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March 13, 2012

If Bacon Wasn’t Bad Enough
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 02:42 PM * 95 comments

Today, for lunch, the younger son (home from college on spring break) made something that he learned to make from the elder son:

Candied Bacon

Take a pound of thick-cut bacon. Cut it in half to make shorter rashers. Pepper excessively. Toss with 1/3 cup brown sugar.

Take a cookie sheet. Line it with parchment paper. Place bacon in a single layer on the paper. Sprinkle any left-over brown sugar on the rashers. Cover with another layer of parchment paper, then put another cookie sheet on top.

Bake at 325°F for 20 minutes. Take from the oven and allow to cool.

Feel your coronary arteries harden at the mere thought of eating this.

Eat it anyway. Tastes pretty darned good.

Comments on If Bacon Wasn't Bad Enough:
#1 ::: giltay ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 02:48 PM:

It's worth your while to add some maple syrup to this.

#2 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 03:04 PM:

I for one welcome our sugar-charged pork overlords.

#3 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 03:06 PM:

I do hope Teresa posts her Bacon Brittle recipe.

#4 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 03:09 PM:

One of the cupcake trucks that plies Manhattan periodically makes Maple-Bacon cupcakes. If you are near then on a Maple-Bacon day, you must be FAST in order to snag one.

Maple syrup in the dough, along with chunks of bacon. Maple syrup in the buttercream frosting and the whole topped with a nicely-sized curl of bacon.

Astonishingly good with just the right blend (to me) of sweet and savory.

(Many of their other cupcakes are also yummy but these are something truly special.)

#5 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 03:41 PM:

I am a humorless dork.

Now that that's out of the way. No food is inherently evil or bad for you if you are prudent and moderate. Calling food "bad" feeds into the evil narratives of the weight loss industry and all that goes with that.

And it pushes my buttons. Sorry.

#6 ::: Puss in Boots ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 03:45 PM:

I'm with Elise. Gimmus* the bacon brittle! :D

* This is "gimme," but for multiple demanding snackers.

#7 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 04:20 PM:

Mary Kay, 5: I share that button, but I read the title as a celebration of excess...because let's face it, candied bacon is kind of ridiculous, and I for one won't be happy until I've made some.

(But possibly I'll wait until Lent is over, so I don't have to eat the whole batch myself.)

#8 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 04:35 PM:

TexAnne @ 7: What you don't eat, you could tape to the cat.

#9 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 04:44 PM:

Mary Kay, 5: Well, some foods are bad for me, even in moderation: anything that contains milk or cheese. But in general I agree with you and, as someone who sees nothing wrong with buying more candy than I can lift, I appreciate you standing up and saying it. :)

#10 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 05:21 PM:

I have some home-cured pancetta which is about to meet its destiny ...

#11 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 05:23 PM:

You guys can have my share. :-)

Between "pepper heavily" and the brown sugar, this is not something I'm even inclined to try. I don't like the flavor of black pepper, and I don't like the combination of bacon and sweet stuff -- as in, maple syrup on bacon or even maplewood-smoked bacon just doesn't taste right, and I can't imagine that this would either. But that means more for everybody else!

#12 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 05:25 PM:

Mary Kay, in principle I agree with you. However, I dropped my LDL ("bad" cholesterol) 10 points by eliminating bacon from my breakfasts, and I wasn't eating that much of it. I mourn, because bacon's delicious and I miss it, she said wistfully, but having had one heart attack, and not wishing to have another, I've chosen to give it up. Some other foods, also. Like what Ross said. I am not a food meanie, except occasionally for myself: other people should do what works for them.

#13 ::: Joris M ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 05:37 PM:

This sounds brilliant. US bacon is usually the streaky kind isn't it?

#14 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 05:45 PM:

All things go around forever in fandom: I last saw that recipe on Larry Sanderson's journal.

I don't know about Teresa's, but my bacon brittle recipe is a standard peanut brittle recipe with crumbled bacon instead of peanuts. (Bake the bacon first. Save the bacon fat for some other recipe. But you can substitute some of it for the butter in the brittle, too.)

#15 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 05:51 PM:

Mary Kay #5: I do see your point -- as they say, "red meat isn't bad for you. Fuzzy blue-green meat, that's bad for you". That said, there are certain foods which invite excess, where even reasonable-looking portions can seriously mess with your calorie budget and/or bloodwork results.

Bacon's usual stigma is the "animal fat/cholesterol" thing, but it's also just plain calorie-dense. Adding sugar piles onto the latter without affecting the former.

#16 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 05:57 PM:

myself @ 2:

I first typed that in as "our sugar-charged pork overloads."

#17 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 06:24 PM:

US bacon is smoked, cured pork belly, so very streaked with both fat and lean. I'm aware of at least 3-4 other similar pork products from different parts of the pig. The Chinese do one, and there are at least 2 different traditional Canadian ones. I'm not sure how the American/Canadian divide interacts with the mutual British divide.

#18 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 06:38 PM:

Torrilin @17: In a Canadian supermarket, unadjectived 'bacon' is indistinguishable from what you can buy in the US under the same name. 'Canadian bacon' is an exclusively USian product, and has no exact analogue in Canadian stores, though 'back bacon' is similar enough to work in recipes (or you could just use ham).

The one time I was in Scotland (family wedding), the laid-on breakfast buffet's bacon was basically what I'd expect to see in the US ... only floppy, not crispy as I prefer it. Same pork product, though, and tasted about the same in the cure. This same breakfast spread (we were staying in rented-out university dorms, so it was Cafeteria Breakfast) also introduced me to black pudding and fried slices of toast. And sauteed diced tomatoes, which I didn't feel really added anything to the experience, though the locals piled 'em on.

#19 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 06:49 PM:

I have yet to try this recipe for bacon cinnamon rolls, but someday I will.

#20 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 07:01 PM:

My cousin's wife used to blog about her cooking experiments. One of them was bacon fudge. It looked . . . greasy but wonderful.

#21 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 07:11 PM:

You think that's bad (or good), try bacon maple cake with bacon ice cream, or chocolate dipped bacon. There is something appealing to the mixture of salty and sweet. That's why candied bacon is such a hit.

#22 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 07:19 PM:

And of course, there's the Bacon Maple Bar by Voodoo Donut in Portland.

You could make one yourself; they apparently just lay a strip of bacon on top of a maple bar.

#23 ::: Joris M ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 07:30 PM:

Torrilin, Elliot Mason, thanks. I tend to associate bacon with the UK version, but the US version seems to be a lot closer to the local variety. These are the small differences that are quite important in getting the expected results.

#24 ::: Claire MacDonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 07:30 PM:

My own favourite is bacon fat spice cookies. You use rendered bacon fat instead of butter, making regular spice cookies. Hubby says they taste like baked ham in cookie form. :)

I particularly enjoy the soft texture of them - meltingly so. :)

The recipe is from an excellent cookbook (Fat by Jennifer McLagan), but has been blogged here.

#25 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 07:37 PM:

Every Saturday morning a group of us who walk our dogs in Council Crest Park (highest elevation inside the city of Portland) go out for coffee and pastries. Last week our regular coffee house was closed (I think permanently) so we moved to the Ross Island Grocery & Cafe, underneath the OHSU tram.

They make all their own pastry, and that day they had standard sticky rolls, sweet orange rolls, and bacon raisin buns. I was tempted by the bacon buns for a minute, but I've been trying to lose some of the weight I've gained since my last surgery, so I opted for the orange rolls. They were very good, especially because they were not very sweet, which I prefer because I've never had much of a sweet tooth. But the whole time I was there I could hear the high, fat voice of the bacon buns calling me.

#26 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 07:49 PM:

Elliott Mason #18: So, soft bacon and crispy pudding... they do say that the Britain conquered the world, was to get some decent food! ( :-), I actually like British breakfasts.)

#27 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 08:14 PM:

Recipe for "Fried Sugar Balls" with lard.

#28 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 09:05 PM:

Me #26: "...the reason Britain conquered...".

I blame the dog, who was insisting on being walked. ;-)

#29 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 09:16 PM:

David Harmon @26 -

Black pudding is actually a type of blood sausage. I believe the main components are pig's blood and oatmeal. It's part of the traditional peasant pursuit of using up bits of the pig that the pig didn't even know it had.

This information courtesy of a childhood fascination with "The Goodies" and in particular their "Eckythump" episode. The whole thing becomes much more surreal when you realise the secret weapon of the Northern English martial art of Eckythump is basically clouting someone over the head with a sausage. Of course, on researching the ingredient list (some of the ones listed in the episode are accurate) it becomes less of a question about why you'd use it to hit people with, and more of a question about why you'd eat the things in the first place.

#30 ::: Rick York ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 09:40 PM:

Oh my, what a superb combination of all the wonderfully two best bad food groups, fat and sugar. Somehow, I don't think My Weight Watchers program would like this.

You go younger and smart son. (just make sure your health insurance is up to date.)

#31 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 10:35 PM:

[sniffs]I smell ...

mmmmmmmmm bacon.

#32 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 10:39 PM:

I've found that using bacon fat in place of butter in my famous pancake recipe gives 'em a whole different texture, and an even yummier taste.

#33 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 10:46 PM:

Thanks to NPR and science, we now know why bacon is often responsible for ruining many righteous vegetarians.

#34 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 11:20 PM:

Megpie71 #29: Indeed. I take it "The Goodies" is a British TV show? And of course, it's traditional that the making of sausage is better left unseen. (Is haggis considered a type of sausage?)

#35 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 11:27 PM:

Elliott, #18: Ah yes, I'd forgotten the "chewy vs. crispy" aspect. What most people describe as "crispy" bacon I think of as meat-flavored hardtack. There's a happy medium between "you can't pick it up without a fork" and "it hurts to bite down on it, and it can't really be chewed". This has caused occasional friction around the house, as my partner is firmly on the hardtack side of the issue.

American "Canadian bacon" has always seemed to me to be just a fancy term for ham packaged like sausage instead of as a haunch.

#36 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 11:42 PM:

You can make fabulous popcorn by popping it in bacon fat instead of oil.

#37 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 11:50 PM:

For our son's high-school graduation party, the rule we established before the menu was discussed much was, "Nothing you wouldn't want as leftovers." This meant that he opted to have no graduation cake, and wanted melted semi-sweet chocolate that could be drizzled over fruit, cookies, and crispy bacon. We heard for weeks that people left our open house and spoke at other houses, saying, "And the chocolate-covered bacon is fabulous! You have to have some sometime!"

#38 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 11:54 PM:

Ah, here it is. Mary Reilly's blog entry about the Bacon Lover's Candy Pack:

#39 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 12:19 AM:

Sadly, I doubt it's as good with fakon. Drat.

Well... I might try a variation on it anyway.

#40 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 12:32 AM:

Mary Kay. Cease thy humorless dorkery. A post about candied bacon is not an exercise in the finer nuances of nutritional theory. It is a joyful celebration of wretched excess.


My recipe for Bacon Brittle (or Brickle) is much the same as my recipe for Salted Nut Brickle (or Brittle); i.e., it's a waterless candy recipe -- essentially, sugar liquefied in butter -- in which all measurements, temperatures, and cooking times are relative and descriptive. Jim's head will explode if he tries to use it. He is a believer in precise level measurements. Me, I believe in strategies and physical characteristics.

Here's the beginning of the Salted Nut Brickle recipe:

less than a stick of butter
quite a lot of sugar
salt in a shaker
powdered cinnamon
blanched almonds and/or hazelnuts, unblanched walnuts and/or pecans, a pound or more total
non-stick cooking spray
aluminum foil

Have all your ingredients sitting close to hand, with jar lids off and packages already opened ...

It specifies all the important stuff.

To make Bacon Brittle, first, fry and otherwise maul a pound of good bacon until it's crisp and in small pieces. Remove the bits of bacon from the pan and set them somewhere nearby. Strain the rendered bacon fat through a fine-gauge strainer to remove all the bacon particulate. Measure it. You need a volume equal to 70% - 80% of a stick of butter. If you don't have enough, add butter to make up the lack.

Follow the Salted Nut Brickle recipe, but don't add the bacon bits as early as you'd add nuts. Ideally, you should add the bacon about half a minute before you reach the point described as "There will come a moment when the sugar and butter mixture will suddenly become markedly looser and more liquid." I realize that if you're making it for the first time, this moment will not be obvious to non-precognitives. I mention it so you'll know that if the sugar hits that point, you need to add the bacon immediately. Keep stirring.

Do all else as noted. Add more cinnamon and less salt than you would with just nuts. Be prepared for the candy to throw off some bacon fat as it cools. Just wipe off the excess once it's cool.

Bacon Brittle has an odd characteristic: it's self-limiting. People eat one piece and thoroughly enjoy it, but after that they don't want another. I suspect it would be less overwhelming if bacon fat only made up part of the fat content, and if the crunchy bits were mostly nuts with little crumbs of bacon mixed in amongst them.

#41 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 12:45 AM:

I do not like bacon. Sure, lard is wonderful cooking stuff, a good sausage is lovely, but I regard bacon the same way as hotdogs. Not suitable for human consumption due to the weird chemically aftertaste.

I do not know quite why I feel compelled to say this. Perhaps it is the impulse of the atheist when someone says, "We're all Christians here so let's have a prayer." There are actually people who do not like bacon and do like meat. Though I imagine we are rare in America.

Right, if anyone needs me I will be busily making sausage. Pork, beef, fat, salt, marjoram, garlic, casings, and NOTHING ELSE.

#42 ::: Keith Edwards ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 12:58 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) @25:

Have you had Voodoo Donuts Bacon Maple Bar? It will take care of your bacon, maple and sugar needs for about a month, but quite good.

#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 02:32 AM:

Yes, Ecky Thump is depicted in the episode of The Goodies entitled "Kung Fu Kapers".

You can watch Bill Oddie's account on YouTube. If Quentin Tarentino had seen it, Kill Bill would have been very different.

#44 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 02:56 AM:

Keith Edwards @ 42:

No, that always seemed like too much sugar for. I love bacon but I'm not a real fan of sugar in any form; I don't sweeten coffee or tea and I prefer citrus drinks with a minimum of sugar. And there are so many kinds of Voodoo Donuts to choose from!

#45 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 07:26 AM:

Teresa #40: You need a volume equal to 70% - 80% of a stick of butter.

That's about 3 fluid ounces or 80-90 ml.

Ideally, you should add the bacon about half a minute before you reach the point described

I'd probably miss that even after I'd done it a few times....

#46 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 12:17 PM:


Sweet should only be found in desserts. Yes, I know I'm a staunch upholder of the minority opinion. I just don't get how sugar makes everything better.

#47 ::: Madeley ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 12:59 PM:

One of my family's The Welsh Abroad stories revolves around breakfast during an American holiday when I was a kid. The abbreviated version: Mam was surprised that Americans would eat sweet and savoury breakfast foods all off the same plate, while the Americans were bemused by us asking for so many plates to eat separate foods off. From conversations I've had with American folk since then, I think the confusion stemmed from people putting bacon and maple syrup on pancakes rather than a major difference in dining habits.

The Transatlantic Bacon Issue's always amused me, as in my experience Brits are dead against mixing sweet and savoury. The non-Brit's reaction to the traditional cooked breakfast is almost always fun. I like the full works myself, including black pudding, cooked tomatoes and mushrooms. But I think this is becoming a bit old-fashioned, as I've noticed that other people my age and younger prefer to leave these items off.

A while ago, I made sweetcorn pancakes, with the recipe book suggested eating them with bacon and maple syrup. I was game, and it was lush. My wife was horrified.

#48 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 01:56 PM:

I generally prefer my sweet and savory separated, which has caused me to take a firm position on one side of one of the Great Jewish Culinary Wars: matzoh brei.

You can make this eggs and matzoh dish sweet or savory. Most people follow their own family traditions for this, though sometimes, when you have a mixed marriage, people will switch sides or even, like one of my friends, make it both ways. Some people compromise by making the sweet version only at breakfast time and making the savory version at other times.

But for me, it must be eggs and matzoh and salt and pepper . . . and sometimes garlic and/or sauteed onion.

Sweet matzoh brei: eggs and matzoh with sugar? Blech! Ewwww. Cannot do it.

#49 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 02:33 PM:

What most people describe as "crispy" bacon I think of as meat-flavored hardtack.

What most people think of as crispy bacon, I think of as reinforced charcoal. Soft bacon for me, please!

#50 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 05:48 PM:

Madeley #47:

If not bacon and maple syrup, what *does* one put on pancakes? (Rhetorical, as I'm a strong believer, if less so than formerly, in the Crepe Way of Life.)

The thing about Brit breakfasts that finally sunk me was the baked beans. How are beans breakfast food? But I loved the tomatoes.

#51 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 06:33 PM:

joann, #50: Maple syrup on pancakes, yes. Or if you're lucky enough to be at the Pancake Pantry in Nashville, the cinnamon-cream syrup, which is even better. But not bacon on the pancakes, and not bacon which has had the maple syrup run all into it.

I suspect I would get along well with the Brit breakfast, having long been a non-traditional-breakfast fan myself. When I was a young teen, my favorite summertime breakfast was a slice of bologna, a handful of Pringles, and a peach. Later, cold pizza (or pizza re-warmed in the microwave) was a popular option.

#52 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 06:40 PM:

Pie and cake also make excellent breakfasts.

It helps that my cakes are made with whole-wheat flour and wheatgerm, and usually have dates or raisins in them.

#53 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 07:35 PM:

A hunk of fish -- lean protein -- would make a good breakfast for someone who doesn't need a load of carbs to power them through farmwork or ditch-digging.

But I'm not sure if the tastes of orange juice and salmon would complement each other.

#54 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 07:47 PM:

What most people think of as crispy bacon, I think of as reinforced charcoal. Soft bacon for me, please!

Having just eaten a plate of bread with fried eggs and thick, chewy bacon slices; I can only burp my agreement. How do people even eat those vaguely bacon-flavoured plywood sheet bits that shatter like glass?

As for British breakfasts - they're good when I'm on holiday. My normal breakfast tends to consist of coffee, more coffee, and even more coffee until I possibly have some solid food by lunchtime.

#55 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 08:06 PM:

Melissa SInger @ 48:

Sweet matzoh brei: eggs and matzoh with sugar? Blech! Ewwww. Cannot do it.

Violent agreement. Whenever we make matzoh brei we have to separate it into 2 batches: one for me, which will never touch sugar (or jam <shudder>) and one for everyone else. Then I put cream cheese and lox on mine.

Stefan jones @ 53:

Many years ago, when I lived on the east coast and could find good deli without a pack train and guides, Sunday brunch (never get up on Sunday before 10 AM) consisted of bagels, cream cheese, onions or scallions, tomato, and either lox or smoked whitefish. ummmmmm nom nom nom.

#56 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 08:34 PM:


Of late I've been putting kiwi-lime marmalade on pancakes.

#57 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 09:05 PM:

Jam, maybe. Try them with blackberry preserves.
(My family likes applesauce on waffles. Or jam, or honey-and-butter. And sausage that's gotten maple syrup on it - not mixed in, but a little coating - is very tasty.)

My idea of crispy bacon is kind of crunchy in the meaty stripes, but not requiring a dangerous implement to create bite-sized pieces.

#58 ::: Claire MacDonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 09:27 PM:

Stefan Jones, #53

Now granted, my experience with salmon and citrus comes from them being cooked together, but I LOVE the idea of cold leftover grilled/baked salmon with a nice glass of orange juice.

Probably wouldn't want maple salmon, though - I find too much sweet makes the orange juice taste bad. My taste buds are odd in the morning. :(

As for the bacon style: definitely soft bacon. My father in law makes shoe leather in the microwave with perfectly good bacon. *shudder*

#59 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2012, 09:45 PM:

If this posts twice, my apologies--I got a fail notice after hitting post the first time.

Bruce Cohen @55: Back in the day, my father would go out early on Sundays once every couple of months to bring back bagels and lox for breakfast.

It's a treat I rarely have anymore; most places in my neighborhood only sell pre-packaged lox (ick--too oily) and the places that sell the fresh stuff charge an arm and a leg for it. Sometimes it's served at the synagogue for an event.

Once in my life I had _all the lox I wanted_. My grandmother threw a party for my grandfather at their shul (he was a big wheel there) and at the end of the luncheon, she handed me a large, chilly plastic box that she'd brought out of the kitchen. It was about half-full of nova. I took it home, and my roommate and I ate lox for days and days. We actually had enough lox to be able to give some to the cats. We felt decadent and hedonistic all week.

#60 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 12:08 AM:

There's indeed a big difference between warm and cold salmon.
* * *
Friday is Bagel and Donut morning at the office. Maybe four times a year, I show up early and leave out a slab of smoked salmon, a bowl of chopped red onion, and a jar of capers. It costs me a bit more than twice what buying a lox bagel just for myself would cost, but maybe a dozen people can have one of those magnificent sandwiches.

* * *
I occasionally mash up a tin of kippers and spread them on hard, thick Wasa crackers for breakfast. Not as good as salmon by long shot, but good.

#61 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 01:51 AM:

Melissa Singer @ 59:

Nice. Back in (oh, let's see ...) I think it was 1982 I was in Boston for SIGGRAPH and a meeting of the ANSI/ISO joint graphics standards committee. A friend, one of the standards reps, was SIGGRAPH conference chair; among other things, she was responsible for arranging the reception/party/major blowout for the conference. We took over the Boston Museum of Science (there were 20-25,000 conference attendees, and we figured there would be at least 5,000 people at the reception). So the guests wandered from exhibit to exhibit, noshing on sea food canapes arranged in big bowls of ice in nearly every room. The arrangements turned out to be somewhat overkill: we had fewer than 5,000 at the museum, and the food had been planned for more just in case, as in about 500 pounds of lobster plus Neptune alone knows how much shrimp and crab. So as the time to close the museum drew close, we were all encouraged to have as much as we wanted. Ummm, and I really love lobster, shrimp, and crab, but there was still quite a bit left for the catering crew to scarf up when we left.

#62 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 02:40 AM:

Bacon on pancakes? The Dutch do one better: bacon in pancakes. Fried right in there.

But then, the Dutch and pancakes. Standard options are plain, served with stroop (syrup a little like mild molasses) and powdered sugar; bacon; or cheese. Things get weirder and more exotic from there.

The only meal most Dutch people won't eat a pancake for is...breakfast. We've weirded out more than one friend of the kids by serving them so.

Also, I regard soft bacon and crisy bacon as two distinct and delicious foods.

#63 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 03:47 AM:

Me @43

On reflection, while Quentin Tarentino wouldn't get the specific British cultural references, he'd know exactly what the Goodies were sending up. And Uma Thurman would look good in a flat cap.

#64 ::: Madeley ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 05:35 AM:

Joann @ 50: You need your baked beans so you have something to mop up with your toast at the end. That's the best bit.

#65 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 08:11 AM:

Joann @50:

If not bacon and maple syrup, what *does* one put on pancakes? (Rhetorical, as I'm a strong believer, if less so than formerly, in the Crepe Way of Life.)

Either maple syrup on the pancakes and bacon next to the pancakes, or jam. I had a batch of triple-citrus (ruby grapefruit, blood orange, and Meyer lemon) marmalade fail to set this winter, and the resulting syrupy product is spectacular on pancakes.

#66 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 08:49 AM:

The British tradition on pancakes is lemon juice and powdered sugar, if people are looking for options.

#67 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 09:02 AM:

Rob Thornton @ 33: Regarding bacon and vegetarianism, I discovered recently that if you sauté thinly-sliced shiitake mushroom caps in olive oil until they are crisp, they taste JUST like crisp bacon. Really -- it is downright unnerving how similar the flavor is to bacon.

I do not think you could candy fried shiitake slices, though.

Re:the soft/crisp divide: Count me as a crisp-bacon fan. Soft bacon tastes weak and flabby to me. (Hey, if you're going to call my bacon charcoal, I can call yours weak.) I don't like it burned, but I do like it to crack and crunch when I bite it.

Regarding breakfast: While I usually eat cereal or poached eggs on toast, my very favorite leisurely breakfasts are those put on by my Polish best friend (which she got from her parents). Fresh-baked bread (best still warm -- a bread machine with delay timer helps here), sliced cold Polish ham and sausages, sliced gourmet cheese, sliced tomato and cucumber, choice of savory or sweet cream cheeses, and jam/jelly. Pile toppings onto slice of bread in whatever combination you like (open faced sandwich sort of thing), eat, repeat until full. I usually eat a few savory and a couple sweet. (I don't mix the savory with the sweet in that context, though I'm unopposed to the general idea of savory mixed with sweet.)

Oh, and good black tea. Bonus if tea is made Polish style, by brewing lots of loose tea in a small pot to make tea concentrate, then pouring concentrate into mugs and diluting with boiling water.

I think it's the assembly process that makes that breakfast feel so leisurely. You have time to chat while assembling little sandwiches and titrating your tea, and it transitions nicely into just chatting over tea once you're full.

#68 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 12:12 PM:

What you put on pancakes if it isn't butter/syrup/bacon?

Lingonberries or cherry jam.

#69 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 12:33 PM:

A typical breakfast for me in these fairly low-carb days is cream cheese (either salmon-flavor or plain accompanied by a small portion of lox) and some sort of fruit, usually a chunk of pineapple or a bunch of blueberries. Seems to mix sweet and savory on the same plate!

#70 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 12:43 PM:

abi@66: the Romam tradition on pancakes is apparently honey and black pepper. I've tried it and its not bad.

Of course, British pancakes aren't really pancakes, but attempted crepes. Unlike Scotch pancakes, which are pancakes.

#71 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 01:11 PM:

For breakfast pancakes, hot off the griddle, my family uses syrup or jam/jelly/preserves (with or without butter, to personal taste). But at lunchtime, leftover pancakes make a wonderful base for open-face toasted cheese sandwiches.

#72 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 01:13 PM:

praisegod barebones @70:

Scotch pancakes are pancakes made with whisky. Scottish pancakes may, however, be pancakes, depending on your definition.

#73 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 02:50 PM:

Abi@72 - Scotch pancakes are pancakes made with whisky.
Breakfast of champions?

I was omnivorous as a kid and young adult, but have been vegetarian for a couple of decades (lacto-ovo). Bacon never inspired me as a "gateway meat"; it's ok, but it's not, like, BBQ or the crunchy outside bits on a roast ham or beef, or that Burmese dried-shrimp stuff, or even just good sausage. I've occasionally gotten fake bacon bits for salad, but don't usually bother. (And unfortunately my work cafeteria has actual bacon at the salad bar.) I've tried the sauteed shiitake mushroom thing, and variants like roasting them with olive oil. They're pretty good, though I usually prefer fried king oyster mushrooms. And yeah, sugar-coating them doesn't seem like a great idea. (I've had mushrooms with chocolate, but those were, ummm, the special mushrooms, which are often made in chocolate for people who don't like eating them dried.)

On mixing sweet things and meat - other than some styles of BBQ sauce, or bacon getting maple syrup on it which I agree is a good thing, there's are a few Moroccan dishes which mix them. There are stews that have meat and fruit, usually slow-cooked in a tagine, and then there are phyllo-pastry things which usually have chicken inside and powdered sugar outside, which are really spectacular.

#74 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 04:24 PM:

I'm fond of fresh strawberries and whipped cream, myself, whether on pancakes, french toast, or waffles. Fresh berries of any kind, I'm sure would work. If I can't get fresh strawberries, then my fallback is honey.

One of these days I'm going to pick up my long-interrupted experiment of combining various honey flavors with various pancake recipes. Sage honey + buckwheat pancakes was a surprisingly good combination; the sage had just a bit of bite, which went well with the buckwheat earthiness.

As for mixing sweet and savory, one local Chinese buffet has a dish they call 'black pepper chicken', but should be named 'addictive honey-crisped chicken', and it's amazing. Duck a l'orange and pork with apples are another couple classic combinations.

#75 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 04:41 PM:

On pancakes -- peanut butter and/or "Birnendicksaft", pear juice cooked down until it's the consistency of syrup, but it's sweet and fruity and a little tart. Mmmmmm......

#76 ::: Madeley ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2012, 10:22 AM:

praisegod barebones @70: Conversely, American pancakes aren't really pancakes, but attempted pikelets.

#77 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2012, 11:13 AM:

Rob Thornton @33: Thanks to NPR and science, we now know why bacon is often responsible for ruining many righteous vegetarians.

It nearly ruined my husband*, but I should point it wasn't the bacon but the chocolate that tempted him. He was very surprised that _I_ was very surprised that he would want to finish off my Mo's bar. Then he looked more closely** at the packaging and understood.

*Vegetarian, yes. Righteous, not so much. At least, not of the self- variety.

**Although it must be said, Mo's Bacon Bar has a photo of a big wodge of bacon on the box. I'm not sure how one misses the bacon content even from across the room.

#78 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2012, 11:18 AM:

TNH @40: My recipe for Bacon Brittle (or Brickle) is much the same as my recipe for Salted Nut Brickle (or Brittle); i.e., it's a waterless candy recipe -- essentially, sugar liquefied in butter....

The lightbulb just went on: Pecan pralines are a brickle. Huh. At least, if you can substitute "milkfat" for "butter" in this definition.

(1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar. Dissolve in 1/2 cup heavy cream. Bring to boil. Add a bit of butter, a splash of amaretto, a quantity of pecan halves. Unlock achievement SOFT BALL STAGE. Remove from heat. Beat until mixture loses gloss. Drop by tablespoons onto wax paper. Lock the cats in the bedroom while the pralines harden.)

(Yes, you can add bacon.)

#79 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2012, 04:30 PM:

Melissa @48: I feel the same way about matzoh brei--and also about kugel (sweet kugel? ehch) and oatmeal. It's not that I dislike sweet-and-savory, but in those three items I want salt, not sugar (or raisins. Or brown sugar. Ew.)

This has caused a certain amount of dismay among friends and hosts, particularly regarding oatmeal: "we have brown sugar! and maple syrup." "No thanks. Just a little butter and milk, and some salt." "SALT!!?%#$!?" And they all move away on the Group W bench.

#80 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2012, 05:32 PM:

Madeleine: Since you're the one who taught my about real oatmeal, I blame you for the fact that I am even more confused than you about it, because I sometimes put in raisins (and/or bits of apple). . . and then salt the heck out of it. I've also done oatmeal with cheese melted in. But usually, butter and salt makes me happiest.

I like sweet kugel, but only if served _as dessert_. Served as a side dish, ewww.

Of course, one of my favorite comfort food dishes is basically cooked noodles mixed with cottage cheese (and well-salted). This is a Hungarian "recipe" I got from my grandmother, and it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that the original version of the dish includes . . . wait for it . . . crumbled BACON. It's not surprising that the Jewish/kosher version does not and I haven't been able to overcome the family tradition, so I always make it baconless, but damn that's tempting.

#81 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2012, 06:02 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @ #78, on making pralines:
Unlock achievement SOFT BALL STAGE

I lol'd on that one!

Love pralines, never have made them though. Watching my Mom make Divinity Fudge while I was growing up in New Orleans was how I learned about soft ball stage, as well as learning that the weather is important when cooking fudge, even though I've never actually used that knowledge while cooking. I'm a recipe person, and there are few dishes I've learned to "wing it" on.

The candied bacon, though, sounds simple enough to try...

#82 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2012, 07:32 PM:

Melissa Singer I've also done oatmeal with cheese melted in.

Seattle food writer Matthew Amster-Burton sings the praises of oatmeal with candied bacon (in his book Hungry Monkey, about cooking for his daughter)

#83 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2012, 07:51 PM:

Both my husband's family and mine serve fruit compotes on our pancakes (alcohol content determined by the cook). Whipped cream is optional, but encouraged.

#84 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2012, 08:01 PM:

I suspect I'll be nuking up some bacon this weekend . . . balanced by some oatmeal.

#85 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2012, 12:01 AM:

Victoria@46: "Sweet should only be found in desserts."

"With proper planning," said Humpty Dumpty, "*every* meal of the day can be dessert."

#86 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2012, 01:54 AM:

abi @ 72: I know that 'Scotch' is often misused in contexts where 'Scottish' would be appropriate, but I don't think that referring to what in Scotland are normally called 'drop scones' as 'Scotch pancakes' is a misuse.

When I google 'Scottish pancakes' at least half the pages that come up are actually headed 'Scotch pancakes'; when I google 'Scotch pancakes' I don't get any links to 'Scottish pancakes'. So I think that - at least in the UK - 'Scotch pancakes' belong with 'Scotch whisky' and 'scotch eggs' as legitimate uses of 'Scotch'.

('Scotch tape' is another story.)

#87 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2012, 08:50 PM:

I think the candied bacon recipe has just saved me - my contribution for tomorrow's potluck. :)

They'll never know what hit them. *eg*

#88 ::: Chris Borthwick ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2012, 10:07 PM:

And for a real stab at the unhealthfulness record, it's an ideal dish to caffeinate; just mix in enough powdered caffeine (available from any good chemical supply house) to provide about an espresso equivalent for each serving....
It's not always easy to find something strongly flavoured enough to overcome caffeine's natural bitterness, but this works a treat.

#89 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 02:23 AM:

praisegod barebones @86:

Ah, OK. When I lived in Scotland, they were called "pancakes", or "drop scones". Unlike, say, Scotch eggs, which do not become mere eggs when one crosses the Tweed heading north.

#90 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 12:39 PM:

cajunfj40 @ 81: Divinity is something I really should learn how to make. I didn't realize how much I missed pecan divinity until I sampled Glacier Ice Cream's butter pecan gelato and just about went to heaven. It tasted exactly like the delicacy in my memories, and the pecans tasted like actual Louisiana pecans to boot.

(Note to self: pick up a couple bags on next visit home.)

Cooking the dishes of my childhood has been a huge part of keeping homesickness at bay.

The praline recipe isn't as imprecise as it sounds -- well, at least not in measurements. I was away from home and couldn't reference the exact quantities of butter or pecans from the index card my paternal grandmother wrote up for me years ago. As for "beat until it loses its gloss," that's honestly an unmistakable thing. It happens very suddenly. I think I gasped out loud the first time I watched it happen under my nose.

Of course, saying "you can't miss it" is a sure way to jinx it for the next person. I know I failed at spotting the sudden moment of thickening in Teresa's bacon-and-egg-soup recipe.

#91 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 11:54 AM:

#85 Andrew Plotkin
"With proper planning," said Humpty Dumpty, "*every* meal of the day can be dessert."

I don't remember thinking that would be good, even as a kid. However, I've always been a fan of savory. My sweet tooth was more pronounced as a child but it keeps shrinking as I age.

It's gotten to the point where I will skip milk chocolate chocolates because all I can taste is the sugar. There are a few high end chocolatiers who are the exceptions, but it's not worth the effort of finding them during non-holiday times.

#92 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 11:55 AM:

Take the bacon from a 12-oz. package, cut the slab crosswise into quarters.

Fry the quartered strips of bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels.

Melt and temper[1] about 3/4 pound dark chocolate

Using a dipping fork, dip the bacon pieces in the chocolate, covering them thoroughly. Place each piece on parchment paper to cool.

The finished pieces should be ready to serve in about two hours.

For best results, serve to hipsters; you will own their souls.

[1] Something of a black art, I'm afraid.

#93 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 01:11 PM:

Hmmm... but does it beat deep fat fried Twinkies? See:

#94 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 01:35 PM:

I don't think I've eaten a Twinkie in about 40 years.

And my teenage daughter never has.

#95 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 03:21 PM:

Melissa, #94: Twinkies aren't what they used to be, and a lot of people have stopped eating them, or never started. Enough, in fact, that Hostess is facing bankruptcy*. Hostess is blaming unions for its financial troubles, but its primary (and thriving) competitor, Bimbo Bakeries, is not only fully-unionized but pays better than Hostess for the same positions. Hostess just doesn't want to admit that it's lost market share because it makes a lousy product.

* Warning: a couple of moderately-obnoxious popups on that site, but it does include some information I thought was important.

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