"...the bacon overload could go the way of pirates, ninjas, robots, monkeys and zombies" - Peter Ryan
I expect that along with millions of ex-vegetarians, I came to be undone by the unbearably insidious temptation that is bacon. As I recall, I ended four years of no-meatedness at the Nottingham Trent University one morning as the staff were serving bacon butties in the refectory. Something savoury wafted across, and like the character following a wavy cartoon scent line across a screen, I found myself at the counter, drawn to one of the most seductive foods smells I know.
When I moved in with Christine, she was practically a veggie. I say practically, as she was an ovo-lacto-pisco-chicken variety of vegetarian. All that changed, and again, all it took was one bacon sandwich. Now it's as much part of the fridge as the shelves.
Bacon is a wonderful device, in a creative kitchen, not only as a component of the great English breakfast, but used to bard various roast beasts, and lately even I have been drawn to a long tradition of that style of American cooking that begins recipes with "fry an onion in bacon grease". My mother would put bacon bits into her Spaghetti Bolognese, and it's added to many soups and casseroles as a source of both grease and flavour.
So renowned a bacon fiend am I that this Christmas two of my new American family decided to collaborate to give me a new and delightful treat, one that even my bacon fascination had not been able to imagine. Yes, Bacon Candy. Actual bacon treated with sugary goodness and cooked to savoury-sweet perfection.
I cannot describe my delight as I opened this most fragrant of packages, but I am assured that my eyes were manga-round with surprise. Curly, glistening bacon racked on wooden skewers, and all for me! Words do not often fail me, but they do now. With the bacon-lover's Pavlovian response, I bit into it. Chewy, as one might expect, with the sweet caramel coating giving way to the salt and umami at the kernel. Forget your chocolate-covered peanuts, your Skittles and Smarties, your M&Ms, this is the real sweet delight.
The downside (there is always a cloud to the silver lining) is the health, um, benefits. What with salt, fat, sugar and possibly nitrites or whatever, it's not going to be one of the major components of a healthy diet but I don't care, by Gum. It's tasty and a likely, if rare, treat that will oft be had in the wertperch/grundoon household.
Christine's cousin Nono found the recipe online, so for anyone interested, I give it again here, with due credit to nourishnetwork.com. The conversions to metric and Imperial measures are mine, and are approximate.
4 cups granulated sugar (1 kg, 2.2 pounds)
1 cup brown sugar (250g, ½ pound)
4 cups water (1 litre, 1½ pints)
12oz centre cut bacon (350 grams)
½ teaspoon dry mustard (2½ ml)
½ teaspoon black pepper (2½ ml)
1 oven, preheated to 375°F (190 °C)
Use middle or back bacon rather than belly (streaky) as this recipe relies on the meat rather than the fat. Put the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon appears cooked around the edges (about five minutes should do). Remove the bacon and drain until it's cooled a little.
Now thread each strip of bacon onto a wooden skewer. Combine the brown sugar, mustard, and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge bacon in brown sugar mixture, shaking off excess. Now put the bacon on the rack of a lightly greased broiler pan (grill pan) and bake until crisp (15 minutes or so) turning it over about halfway through. Allow to cool if you can bear to.
It's hard to say what could improve on this, although I might stray a little into the arena of added spiciness by adding a little jalapeño by way of experiment. Chili peppers can work in hot chocolate quite nicely, so why not? Speaking of chocolate, I did spot a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that included crumbled candied bacon, but I'm really not sure about that one. Two such addictive substances would be the culinary equivalent of a speedball, to be handled with very great care indeed.
A wonderful xkcd cartoon about bacon