In May, 2009, an alternative newspaper in Seattle breathlessly announced in its food section the end of “baconmania,” as in dunzo, jumped the shark, kaput:
…bacon is in its terminal stage, clinging to relevance, grasping at any opportunity to cash in on its dwindling cachet as its 15 minutes come to an end.
Fifteen years on, and Americans’ love of bacon is still going strong. On average, we consume 18 pounds of it per person per year. And we’re not going to give it up any time soon. We’re crazy about this salty, smoky, supremely satisfying meat. Relatively inexpensive, it can step into multiple roles for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack. Recently, we’ve been embracing foods wrapped with bacon. Several turn a weeknight dinner into something special, please the kids, or make great game day nibbles. We hope you enjoy our collection of recipes and suggestions, and are willing to share with us any ideas you have for bacon-wrapped foods.
Sweet onions, such as Vidalias take on the wow factor when brushed with maple syrup, seasoned with your favorite rub, enrobed in thin-cut bacon, and grilled indirectly. Alternatively, paint the onion rings with barbecue sauce or mustard before wrapping with bacon. Fantastic with burgers, barbecued chicken, or steak.
Stuffed with cheese and belted with bacon, these fly off the plate at parties. Vary the fillings, if desired, using goat cheese, shredded brisket, pulled pork, etc.
Stuff pitted prunes with batons of Gouda cheese, then wrap each with short pieces of bacon (cut strips crosswise into halves or thirds), securing with a knotted skewer or small bamboo skewer. (Have most of the skewer on one side, so it looks like a hammer handle.) Direct grill over medium-high heat until the bacon is crisp and the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning frequently with tongs. Slide a grill shield or rectangle of folded foil under the exposed part of the skewer to keep it from burning. Serve with a glass of slivovitz.
When fish is fresh you want to keep the seasonings simple with salt, freshly ground pepper, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. The albacore loins are wrapped in bacon before a quick sear on the plancha or griddle then directly grilled over a wood fire for a smoky flavor. Served with a Peppercorn Cream Sauce that is a riff on the classic French Béarnaise sauce.
Other foods that are candidates for a bacon wrap:
*Green bean or asparagus bundles
*Potato wedges or halved fingerling potatoes
*Hot dogs or bratwurst
*Country-style pork ribs
*Pineapple or peaches
*In our experience, thin-cut bacon works best. We even like to thin it a bit more by placing strips of bacon between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment; use a rolling pin to make them thinner. For smaller foods, you’ll want to cut each strip into halves or thirds. (For scallops, cut the bacon in half lengthwise.)
*Most bacon packages have a lift-up window on the back so you can check the meat to fat ratio before buying.
*Try to select foods that have similar cooking times to bacon. If cooking shrimp, for example, you may want to partially cook the bacon in the oven, on a griddle or plancha, or in a frying pan until it’s beginning to render its fat, but is still pliant. Otherwise, the shrimp will be overcooked.
*Try to position the ends of the bacon strips under the food for the best presentation.
*Always have a safe zone set up on your grill in case of flare-ups (bacon is excitable!).
*Fold an 18-inch piece of foil into thirds (like a business letter) and slip it under any toothpicks or wooden skewers.
Also, sign up for our Up in Smoke newsletter so you don’t miss any blogs and receive some special offers! PLUS get Raichlen’s Burgers! PDF for free!