Several months ago, while a friend and I were at Urban Outfitters for their semi-annual College Night sale, I came upon a most peculiar object. It was a silk tie, done in an all-over abstract print of dark pink, russet, and pale yellow. We admired it as a kind of post-impressionist watercolor, not realizing that it was intended to look like something in particular — but when I took a few steps back, it came suddenly into focus.
“Oh my god,” I said. “It’s bacon.”
Startling, yes, but that tie was far from the first bacon-printed article of clothing I’ve seen. It was just another link in the chain of bacon-themed novelties. Bacon socks, bacon vodka, Bacon Ipsum — the list could go on forever, transcending genre and comprehension. It seems that this particular cut of meat has shifted from breakfast-table favorite to cultural icon, the Campbell’s Tomato Soup can of our generation.
So what is it that makes bacon so hip? I’ve dwelt on it, and honestly, the only conclusion I’ve come to is that it is goddamn delicious. This recipe is no exception. Bacon hardly needs embellishment, but it takes to experimentation well. I like this particular recipe for its neat integration and enhancement of the four dimensions of bacon flavor–sweet, salty, smoky and spicy.
The brown sugar mingles with the bacon fat as it cooks, creating a sticky caramelized crust that is delightful to lick off your fingers once the rest of it has been eaten. Because trust me–you will eat the entire pound. This stuff is irresistible. It’s great for parties, and if you line the baking sheet with tinfoil, you’ll hardly have anything to clean up afterwards.
SWEET AND SPICY BACON
½lb thick-cut baconabout ¼ cup brown sugarcayenne peppergarlic powder
Preheat oven to 400. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Cut bacon strips in half and arrange on rack so that they are spaced evenly, about half an inch apart. Coat with brown sugar on both sides, then sprinkle the strips with cayenne and garlic powder to taste.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, turn bacon over with a pair of tongs, and then bake for another 10-15, or until the sugar has completely melted and created a crackling caramelized crust. Remove from oven and see if you can wait long enough for them to cool that you don’t burn your mouth.
Original Author: Clare Dougan