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Try recipes for bacon jam, bacon mac and cheese, warm bacon and spinach salad
The title is rhetorical. Of course, bacon makes it better. There is an undeniable deliciousness of pork belly preserved with salt, smoke, or both.
It is so "crave-able" that its actually becomes part of popular culture. There are now so many chefs imprinted with pigs and bacon tattoos that one begins to wonder whether if our culinary obsession has gone a little too far. Sometimes perhaps it does. What once was the accompaniment to our morning eggs is now the star, side dish and seasoning to dishes from morning to night. As bacon’s popularity has sky-rocketed over the last decade, it has progressed from breakfast to super seasoner – who doesn’t love bacon added to veggies like potato (especially in poutine form) or Brussels sprouts?
It has even entered the sweet side of the equation, with bacon donuts a now ubiquitous coffee shop offering. But isn’t bacon as a dessert ingredient a little bit excessive? While the theory of bacon flavoured caramel and chocolate as a smoky, sweet juxtaposition of flavours is sound in principle, I have rarely felt like bacon has made a dessert better.
Now bacon as a side dish is another story. Have you ever had bacon jam? Let us just say it’s life-changing. It makes the perfect accompaniment to a cheese board, a topping for scallops or happily wedges between slices of bread as a sweet and smoky condiment for your next grilled cheese sandwich.
Makes one small jar
- 2 cups bacon, finely diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Directions: Place bacon in a pan and cook until browned and rendered. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until onions are soft and cooked. Pour off a little of the fat. Add the brown sugar and vinegar and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. Let cool.
Warm bacon and spinach salad
- 6 slices bacon, diced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup mushroom, sliced
- 1/2 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 1 large bag spinach
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup pecan pieces, toasted
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Directions: Place bacon in a large sauté pan. Set to medium heat. Cook until bacon is slightly crispy. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and transfer to paper towel. Reduce heat to medium-low and then add the onions. Sauté until onions are soft. Add the garam marsala and mushrooms and continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach and wine. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to lightly wilt the spinach. Finish with balsamic vinegar. Transfer to serving bowl and top with toasted pecans.
Bacon mac and cheese
- 5-6 slices bacon
- 1/4 butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 litre milk
- 1 tsp paprika
- 4 cups grated cheddar
- 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup Parmesan
- 1/4 melted butter
Directions: Cook bacon until crispy. Reserve and dice. Add butter to pan and melt over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir to form a bacon fat and butter roux. Add paprika and season with salt and pepper. Stir until bubbles to ensure flour is not raw. Add milk (warm is best) and stir over medium heat. When the sauce thickens, add cheddar and stir. When cheese is melted add macaroni and stir to combine. Place in a pie pan or baking dish. Top with diced bacon, then cheddar cheese. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and melted butter. Stir to mix. Cover macaroni mixture with breadcrumb mixture. Place in oven preheated to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes.
Mark DeWolf is a connoisseur of all things food and drink. He's a creative director with SaltWire and local fare is his specialty. You can subscribe to his Follow a Foodie newsletter here.