NEWS

“I Love Bacon!” cookbook is everything bacon

Kathryn Rem

Lately, everything’s coming up bacon.

Strips of cured and smoked pork belly have become the darling of the culinary world, incorporated into everything from appetizers to desserts.

The restaurant chain Denny’s, for example, is celebrating what it calls Baconalia through June 6. On the menu are maple bacon sundaes topped with bits of hickory-smoked bacon; bacon meatloaf, with bacon inside and on top; BBBLT sandwiches with eight strips of bacon; and triple bacon samplers with eggs, hash browns and three kinds of bacon: hickory, pepper and turkey.

On the Internet are sites devoted to bacon, including www.baconfreak.com, www.iheartbacon.com and www.baconunwrapped.com.

The marketplace is fat with bacon products, too: coffee, jerky, chocolate, salt, gum, vodka, hot sauce, pancake mix, popcorn and brittle. Aficionados can buy bacon lip gloss, soap, air freshener, candles, toothpicks and bacon-scented fragrance.

Nonfood products sport the unmistakable red and white bacon stripes. Find the look on bandages, placemats, platters, wallets and pillows. There are even several bacon-of-the-month clubs.

It’s not just an American fascination. Bacon is popular worldwide, though it often comes from other parts of the pig. Pancetta in Italy is pork belly that is cured but not smoked. Canadian bacon is from the pork loin. Guanciale is un-smoked Italian bacon from the cheek. British bacon is the back fat.

The book “I Love Bacon!” by Jayne Rockmill contains recipes for bacon cocktails, hash, sliders, macaroni and cheese, tacos, salad, candy, brioche, cupcakes and ice cream.

Here is a sample from the book:

Bacon-Wrapped Mango Chutney and Manchego-Stuffed Dates

  • 12 large Medjool dates
  • 1 cup mango chutney
  • 1 cup grated manchego cheese (4 ounces)
  • 6 slices applewood-smoked bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a paring knife, cut each date in half lengthwise, just to the pit. Remove the pit and open the date, but do not cut all the way through it.

In a small bowl, combine the chutney and cheese with a small fork, mashing it together lightly. Spoon a teaspoon of the filling into the center of each date. Close the date around the filling.

Cut each of the bacon slices in half. Wrap a half piece of bacon tightly around the center of each date. Place the dates on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the bacon is crispy. Drain the bacon on paper towels. Spear each with a toothpick to serve.

Makes 12 servings.

Chocolate-Dipped Smoked Almond-Bacon Brittle

  • ¼ pound bacon
  • 2 cups smoked almonds
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns
  • 8 ounces 60% cacao chocolate, chopped

Cut bacon into bite-size pieces. Place pieces in large saute pan and cook over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Coarsely chop smoked almonds and set aside. Line baking sheet with silicone liner or waxed paper.

In large saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook mixture on medium-high heat about 4 minutes, or until sugar turns thick and syrupy. Slowly add softened butter and continue stirring until mixture emulsifies. Keep cooking and stirring until mixture is golden brown, about 4 minutes longer.

Remove pan from heat. If mixture is not smooth, whisk until it is. Stir in baking soda, salt, peppercorns, crispy bacon bits and almonds. Quickly but carefully pour brittle onto prepared baking sheet. When cool and hard, break brittle into bite-size pieces.

Melt chocolate in microwave in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring in between intervals, until mixture is entirely melted but not hot. Cool chocolate to room temperature, then either dip pieces of brittle in the chocolate or drizzle the chocolate on top. Chill brittle until chocolate is set. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 1 week.

Makes 3 pounds.

Kathryn Rem can be reached at 217-788-1520.