19
Jun
10

Baconalia Review: Maple-Basted Bacon with Freshly Cracked Black Pepper and Tyranena Beer

Maple-basted bacon with freshly cracked black pepper received the most votes for ‘favorite bacon’ at Baconalia!  My working hypothesis is because it was so dang tasty.  I paired it with Tyranena’s Benji’s Chipotle Smoked Imperial Porter, which only seemed like a good idea.  See, it’s an imperial porter, and I thought the bitter of the coffee would complement the sweet of the syrup.  Chocolate never hurts.  As a bonus, this beer advertised that it had some (chipotle) pepper in it, to give it a bit of a kick; that was the same reasoning behind my cracking black pepper over my bacon!  I felt a certain kinship with the brewers.  While I did not take an official beer vote, I am pretty sure that this would have come in dead last – behind Labatt, even.  See, I bought a four-pack of this, which yielded me sixty-four ounces of gross beer.  Since it’s a tasting, everyone gets a glass and then you sort of pour as you go/desire, also rinsing as you go/desire.  More bottles are opened as we go/desire.  As we went, nobody really desired this one; the total consumption averaged less than one ounce per person, meaning I was left with three bottles of this guck.  I tried it a second time, thinking maybe the situation and pairing was what made it bad.  It wasn’t; I poured it down the drain. 

NOTE TO MY FATHER: Please note that as I did not like the beer, I threw it away.  I only drink things I like. 

All right, so we’ve established that the bacon was amazing and the beer was awful.  Let’s delve a bit deeper into the why.  With regard to amount and frequency that I baste and crack, I follow my heart versus any specific standards.  This means I make it with love; there is nothing that tastes better than love.  I also am a bit of a syrup snob, so totally use the good stuff – pure maple syrup versus maple-flavored product.  The only good thing about maple-inspired sticky product is some of the commercials.  They are very heartwarming and I often feel like I can relate is they frequently take place in the tundra.  Anyway, because of my spot-on instincts, this sticky bacon was just the right combination of sweet and salty, with a hint of a kick from the pepper.  It didn’t hurt that it was shiny and pretty. 

I can’t provide an exact recipe for this, as I don’t have one.  That’s sort of the story of my baking and cooking life.  Oh, I heat up some source (except when I don’t) and then I put some stuff from a recipe in whatever amounts seem right (except for the stuff I omit or add all willy-nilly) and then I may or may not tend to it, as I go about whatever I am going about.  I might be slightly less haphazard than that, but I do like to set expectations low, as sometimes I am not.  (Bless the crock pot!  It caters to me.)  What I can do, is provide a starting point and suggestions.  Own the recipe; own it and make it your own.

Maple-Basted Bacon with Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

1.) Heat oven to 400F (or so…350F-425F is probably a good range)

2.) Lay strips of bacon in a single layer on a broiler pan and stick it in the oven

3.) Pour some REAL maple syrup (grade and color doesn’t matter, so long as it’s real) into a dish

4.) Here and there, take the pan out and brush each strip GENEROUSLY with syrup.  I used a silicone pastry brush.  It turns out I have fantastic foresight as the silicone was much easier to clean than a traditional brush – and syrup can be a real bear to clean.

5.) Each time you baste the bacon, also crack some black pepper over it.  Since you’re going to do this often, you don’t have to go crazy.  If you want to go crazy, you totally can, as you are OWNING this.

6.) Keep repeating steps five and six.  Accept that because you are cracking pepper and schmearing syrup, it is possibly going to get a bit untidy.  It’s okay.  The end product is so good that any guests will forget to judge you.

7.) When the bacon is nearly done, flip it.  It will be hot, as will the pan, so you ought not use your fingers.  I use a fork, but that’s a personal choice.  Tongs would probably work just as well.  If you are good at chopsticks, they would be an option as well.  (I am not very good at chopsticks, although I do love sushi.)

8.) Give the second side a couple of rounds of basting and cracking.  Mmm.

This is best served hot, but medium warm is probably okay.  Do not return any leftover basting syrup to the bottle as your basting brush was going between (initially) raw meat and the syrup.  That would just be gross and not classy at all.

To elaborate a bit on the Beer of Disappointment, the flavors were too much and too muddled. I like smoky flavors in my meat, but not in my beer.  (I thought the exact same thing about a “bacon beer” I tried a couple of months ago.  That one was at least Dribs-Drinkable, but I definitely declined the opportunity of a second round.)  Really, it seemed like a smoky porter in the middle of an identity crisis…which is not a very good place to be, for a person or a beverage.  If Tyranena asks me, I’d tell them there is maybe hope for it, but they would need to up the chipotle and down the smoke, in an effort to balance it. 

As this bacon was the winning offering of Baconalia! (yes, everything does need to be a contest) I repeated maple-basted bacon with freshly cracked black pepper at Baconalia II.  Learning from my mistakes, I paired it with a different beer.  THAT review will follow, but my dad told me to cut back on writing about beer and since tomorrow is Fathers’ Day, I’m totally going to do so.

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