The problem with things becoming trendy is their ultimate decline. They become cliche, tired and untouchable after their frenzied glory has reached its peak. Like cupcakes and owls, bacon is on the steady decline to oversville.
This is why bacon needs us, its true and steady fans. We will still be here after the adoration of the pig is passe, tossing it in our salads, sprinkling it in our ice cream bowls, wrapping it around jalepenos or enjoying it straight from the pan. So what are we waiting for? Let’s make candy with it.
I know it surprises people, making candied bacon, but it’s hardly a stretch: anyone who’s had pancakes with maple syrup and bacon knows what sublime things occur when bacon marinates in maple syrup. I found a recipe on Chow that combines the power or maple syrup and brown sugar to create sticky sweet bacon. I had a couple problems with it, though: the video shows someone using a brush to apply the sweet mix to the strips of bacon. Given their proportions in their recipe this is a boldfaced lie. My mixture came together like wet sand just out of reach of the tide. It was damp and wet but crumbly. It was not a marinade but a rub. Secondly, I loved the result but I felt like it needed more. It was salty and sweet, but it needed a kick and I say this as someone who finds peppered salami slices a bit too nippy. I was actually reaching in my drawer for some cayenne when I decided to grab the five-spice powder instead. I made another batch adding the five spice and the results were amazing. It tasted like the distilled essence of Chinese barbecued spareribs, only more bacon-y and less greasy. It was amazing.
Don’t overlook applications for the plain sweet bacon, though. Warmed so that the sugar was moistened and tossed with salt-and-peppered popcorn and you have the movie watching snack of your dreams.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, loose
- 2 tbs maple syrup
- 1/2 pound of bacon, which is about 1/2 a package
- 2 tsp (or more) of five spice powder, or cayenne, or both
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place your rack in the center of the oven. Cover your baking pan with foil and lay bacon strips down about a half inch apart. I only have one baking pan at the moment so it took two batches to cook all of the bacon.
- Mix the sugar, spices and maple syrup in a bowl with a fork. I found that the mixture was much easier to work with if after mixing I let it sit for 20-30 minutes for the syrup to be absorbed. The best way to apply the rub was with my fingers. I rubbed the mixture on both sides of the bacon, being sure to coat evenly and not too thickly. If the rub settles to thickly in one area it will burn. I actually really like bits of burnt patches, but if it is too burnt the bacon will be really difficult to remove from the pan. Avoid using super thin slices of bacon, too, as these will also burn and stick. Uniformly thick slices are best.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until the sugar is caramelized and the bacon is crisp and cooked. Watch carefully at about the 18 minute mark because there seems to be a thin line between perfectly crisp and perfectly burnt. Let cool at least fifteen minutes before removing from the pan.
- Enjoy as is as a snack, a side dish, or a garnish.
- If you want to add it to your popcorn, then pop up a pan of plain salted popcorn and add broken bits of candied bacon while still warm. Add any extra melted sugary bacon grease from the pan and toss to coat. Add more salt to taste and grind in lots of fresh pepper for kick.