Monday, July 14, 2014

Five Ways to Use Bacon!

I don't think I've met too many people who didn't find bacon one of the most desired meats on the menu. The salty goodness makes your mouth water just thinking about it. Do you know any of these non-standard ways of using it?

1. Gravy. Who doesn't like a good gravy for their mashed potatoes or chicken fried steak? Well, it just got a million times better. Render your bacon, starting in a cold pan, until all the fat is in the pan and the meat is as cooked as you prefer it, then take it out of the pan to drain and rest. Add a little butter or oil if the bacon fat doesn't seem to be much. Sprinkle just enough flour into the pan that it soaks up the grease and whisk until you see no lumps and it has cooked to a light golden color. Whisk your liquids into your pan slowly and constantly so that you don't build a gravy with lumps.

Depending on your intentions for the gravy, there are a few different liquids that are good to complete a gravy with. Chicken broth makes the gravy light brown, usually preferred for potatoes by quite a few people. Beef broth makes the gravy a fantastic sauce to add a little depth to steaks and it's good to heat meatballs in with a spoon of sour cream and a dash of Worcestershire sauce for tang. Whisk milk into your flour and fat if you want a good white gravy for things such as biscuits and gravy or you want something to dip your fried chicken in.

Each of these gravies just need salt and pepper to make them worthy of accompaniment with tons of meats and veggies. You choose how you want your gravy seasoned. Cook up some cauliflower and puree with some butter and milk/cream/sour cream for a faux mashed potato to put gravy on. Your kids won't believe their tastebuds and you make a better choice for yourself in the process.

2. Stuff it. I mean it. Anything that can be stuffed with something deserves to be stuffed with bacon. Cut a chicken breast open and stuff it with spinach, bacon, and onions. Cut a pork chop open and stuff the hole with a mixture of small bread cubes, butter, bacon, and your favorite herbs. Got to make a big bird or roast for an occasion or just feeling like some rotisserie? Make a big pan of stuffing to eat with that pile of meat. Pulverize a bunch of stale bread and give it some love with your preferred broth, rendered bacon fat, and chopped up cooked bacon. Mix in lots of fresh herbs and some fresh minced garlic. Talk about a winner!

3. Wrap it. If you can fry it, you can fry it with bacon wrapped around it. Hot dogs in the fryer? Why not? Wrap that dog with some bacon and taste the magic. Corn dogs? Yes, those too. Bump up that after school snack with a bacon-wrapped corndog. You won't regret it. Your pants might...but who says they get a say in this? Wrap up that meatloaf before you put it in the oven. Wrap up chicken legs before you roast them with some bbq. Wanna grill something? You know what I'm going to say. Wrap it with bacon, baste it with bacon fat, and put a little bacon in that Bloody Mary while you're waiting for Mr. Grill. Burgers and bacon are best friends. Don't like asparagus much? Wrap it with bacon and throw that on the grill or into the oven. Corn on the cob gets a nice salty bite to it's natural sweet when it's wrapped up in bacon. Wrap it around green beans and put the beans down into a foil pan with a little bit of brown sugar or honey and roast it a while.

4. Sandwich it. Put it with your favorite greens on some bread with a deliciously juicy green or red tomato for your own style of BLT. Put it in between bread with some sloppy joes. Put it on a burger. Put it on a chicken sandwich. Make a wrap with any of these ideas if you don't have bread or want less carbs. My favorite wrap is a good use for it. Cheeseburger wraps are quick and easy, with the option of using whatever kind of ground meat you could possibly wish to use, as it all tastes good with bacon. I cook up the bacon in one pan and the ground meat in another. When the ground meat is finished, I mix in some ketchup and mustard. Fill a tortilla with your ground meat mixture and top it with your choice of cheese, bacon, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and whatever else you want wrapped up in it. You won't be sorry when you get a taste of this one.

5. Last but not least is pasta. There is so much I could say here, but I'm going to stick with what happens to be my favorite pasta dish...spaghetti alla carbonara. You cook up your pasta, then bacon, keeping a tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan, then throw them together in your bacon pan after chopping the bacon. Beat a couple eggs with some good parmesan or similar hard cheese and pour into the pasta pan. Toss the pasta constantly until coated and the sauce is thick, keeping the pan off of the heat. Salt and pepper to taste, just remember that bacon and parm are both quite a bit salty. I add lots of black pepper before serving because it gives it a good depth of flavor for me.

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