Posted: 11:50 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
I could wax on poetically about how much I love bacon and bourbon, but let's face facts: I am a software consultant that cusses a lot during basketball season, so I am not sure I can actually execute in the "wax poetically" realm.
Keys to a great tailgate: bacon and bourbon. More specifically: bacon. Opening Day was a blur. I was anxious about a lot of things and mostly concerned with getting enough food on the table. For the second tailgate, Murph and I talked about how hard it is to feed people for a night game. There needs to be an established meal and there should be snacks. We knew if we put bacon on the table, it would be consumed (and quite possibly the grease would help with the alcohol consumption). I knew if we kicked it up a notch, it would be superb.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 27-28 mins (depending on the thickness of your bacon, see notes)
Yield: 10-12 servings
1 pound of thick-sliced smoked bacon (approximately 20 slices)
¼ cup of good maple syrup
Black pepper in a grinder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon on the baking rack. Use a pastry brush to coat the bacon lightly with the maple syrup. Grind black pepper across the rack of bacon. Bake for 8 minutes.
Pretend that I remembered to take a picture of the coating of the bacon with the syrup and perhaps the peppering of the bacon. Sometimes a girl is preoccupied with writing a status report and drinking a beer and looking for a wireless speaker audio cable.
Remove the pan from the oven. Using tongs, flip each slice of bacon over. Coat the bacon lightly with maple syrup. Grind black pepper across the rack of bacon. Bake for 8 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven. Repeat the flip, coat, and pepper process for the last time. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Serving size is based on 1-2 slices per person, give or take.
Let's talk bacon. My all time favorite bacon is Benton's, but it is expensive and sometimes can be hard to find. Think of Benton's the way you would a 20-plus-year-old scotch. You don't mix that. What I am trying to say is use a decent bacon, but not one that maybe makes your entire refrigerator smell like a smokehouse. We rely on the thick sliced applewood smoked bacon you can find in a double pack at Costco (not the Kirkland brand, but the one that costs slightly more).
Another thing to mention about Costco bacon is that it is significantly thicker than any of the bacon we have found in our local grocery stores. If you are using super thick bacon, you may want to increase the cook time to 10, 10, 15 minutes.
This is not "pig candy". Pig candy generally uses brown sugar and maple syrup and ends up being crunchy. This bacon will be fully cooked but a little chewy. Not beef jerky chewy, not limp and not crisp. Got it?
If you do not have black pepper in a grinder (we ran out the last time we made this), you can sub ground black pepper but keep in mind: the flavor will be stronger, so use sparingly.
If you remember last week's post, this is the bacon pictured next to the open-faced Joe.
I suggest enjoying this with a sweet tea bourbon and the 45 people you love most. Also, if you are going to serve 45 people, maybe adjust this recipe as needed. You're a Barner, you can handle math. #wardamn