Tag Archives: bacon

Pork and Plum Salad

31 Dec

pork and plum salad

It’s hard being thousands of miles from family during the holidays, so I’ve been doing what I usually do to cheer myself up – planning and cooking elaborate meals. Since it’s summer here, and it’s just two of us to eat everything, I haven’t been cooking the traditional, heavy holiday feasts, but instead trying to come up with dishes that allude to the usual traditions. Fish preparations for holiday eves, for example. And this salad, which I’d planned to have roast rabbit or duck – along with the plums, I thought, it would be appropriate. But I couldn’t find anything quite so exotic in the nearby markets. Disappointed, I nearly scraped the dish altogether, but I decided instead to cook up a pork shoulder and use the pulled pork here instead. It ended up matching the variety of flavors here better than I’d expected, with the rich savoriness of the pork balanced by sweetness from plums, earthiness from mushrooms, and a crunch from almonds. Though the combination might seem unusual, it makes for a unique and elegant salad, great as an appetizer for a fancy meal or as a meal in and of itself.

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Bacon Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

3 Sep

bacon balsamic brussels sprouts

I know brussels sprouts are traditionally a much hated food, but I love them. Like other cabbages (which I also love), I find them best when still crisp (or even raw!). Here, in my favorite preparation for brussels sprouts (and one that I think could convert those who normally aren’t fans), they’re seared in bacon fat, then finished in a balsamic reduction, so while the insides are still crisp, the edges are soft and caramelized, and every bite is imbued with the sweet and tangy flavor of the balsamic. As a bonus, they’re also very quick and easy to make. You can make lots of tasty additions to this basic recipe, including chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts would all be good here), grated cheese (parmesan, gruyere, or gouda, to get you started), raisins, or crumbled bacon from the slices you cooked up to get the bacon fat used here, of course.

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Maple Bacon S’mores

6 Apr

maple bacon s'mores

Okay, it might be a little silly for me to post a recipe for s’mores. I know, you already know how to make s’mores. It’s really so simple, just marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. But these were easily the best I’ve ever had. Very different from what I had as a kid (and I wonder what me as a kid would have thought of these). The salty-sweet combination with bacon in the homemade marshmallows and smoked salt on the homemade graham crackers adds another dimension to this classic dessert. As I’ve gotten older, my chocolate preferences have shifted away from milk chocolate and towards dark chocolate, and this was the perfect place to embrace that. Dark chocolate (60% cocoa content or higher ideally) helps these seem sophisticated instead of sickeningly sweet (although, okay, they’re still quite sweet). These s’mores were the perfect way to kick off the grilling season during the recent abnormally warm weather, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have to make them the next time I go camping. I think my young self would approve; these are the best of both worlds: playful and messy to tap into your inner kid but complex enough to please your adult taste buds.

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Maple Bacon Marshmallows

2 Apr

maple bacon marshmallows

The moment I laid eyes on the recipe for these marshmallows, I was determined to make them for s’mores as in the linked recipe (look for my version of the s’mores later in the week). Despite my excitement about this particular combination of flavors, this ended up being a particularly divisive recipe, with reactions varying from enthusiastic pleas for a taste to an incredulous “there’s meat in those?” Bacon in marshmallows may indeed seem strange but when it’s candied bacon alongside maple syrup, it actually makes a lot of sense, especially if you (like me) love salty-sweet combinations. If you had the same reaction as me, you already know you want to make this recipe. If you’re on the edge though, not sure if you’re up to something this strange, I’d like to encourage you to take the plunge. Of course, you could also make this recipe and omit the candied bacon; the base marshmallow is surprisingly easy to throw together with very impressive results. Having never had homemade marshmallows prior to this, I was very pleasantly surprised at the great fluffy yet sticky texture and sweet but not cloying flavor, reminiscent of but far superior to the store bought variety.

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Candied Bacon

26 Mar

candied bacon

Today marks a special milestone for my blog. For more than six months, I’ve been posting here three times a week every week, and this post right here is my 100th post. I struggled trying to come up with the absolutely perfect recipe for this occasion. I wanted something I was really proud of, something unique and delicious, something salty and sweet. And when I came across this recipe, I knew it was the one. Candied bacon. Could anything be more perfect? The combination of salty, sweet, spicy, and smoky is unbelievably decadent and addictive. Not too difficult to make but certainly not an every day recipe (because it’s not every day that you use a whole pound of bacon). Only five ingredients, but still customizable – you can change the spices, use all brown sugar, or use all maple syrup for some great variations. Thanks to everyone who’s encouraged me along the way, by cooking the recipes and giving me feedback, taste testing my experiments, or just reading the blog! I can’t wait to put up another 100 posts.

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Pea and Prosciutto Salad

15 Feb

pea and prosciutto salad

So I have this problem. If I get hungry and don’t rush to fill my stomach, I start to get grumpy. Very grumpy. Woe be unto those in the near vicinity grumpy. Unfortunately, I also often work late, and with my tendency to make cooking dinner a multiple hour affair, this means that I have far more grumpy evenings than I would like. Since I can only snack on mixed nuts (my usual remedy) for so long, one night I found myself tossing together this quick pea and prosciutto salad to get myself through cooking dinner. The combination of the peas’ crisp fresh flavor with the richness of the prosciutto turned out so delicious that I knew immediately I’d be making it again. I could see this dish being an extraordinary side to roast chicken or steak. Next time I make it, I’m thinking of drizzling some balsamic into the pan when adding the peas and prosciutto for an extra bit of tang.

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Pig in the Garden Salad

23 Dec

pig in the garden salad

I recently visited Nashville and happened to stop in at a chain called Jim ‘n Nick’s BBQ. I had been told that their “Pig in the Garden” salad was outstanding, and although I usually like my pulled pork in sandwich form, I went with the recommendation. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the crisp lettuce and crunchy almonds were the perfect complement to the pulled pork, and the use of both salad dressing and barbecue sauce bordered on ingenious. Of course, it didn’t hurt that there was also bacon involved. Shortly after returning home, I set about attempting to recreate this salad, and I’m pleased to report that this homemade version is not only delicious but also simple to make. My rendition omits croutons (because I’m not really a fan) and grape tomatoes (because they’re not in season), but feel free to include these to be truer to the original.

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Breakfast Salad

12 Dec

breakfast salad

Inspired by breakfast flavors, this salad is tasty at any time of day. Bacon and eggs are, of course, crucial elements here, where they play quite nicely with bell pepper, pickled jalapeno, and preserved lemon. A warm bacon vinaigrette pulls the whole salad together. This salad can be easily adapted – I think sundried tomatoes would be a great addition (or substitution), as would fresh diced avocado.

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Chile Con Carne

9 Dec

chile con carne

Tread carefully with this chili. This is not your tame ground beef and tomatoes; no, this chili is a whole different beast, a dark fiery primal stew. Here you’ll find whole chunks of beef swimming amidst the flavors of smoky chipotle peppers and spicy chili powder. There is an incredible depth here due to the inclusion of cocoa powder, beer, and coffee (trust me, you want all of these in your chili). I was inspired by a traditional Texas red but chose to include tomatoes and beans (which many will debate, I know) – you can omit these if you want, and your chili will still be really tasty. This is not a quick meal as you have to let the chili simmer for 4+ hours (a slow cooker may work well here), but it is very much worth it.

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Stuffed Pumpkin

23 Nov

stuffed pumpkin

We’re approaching the end of pumpkin season, so I’ll be posting my very best pumpkin recipes this week and next week. Luckily, pumpkins keep well for a couple months (and my pumpkin puree will keep good for 6 months or more when frozen) which means after you buy up those last pumpkins, you’ll have ample time to cook these delicious recipes!

This recipe manages to be both simple and impressive. Placing a whole cooked pumpkin in the center of the table is sure to elicit compliments from your dinner companions, and the combination of cooked pumpkin flesh with bread, cheese, bacon, spinach, and apple is perfect for fall. This stuffed pumpkin would make a great Thanksgiving side but can also serve as a complete meal. Feel free to get creative when choosing what to stuff your pumpkin with; cooked rice or another grain can be used in place of bread, you can use whatever cheese you have on hand, and nearly any of the ingredients can be omitted or replaced and still result in a delicious dish. You can even cut a butternut squash in half and stuff the halves if you can’t get your hands on a pumpkin.

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