With a meaty bite and savoury smoky palate, who can resist bacon? Its flavour profile and versatility have broken bacon out breakfast time, as chefs have found diverse ways to showcase this delectable meat that have diners craving it long after noon. Bacon may be the most popular first-meal meat, but it’s not just for breakfast anymore.
Give a punch to this sweet North American treat by adding bacon pieces to the mix. Payton Curry, chef and owner of the Brat Haus in Scottsdale, Arizona, also incorporates locally grown pecans into his restaurant’s Haus Brittle and a healthy dose of Controne chilies for “the desert kick.”
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Can’t go wrong with the sweet-and-savoury dynamic, and bacon is the perfect centrepiece for Curry’s take on this palate-pleasing combo. He tosses rendered bacon into a hot concoction of honey and cardamom before roasting it in the oven and finishes it off by gently tossing it in brown sugar.
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Why settle for salt and pepper when you can sprinkle on bacon instead? Curry cooks bacon strips in a 150 (300 F)-degree C oven on a rack inside a baking traying until all fat has been rendered and the bacon appears dry. After it cools to room temperature, he grinds it into a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Curry even sprinkles it on popcorn.
Get a second life out of that bacon fat and use it in a more creative fashion. Curry clarifies his purified bacon fat and pours it into recycled jam jars for the base. He inserts raw wicks purchased from a craft store, and his homemade candle is ready to waft bacon goodness into the air.
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It’s the only way celebrity chef and restaurateur Brian Malarkey of Searsucker can get his kids to eat this vegetable. This combo is featured on his restaurant’s menu, but Malarkey suggested making it at home anytime by blanching the sprouts, crisping them up in a frying pan with a little olive oil and adding a healthy dose of cooked, crumbled bacon.
To revisit this classic, Malarkey suggested browning and crisping up bacon or pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, draining it on paper towels and dicing. Serve the bacon on a fresh wedge of butter lettuce along with diced tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles. “Finish with your favourite salad dressing to complement the blue cheese flavours,” Malarkey said. Try one with a white wine base.
Warm bacon dressing
Give a spinach salad a hearty edge with a drizzle of warm vinaigrette that has a bacon-fat base, recommended Pauline Martinez, owner of Perk Eatery. Save rendered bacon fat after frying and concoct your own dressing, using the fat as you would olive oil. Crumble cooked bacon for crunchy homemade bacon bits.
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Bacon gives dishes children love a mature twist. Martinez likes to spruce up the tried-and-true mac-and-cheese with bacon and Gruyere, and she gives diners at her restaurant the option of having bacon and tomatoes in a grilled cheese sandwich.
Related: How to get your kids to love veggies
Bacon bloody Mary
There’s another way to enjoy this meat over breakfast, and chef Kevin Binkley, James Beard Foundation Award finalist and owner of Cafe Bink, serves it to patrons at his restaurant. House-made bacon-infused vodka is mixed with tomato juice, bacon hot sauce and the usual bloody Mary fixings and garnished with bacon salt and a perfectly cooked bacon strip. “It has a little zing and the added smokiness of the bacon.”
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End the meal with a bacon bang. Homemade ice cream makers can take a cue from the Sweet Republic artisan ice cream shop in Scottsdale by adding chopped pieces of cooked bacon into the mix. Or make popcorn a decadent treat by covering it in rendered bacon pieces that have been dowsed in chocolate and caramel, like that served at Cowboy Ciao restaurant in Scottsdale.