (see earlier comments about me and red meat).  I followed the recipe exactly, drying the meat with the paper towels, browning the mushrooms, adding the red wine and oh my…..   I will have to say….. the aroma, the flavor and the tenderness of the beef changed my mind.  This was a definite “yum” moment and a memorable one at that.  I will definitely make this again and I would recommend you try it.  You and your guests won’t regret it.  And Julia, let me just say… Bon Appetit!

Boeuf Bourguignon

Course Entree
Cook Time 2 minutes
Servings 6

Recipe Notes

Ingredients:
• 6 ounces chunk of bacon
• 1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
• 3 lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
• 1 sliced carrot
• 1 sliced onion
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3 cups of a full bodied young red wine
• 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 2 cloves mashed garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• A crumbled bay leaf
• The blanched bacon rind
• 18=24 small white onions, brown braised in stock
• 1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter
• Parsley sprigs
Directions:
1. Remove the rind from the bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in a 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3. Saute the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat util fat is almost smoking before you saute the beef.
4. Dry the beef in paper towels (it will not brown if it is damp). Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
5. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sauteing fat.
6. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in the middle position of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. (this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust) Remove casserole ad turn oven down to 325 degrees.
7. Stir i the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
8. While the beef is cookig, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
9. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
10. Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off addiitional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If it is too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
11. Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve with roasted or boiled potatoes, noodles or rice. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Pin It on Pinterest