I’ve long said that if I were… given a choice of my last meal, it would be bacon and eggs. There are few sights that appeal to me more than the streaks of lean and fat in a good side of bacon, or the lovely round of pinkish meat framed in delicate white fat that is Canadian bacon. Nothing is quite as intoxicating as the smell of bacon frying in the morning, save perhaps the smell of coffee brewing. ~ James Beard (1903-1985)
Who doesn’t love bacon? Vegetarians, perhaps, but the majority of us adore and crave this smoky and cured fatty meat prepared in countless ways. Fried and served with eggs is certainly bacon in it’s purest form and one of the items that our weekend’s best breakfasts are made of, but there are multitudes of ways to serve and include bacon in your cooking.
I love bacon sautéed in a recipe, using the rendered fat to give a complexity and depth of flavor to hearty dishes and sauces. When you’re not sure what that “particular” flavor is in a dish, many times it is bacon or pancetta that has been cooked long hours with the meats or poultry, liquids, and mirepoix. Bacon is also the perfect addition when cooking vegetables, like braised brussel sprouts, lending them a richness and unctuous flavor.
So, if bacon is this good all by itself and in other dishes, why not dress it up a bit and make it the centerpiece of your meal? Candied bacon with a sorghum glaze for sweetness combined with Bourbon Smoked Paprika for just a bit of heat. Oh, my. When this recipe gets around, we just might have that bacon shortage that everyone was talking about last Fall.
Bourbon Barrel Foods is a small artisan specialty foods company located in Louisville, Kentucky. We have known Matt Jamie, the owner and founder, for several years and worked with him on our last On The Road culinary adventures tour to Louisville with Julian P. Van Winkle, III (Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon) in October 2012. He hosted our cooking demonstration and lunch with chefs Anthony Lamas (Seviche, A Latin Restaurant) and Bobby Benjamin (La Coop Bistro) at his warehouse facility in the Meat Packing District in downtown Louisville. The chefs used several of his ingredients in preparing their dishes for our lunch.
Matt is the only person in the United States fermenting and producing a small-batch soy sauce made from non-GMO soybeans grown locally in Kentucky. Better yet, he ages it in used bourbon barrels to make his unique Bluegrass Soy Sauce. Starting his company in 2006 with the idea of creating his small-batch soy sauce, Matt’s product line and business has expanded and he is now also the largest distributor in the United States of locally produced sorghum grown and made in Kentucky.
Focused on preserving and promoting local traditional ingredients, like sorghum, Matt has also created an entire specialty line of foods which include some of what Kentucky is best known for…Bourbon. Almost all of his products include bourbon in some capacity. Whether they are smoked with it, aged in bourbon barrels, or include a bit of this tasty libation, his gourmet food products represent the Bluegrass State well. Bourbon Barrel Foods is appropriately named.
In addition to his two best-known products, Bluegrass Soy Sauce and Pure Cane Sorghum, other favorites include Bourbon Smoked Paprika and Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt. Many chefs across the country, particularly in the Southeast, use and feature Matt’s products on their menus. We had several dishes, while in Charleston this month, that specifically mentioned Bourbon Barrel Foods’ Pure Cane Sorghum, Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt, or Kentuckyaki Sauce.
Most recently, Matt formed a partnership with Woodford Reserve to create several new products, including the Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters, which were released with rave reviews. Think of the endless possibilities for those cocktails…they could even be served with a slice or two of Sorghum Glazed Bacon. Hmmm…
Thickly sliced applewood smoked bacon works best for this recipe. You don’t want a heavily smoked bacon, but rather, a milder, almost sweet bacon. You will achieve the smoky flavor with a touch of heat from the Bourbon Smoked Paprika.
Sauté the bacon in a pan, using a bacon press if possible, to flatten the bacon. It will brown evenly and make for a nicer presentation if you are leaving the slices whole when serving. I sautéed the bacon until the meat was just slightly brown, but the fat was not. Don’t overcook the bacon as you will continue to cook the bacon in the oven and the sorghum glaze will also help to further cook and brown the bacon.
Place the bacon slices on an oiled rack over a pan covered in aluminum foil (for easy clean-up). Brush both sides of the bacon slices with the glaze. Place in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for approximately seven to ten minutes. Be sure to check the bacon frequently as it can quickly become too brown due to the sugar content in the sorghum.
Remove the bacon and glaze both sides again, returning to the oven to cook another two to four minutes, checking constantly. You want the bacon to be beautifully glazed and browned, but not burned. When the bacon is removed from the oven, the slices will harden and crisp up from the sugary glaze and will be perfect to chop or serve in sandwiches. Remember, the more you open the oven door, the longer it will take to cook. If you can peek in through a glass window to check the browning process, that will leave the heat in your oven and the bacon will brown quicker.
Can’t you just imagine these sweet and smoky bacon slices in a BLT with some of summer’s ripest and juiciest heirloom tomatoes, on slices of homemade yeasty white bread, topped with crisp leaf lettuce and slathered with an eggy mayonnaise?! July can’t come fast enough!
I hope you will try some of the Bourbon Barrel Food products in your own recipes. If you head over to the Bourbon Barrel Foods website (the link is also in my sidebar), be sure to take a look at one of my favorite items that Matt sells that is not food, an *Eat Your Bourbon t-shirt. Now, I think after this recipe, we need to create an Eat Your Bourbon with Bacon t-shirt. Whadya think?
* Please contact Bourbon Barrel Foods directly if you are interested in ordering an Eat Your Bourbon t-shirt, Pure Cane Sorghum or other products.
Sorghum Glazed Bacon
Yield: 4 glazed slices of bacon
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Glaze thickly sliced applewood smoked bacon with sorghum combined with Bourbon Barrel Foods' Bourbon Smoked Paprika. The sweetness of the sorghum is balanced out with the heat of the paprika and has just a subtle hint of bourbon. Add the glazed bacon chopped in salads, use it for sandwiches, or just eat as a snack. It is almost like candy. :-) This recipe makes just four slices, but you can easily double or triple the recipe.
2 Tablespoons Pure Kentucky Sorghum
1/4 teaspoon Bourbon Smoked Paprika
4 slices thickly sliced applewood smoked bacon
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend the sorghum with the paprika in a small dish with a whisk and set aside.
2. Cook bacon slices in a large skillet until the meat begins to brown slightly and the fat is still not cooked all the way through (you do not want the bacon to be fully cooked since it will cook further in the oven). Use a bacon press to keep the bacon slices flat, if you have one. Remove the bacon. Drain on paper towels, patting the excess fat.
3. Place an oiled wire rack on top of a pan that has been lined with aluminum foil (this will allow for an easier clean-up). Place the bacon slices on the rack and brush both sides with the glaze. Place in preheated oven and cook for about seven to ten minutes, checking after seven minutes. You don't want the bacon to brown too quickly.
4. Before the bacon becomes completely brown and cooked, remove the pan and baste each slice again with the glaze, on both sides. Return to the oven and cook for another two to four minutes. Again, check to be sure the bacon is not browning too quickly. The sugar in the sorghum can quickly cause the bacon to burn.
5. Remove from the oven and let the bacon sit until it cools. It will harden and crisp up as it cools. Use in recipes, as desired.
Original recipe by Gwen Pratesi