Everything is better with bacon
Bacon is pretty perfect on its own, but mix it in with other ingredients, and it often gets even better.
BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY
STYLING/PHOTOS BY BROOKE ECHOLS
What’s better than bacon? More bacon. If you like bacon, there’s a good chance you actually love bacon and wholeheartedly agree with this statement. The smoky, salty pork product evokes a deep, passionate devotion.
But there is such a thing as too much bacon. Maybe not from your taste buds’ standpoint, but the rest of your body sees things a bit differently. Like many, many other things, bacon, when consumed in mass quantities, is not beneficial to your overall health. Does that mean you should stop eating bacon? When pigs fly! (So, no.) Just don’t eat all the bacon all the time.
But there are multiple reasons to eat at least some bacon. Its rich, meaty taste is distinct, and just a small dose provides such a potent punch that even when it’s designated as an “extra,” it sometimes becomes the star. Take a bacon cheeseburger. If one thing had to be removed, how many of us would give up the beef patty before the bacon?
Plus, while you can always enjoy bacon the old-fashioned way — cozied beside some sunny-side-up eggs and a triangle or two of toast — it’s far more versatile. It goes with almost everything; it’s great on pizza, in pasta sauces, crumbled on top of a salad and as a go-to enhancer for Southern-style veggies. Covered in chocolate, it pushes both sweet and savory notes soaring to new heights.
It’s also appropriate at any time of year. In fall, it provides a flavor coat for quail or dove cooking on a grill. Come winter, it’s almost any soup’s best friend. Spring often finds it embellishing deviled eggs or enrobing the Easter ham (cause why not add more pork to your pork?). And in summer, it sings in BLTs. (In this classic, it gets equal billing with lettuce and tomato, but we all know “B” is the most important letter in the trio.)
The ways to add bacon to your life are seemingly endless. Here are just a few more from our readers.
Cook of the Month
Alice M. Hersant, Wiregrass EC
Alice Hersant first made her Crab Meat Bacon Rolls back in the mid-1970s when her husband was stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey. She did a lot of entertaining in those days, and the salty-smoky-sweet finger food was always a crowd favorite, so she never stopped making it. “I don’t make it as often now, but whenever we have a special gathering, these are usually on the menu,” she says. “I just love the flavor and how crisp the bacon gets.” She also likes that the rolls can be made ahead. “You can even freeze them, then thaw them and broil them right before your event,” she says. She also suggested subbing fresh crabmeat for the canned when you can get your hands on some. “It’s great that way,” she says.
Crab Meat Bacon Rolls
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Dash of salt and pepper
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon celery leaves, chopped
16.5-ounce can crab meat, drained and flaked
12 slices bacon, cut in half
Mix tomato juice and beaten egg; add bread crumbs, salt and pepper, parsley, celery leaves and crab meat. Roll into finger lengths; wrap each roll with 1/2 slice bacon and secure with a toothpick. Broil, turning frequently, until bacon is crisp and evenly browned. Yield: 2 dozen rolls.
Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots with Chipotle-Mayo Dipping Sauce
24 frozen tater tots
12 strips bacon
Favorite rib or BBQ seasoning
Chipotle-Mayo Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut bacon strips in half and wrap each tot, placing them seam-side down on a baking pan. Sprinkle the bacon-wrapped tots with your favorite rub or barbecue seasoning. Bake for 30 minutes or until bacon is cooked. Place tots on a platter and put a skewer in each tot. Serve with the Chipotle-Mayo Dipping Sauce.
Kirk Vantrease, Cullman EC
Bacon Maple Cupcakes
1 box yellow cake mix
½ cup canola oil
2 large eggs
½ cup water
1 container white frosting
3 tablespoons Aunt Jemima maple pancake syrup
8 slices pre-cooked bacon, crumbled
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12-cup regular size cupcake pan. Combine cake mix, oil, eggs and water in medium bowl. Beat 1 minute with mixer. Pour into cupcake molds 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until light brown. Cool 30 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape out frosting into a bowl. Stir in maple syrup until well blended. Spread generously on cupcakes. Sprinkle with bacon crumbles. Lightly press down so bacon won’t fall off.
Barbara Frasier, Sand Mountain EC
Loaded Chicken & Bacon Ranch Potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 boneless chicken breasts
3 pounds red potatoes
1 Ranch dressing seasoning packet
1 pound cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheese
½ green onion, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 380 degrees. Cut potatoes into cubes; place in a bowl of water until ready to use. Cut chicken breast into chunks, season with salt and pepper; place in a bowl until ready to use. Chop green onion; place in a bowl until ready for use. Place bacon on a baking sheet and cook in oven for 30 minutes. While bacon is cooking, toss potatoes and chicken in olive oil, put in a baking dish and sprinkle ranch seasoning packet over it. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Once bacon is done, remove from oven and allow a few minutes to cool, then crumble bacon. Take chicken and potatoes out of the oven and cover top with bacon and cheese, place back in the oven for 15 minutes uncovered. Once it’s cooked, top with green onion and serve. Great topped with sour cream.
Sharlene Parker, Baldwin EMC
Honey Bacon Biscuits
5 strips bacon
6 ounces (1.5 sticks or 12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 cups self-rising flour, plus more for sprinkling
3/4 cup buttermilk
1.5 tablespoons honey
1 egg white, beaten
Melted butter for brushing, optional
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the butter into small (1/2 inch) chunks, then place in the freezer while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Fry the bacon until crisped. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Once the grease is absorbed, crumble the bacon. Store in the fridge until ready to use. Place the flour in a mixing bowl. In a measuring cup, whisk together the cold buttermilk and honey. Take the butter out of the freezer and add it to the flour mixture. Use two knives or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse, pea-sized crumbs. Add the buttermilk mixture, a little at a time, and stir the mixture gently with a wooden spoon until it starts to come together and form a ball. Gently stir in the bacon crumbles. Sprinkle a flat surface with flour. Turn the biscuit mixture out onto the flour and use your hands to pat it into a thin rectangle. Fold the left side to the center of the rectangle then fold the right side over the left side (think about folding a brochure). Roll the mixture out then fold again. Roll out a final time to ¾ inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter or juice glass to cut out the biscuits, making sure not to twist the cutter when you remove it. Reroll the dough with any scraps until all of it is used. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet and brush with a whisked egg white. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top. Serve immediately brushed with melted butter or store wrapped loosely in a kitchen towel for a day. Reheat before serving.
Marsha S. Gardner, Baldwin EMC
1 package English Muffins, 8-count or 2 14-inch pizza crusts
1 pound bacon
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped (2/3 cup)
18-ounce can tomato sauce
16-ounce can tomato paste
1 pound American cheese
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
Fry bacon. Save 8 slices for garnish. Crumble remainder of bacon. Saute onion and bell pepper in 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings until softened. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, pepper and oregano. Cut cheese in 3 sections, saving 8 pieces for garnish. Blend remaining cheese into bacon mixture to melt cheese. Divide muffins into halves for 16 pizzas. Divide bacon mixture over the 16 muffins. Use the remaining cheese and bacon to place on top of each pizza. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. After cooked, the muffin pizzas can be individually wrapped, placed in a plastic bag and frozen to eat as desired later. Defrost and reheat.
Patricia R. Cobb, North Alabama EC
Want perfect oven-fried bacon like the photo to the left? Here’s how you do it: Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire cooling rack on top of the paper. Lay strips of bacon across the rack and place in the oven. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the bacon is crisped and done. (This can vary based on the thickness of the slices.)
The parchment paper ensures simple clean-up, and, if you want to save the bacon grease for future cooking projects (highly recommended!), carefully fold and roll the paper to form a funnel-like shape and drain the grease into a glass jar. Seal and store in the fridge.
Send us your recipes for a chance to win!
Themes and Deadlines
Sept: Onions | June 14
Oct: Cast Iron Cooking | July 12
Nov: Apples | August 9
3 ways to submit:
Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
Please send us your original recipes (developed or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.
To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.