Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
Now it may seem a little strange to be sharing a recipe for bacon today, but hear me out. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and I can attest that there is definitely a fair amount of truth to that. So that's why if you're looking for a way to show that special guy in your life that you care, you need to make this recipe.
Because let's face it, most guys probably couldn't care less about cards/flowers/candy that go along with today. But a plate full of caramelized bacon? I can pretty much guarantee that it's something they can get on board with.
The recipe comes from Ina Garten's new cookbook, Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof, so you know it's going to be good because the woman is a genius. (I always joke with Cam that when I get old I'm going to be just like Ina Garten, just cook decadent dishes all the time, wear big button down shirts, and drink cocktails in the afternoon...and by joke I mean I'm dead serious...heh) All the recipes in the cook book look amazing but this one really stuck out to me because I mean, it's caramelized bacon...that's just the kind of absurdly decadent appetizer that no one should ever have any reason to make.
So of course it's the first thing I decided to try out. Obviously.
As with any of Ina's recipes, the key is to use high-quality ingredients. You definitely don't want to use thin crappy packaged for this recipe as it will fall apart. You need to get a high-quality thick cut bacon, preferably from a good butcher shop (which, thankfully is something we actually have here in Lake Tahoe!) Trader Joe's also sells a thick cut applewood-smoked bacon that would be perfect for this as well.
Oh Ina, you kill me.
This recipe has the perfect combination of flavors--the smokiness from the bacon, the spiciness from the pepper, the sweetness from the maple syrup/brown sugar, the crunchiness from the pecans, and the saltiness from...the salt. Ha.
Seriously though, this stuff tastes amazing. I made it for the Super Bowl and it was a big hit! Plus it's fairly simple to make so if you're looking for a last minute idea on how to make Valentine's Day extra special, you still have plenty of time to whip up a batch today.
You'll definitely be girlfriend/wife of the year if you make this dish, promise.
And hey, if your single you should still totally make it. It's the sort of recipe that says, "Who cares if you're alone, you've got caramelized bacon!" Because girls like bacon too. And I probably had at least seven pieces of this during the SuperBowl. It's that good.
Recipe Source: Ina Garten's new cookbook, Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup chopped or whole pecans
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 pound thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning) and place a wire baking rack on top. (And whatever you do, do not ignore Ina's advice about covering the baking sheet in foil--this stuff drips a ton while it's baking and would have been a nightmare to clean up!)
Combine the brown sugar and pecans in a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and pulse to combine. Ad the maple syrup and pulse again to moisten the crumbs. (The consistency at this point will be a fairly thick paste)
Cut each slice in half crosswise and line up the pieces on the baking rack without touching. With a small spoon, evenly spread the pecan mixture on top of each piece of bacon, using all of the mixture. (So it will be spread on very thick!) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is very browned but not burnt. If it's underbaked, the bacon won't crisp as it cools.
While it's hot, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature.
It's totally one of those recipes that's not pretty on the plate at all, but it tastes a bazillion times better than it looks! You'll see.
As for how Cam and I are celebrating this year, tonight is going to be pretty low-key. We're having a quiet dinner at home...because we have some packing for VEGAS to do! We're leaving for a long weekend in Las Vegas tomorrow, and I'm so excited because neither one of this has been there before. We're planning going out for a nice dinner to belatedly celebrate Valentine's while we're there and I can't wait!
Whatever you're up to tonight, I hope you have a day filled wtih lots of love and chocolate (and bacon, if you decide to make this recipe which you totally should). Happy Valentine's Day friends! Xoxo