Let me start by saying “I really, really love bacon!” I know it’s Spring, so you would expect me post about my love of fresh fruits and veggies, but like chocolate, bacon makes almost everything better. I just can’t say that about fruits and veggies even though they can be great. Don’t worry though, we will turn to posts about them soon, but first, BACON!
I have learned that bacon lovers usually fall into one of two camps: Camp 1—those that love it crispy and crunchy and Camp 2—those that love it softer and still chewy (some would say limp). I must say that I fall squarely in the second camp. I like to slowly chew a decadent slice of bacon, enjoying every bite along the way. To me the flavor is even better if it is not cooked to a crisp. However, I recognize that even some of the people I love (e.g., my mom) are in the other camp and think the crispier, the better. Oh well, great minds can differ. That said, this way of turning bacon into a candy-like (not really that sweet, but good sweet) mouth-watering experience may turn some crispy-camp bacon lovers into converts! Try one of the versions below, and then post a comment here or on facebook to let me know what you think.
The first step is to get some thick cut bacon slices and lay them on a baking sheet.
Alternatively, you can place the bacon slices on a rack sitting on the baking sheet. This allows more of the fat to drain away as the bacon cooks, but it also means the brown sugar will not carmelize as well. (On a side note, the bacon shown in this picture and the picture above is the same brand but from different packages. It is crazy how much bacon can differ. If you have a butcher counter where you can get thick sliced, uniformly cut bacon, go for that!)
I have made brown sugar bacon before. It is great when you have company because you can bake enough bacon in the oven for several people while you cook the rest of breakfast. But, you know I like to experiment, so I decided to experiment with adding more flavor and trying to balance out the sweetness of the brown sugar. To do that I picked two spices I really like: coarsely ground black pepper and smoked (not sweet) paprika. To test the new additions, I left two slices of bacon plain, then I sprinkled some coarsely ground black pepper on two slices.
Then I sprinkled smoked paprika on the last two slices. They already look good, right?!
Now for the really amazing part, the brown sugar! I sprinkled about a 1/2 tsp. (packed) of brown sugar on each slice of bacon. (In case you are wondering, the two plain strips are on the right, the two smoked paprika strips are in the middle, and the two strips with coarsely ground pepper are on the left.)
As you can see from the close up photo below, I did not fully coat the bacon with brown sugar. That would just be too much.
I also sprinkled brown sugar on the bacon on the cooking rack. Then I let both pans of bacon sit for a few minutes so the moisture from the bacon could start dissolving the suga.
Now it is time to bake! After preheating the oven to 400 degrees F, I placed the baking sheets in the oven. Depending on the thickness of the bacon and the actual temperature of your oven, it will take 15-25 minutes for the bacon to cook. I set a timer for 15 minutes and then for every 3 to 5 minutes after that. You don’t want to overcook it and burn the sugar. The bacon shown below is about halfway to perfection. As you can see the fat is slowing melting while the sugar on top is starting to carmelize. Yummy!
The bacon is ready when it looks like the photo below. For a reference, compare the photo above with the photo below. The fatty areas have almost disappeared in the photo below and you have beautiful, slightly browned areas where the brown sugar has carmelized even more.
Note that the bacon cooked on the rack will not show the same amount of camelization, but you are checking for whether most of the fat has melted away and some of the brown sugar has carmelized and turned a little brown. Just be careful not to let it burn.
Place the cooked bacon on several layers of paper towels—sugar side up! This will let the excess fat drain without removing the beautiful carmelized sugar and spices.
Now for the really fun part. Jeff and I got to do a bacon taste test! What could be better? I cut the bacon into smaller strips (about 2 inches long) and gave each of us a taste of the four versions (rack-cooked with brown sugar, brown sugar only, brown sugar with coarsely ground black pepper, and brown sugar with smoked paprika). They were all good, but the rack cooked bacon was the clear loser when compared to the other three. To get the real flavor and carmelization that the brown sugar adds, the bacon needs to cook in its fat rather than let the fat drip away as it cooks. I know that is not the healthier option, but after all this post is about bacon, so we might as well call it as we see it. Skip the rack.
Picking between the other three choices was a little harder, but overall the black pepper and smoked paprika bacon won in our opinion. The spices really did balance out the brown sugar’s sweetness a little without overpowering the bacon goodness, so mission accomplished! I may even try a couple of different spices next time. What do you think about chipotle or ancho chili powder?
Serve this brown sugar bacon with your favorite breakfast sides—the bacon will be the main dish in this breakfast, so be sure to make enough. 🙂
If you need a good biscuit recipe, click here.
© 2015 FoodieOasis