Am I too late for this bandwagon?
If bacon has left the building and ham is the new swine product of choice, then I’m totally running a little behind on the up-and-up here. It’s like I got the memo that bacon was on the out, but I tossed it into a pile of other memos that include not wearing acid wash jeans after 1986 and how Pluto isn’t a planet anymore. Bacon is so last year, the memo says. Artisanal ham is what we’re supposed to be doing now. But guys, I dunno about this. The 80s can have its acid wash, but as for bacon and Pluto, I can’t let go. Not yet.
Pluto was that odd-tastic planet that was too faraway to see or understand until a few years ago. And apparently, scientists didn’t like what they saw, so it was hastily snipped out of textbooks and disowned by the planetary family. All because it was a “dwarf” planet. Harsh.
And bacon! What has it ever done to us to make us want to drop it like a hot potato? This bacon thing, to me, is not a fling. There is still so much to explore before we throw in the towel.
Fortunately, there are others that feel the same way with both Pluto and bacon. And if any of you bacon/Pluto fans are out there in hiding, you’re not alone. But we are indeed fighting an uphill battle, one that we may ultimately lose. But on the bright side, we can still keep bacon and the former ninth planet in our hearts. Pluto may have been nixed, but there’s still time for bacon to realize its full potential. And, if the meat candy’s decline is ultimately imminent, so be it. We tried.
But let’s send bacon out with a bang, shall we?
I guess the only thing I can contribute here is a better-late-than-never bacon recipe, with the breakfast meat rolled into a chewy caramel. Salty, sweet, chewy and sticky, with a crunch. It’s bacon in it’s most familiar forms, suited for war, ready to take on the inevitable uphill battle.
Yield: 80 to 100 caramels
- 14 strips thick cut bacon
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay bacon strips on sheet and bake in oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate to cool. Crumble 5 to 6 strips of bacon and leave the rest in strips.
2. Line an 9×13 (or larger!) rimmed baking sheet with parchment. In a heavy-bottomed pot (I love my Le Creuset), add sugar, water and corn syrup over medium-high heat. Let mixture bubble and stir occasionally, to evaporate water. Sugar will begin to caramelize and turn a lovely shade of amber.
3. Use a thermometer to monitor caramel. When it reaches 320 degrees and is golden brown in color, slowly whisk in cream, butter and vanilla, until completely combined. When caramel reaches 243 degrees, remove from heat and pour into lined baking sheet. Cool for 15 minutes, and add bacon strips. Cool further, until caramel is pliable and easier to handle.
4. Roll caramel and bacon strips jelly-roll style once, and trim off excess. Continue to roll and trim until you’ve finished off the pan. Cut the bacon caramel logs into bite-sized pieces. Top with reserved bacon bits.
Serve on a platter, or roll in wax paper. Keep refrigerated, but let come to room temperature before eating.
P.S.: Short posts this week and next because I’m in vacation mode. I’ll be back in full swing at the end of September, when hopefully, I will have moved into a new home. Thank you always for reading!
– Cynthia Furey