There was a time when I ate bacon almost every day. Growing up we had bacon and eggs for breakfast most mornings. When we weren’t eating strips of bacon we were using the drippings to season beans or potatoes.
I can remember waking up early to the smell of breakfast as Aunt Hen fried thick slices of jowl bacon (she pronounced it so that I always heard it like it was someone's name, Joel Bacon) for my uncle's breakfast. She cooked a whole cast iron skillet full for my uncle to share with Cisco, his German Shepherd who stayed patiently by his side until he left for work long before the crack of dawn.
As the years passed wisdom finally overcame tradition. After learning about the risks associated with the nitrites in bacon, not to mention the high salt, saturated fat and calorie content that bacon brings to the table, I have cut most of the bacon from my weekday menus and save it for special occasions.
This recipe is a good one for such special occasions. It is attributed to Paula Dean but I stumbled over it while previewing The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook a year or so ago. It stood out as both special and uncomplicated.
As a Kentucky girl with a heart for traditional Kentucky flavors this recipe was one I had to try. It is simple to prepare, using only three ingredients most Kentucky cooks are likely to have on hand: bacon, brown sugar and bourbon. Another plus is that it uses a technique for cooking bacon that was new to me, but useful for those times when you need more bacon than one skillet will hold. It cooks the bacon in the oven while you prepare the rest of the meal and, if you line the baking pan with foil, even clean up is a snap.
Candied Bourbon Bacon Bites
from The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook
¾ pound bacon
2 Tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
½ cup packed light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on top of the foil. Arrange the strips of bacon close together in a single layer on top of the rack. Brush the bacon with the bourbon. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bacon.
Place the bacon in the oven. Bake until crisp and dark golden brown, approximately 20 - 25 minutes. (This time may vary depending on the thickness of the bacon. My bacon was thick and took longer.)
When crisp, remove from oven and transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to cool slightly. Break each strip into several pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature.