Happy Irish Bacon Day

irishbacon1.jpg

It’s really St. Patrick’s Day; I just made up Irish Bacon day. I was trying to come up with a good topic for today and then it hit me. Today would be a great day to talk about Irish bacon.

In Ireland and the UK they just call it bacon, but since Americans have their own bacon, in the States we call it Irish Bacon. Irish bacon is very similar to what we call Canadian bacon or back bacon. It is cut from the back meat of the pig and it’s cooked until done, not crispy. In contrast, American bacon comes from the pork belly and is usually cooked until crispy. So as you can see there are big differences between American and Irish bacon.

The differences between Canadian bacon and Irish bacon are small. They are so similar that some people substitute Canadian bacon for Irish bacon in recipes. The only major difference between the two is Irish Bacon has a layer of fat around the meat. Canadian bacon usually does not.

I am personally not a big fan of Irish or Canadian bacon. There are some instances where I enjoy it, but for breakfast or a burger give me American bacon and nothing else.

If you have any fun facts about Irish bacon feel free to share.

Bacon Makes Great Shrinky Dink

dink.jpg

Last night I went to the monthly craft night at the Creative Treehouse in Bellevue. I am not really a craft kind of guy, but it turned out to be a great time. I met a lot of new bacon lovers and learned a new skill called Shrinky Dink.

The craft of Shrinky Dink was invented in the 70’s and every major toy maker had kits you could buy. Now the kits are no longer on store shelves and you have to find the magic Shrinky Dink plastic in your trash. That’s right, if you find plastic with a #6 recyclable symbol on it you can Dink it. There was a post about it on Craftzine.com so you too can start Dinking your trash.

I have a lot of ideas for my new craft. I want to make some bacon key chains, earrings, and more. I just need to find some #6 plastic. If you tried this retro craft feel free to share what you did in the comments section.

Maple-Bacon and Pumpkin Cheesecake

Maple-Bacon Cheesecake

When I was at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival I met a Chef that appreciates bacon as much as I do. His name is Lance Avery; he is the Corporate Executive Chef for Sara Lee. Lance created a Maple-Bacon and Pumpkin Cheesecake that was out of this world. After taking only one bite I ran up to him and said, “You have to give me this recipe, the world must know how good this is”. He gladly said yes, so without anymore rambling here is the recipe.

Maple-Bacon & Pumpkin Cheesecake
with Templeton Rye Bacon Walnut Glaze

Crust
twenty-four 5 by 2½ -inch graham crackers
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)

In a food processor finely grind graham crackers (you will have about 3 1/2 cups). Cut the butter into 8 pieces. Using the food processor, add the butter and syrup into the ground grahams until fully distributed. Press the grahams evenly into bottom and up side of a 10-inch spring form pan. Pre bake the crust (for crispier crust) in a 325º oven for 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before filling.

Filling
four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
½ cup heavy cream
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 slices of Jimmy Dean Center Piece Bacon – Maple 31634, cooked again until super crispy, then let cool before crumbling into tiny pieces

With mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in the syrup, then add the eggs one a time. Finish the mix by adding the remaining ingredients (except bacon) and mix well. Sprinkle the pre-baked crust with half of the crumbled bacon. Pour the filling over the bacon. Sprinkle the remaining bacon on the top. Bake at 325º for 1 1/4 hours or until center appears nearly set when shaken. Cool for 1 hour at room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving, preferably overnight.

Templeton Rye Bacon Walnut Glaze
1 cup cream
¾ cup maple syrup
½ cup Templeton Rye Whiskey
4 slices of Jimmy Dean Center Piece Bacon – Maple 31634
½ cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
Boil the cream, syrup, and whiskey together for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bacon and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Pass the liquid through a strainer to remove the bacon. Place in a blender with the walnut and blend on high until thickened and smooth. Cover and chill until served. Stir before serving.

If you are wondering what Templeton Rye is, it’s the whiskey Al Capone used to drink during prohibition. You can only get it in Iowa and some parts of Illinois. If you are in an area and can’t get Templeton I am sure you can use something else.

If anyone makes this let me know what you think about it. I thought it was amazing and I am going to try to play baker and make this. I will let you know how it turns out.

England, Stand by Your Ham

standbacon.jpg

Typing “Bacon” in Google’s News search feature brings up all kinds of baconish news. Sometimes it’s about a person named Bacon and other times it’s about the tasty food. Today it digs up an article about pig farmers in England. They are under the threat of becoming extinct. With the rising cost of grain for the pigs it’s getting to expensive for the farmer to say in business.

The costs of pork products in England have gone up, but the farmers have yet to see any of that money. All they are asking for is their fair share so they can stay afloat. These farmers breed and care for their pigs in a free-roaming fashion, unlike a lot of US pig farms. The cost for raising pigs this way is higher but produces a better quality (in my opinion) bacon. If you check out the cause’s website pigsareworthit.com, you can learn about the situation and how they raise their pigs.

If you dig around on the website you will find an amusing song about pigs called “Stand by Your Ham”, it’s sung to the tune of “Stand by Your Man”. There is also a farm-aid style video for it too. So to all my England readers support your local pig farmers and they will keep you supplied with great tasting bacon.

The Ultimate Breadless BLT

baconcups.jpg

LzRocks, owner of my favorite Bellevue shop “Your Mom’s”, sent me an email about one of the most amazing uses for bacon. A cup or bowl made out of woven bacon strips. The best part is you can fill with leafy greens and tomatoes, creating the ultimate breadless BLT.

Here are some more ideas for what you could fill the bacon cup with.

Ice Cream – I know there’s already bacon ice cream, but think about how great it would be to eat it out of a bacon bowl.

Thick Dips – If you can keep the bacon from shrinking, it could probably hold something like humus or spinch dip.

Shrimp – I think this could be a match made in bacon heaven. Throw a handful of shrimp in a bacon cup and top it with cocktail sauce, yum!

Steak Salad – Would this create the ultimate breadless bacon cheese burger? Someone will have to make it and see.

Eggs and Hash-Browns – Wow this sounds like a great breakfast for the bacon lover that’s on the go. Just grab a bacon breakfast cup and head out to work.

If you think of anymore fun things to fill the bacon cup with please share them via comments!

The Spicy Baconator is Extreme

spicybaconator.jpg

The PR guy for Wendy’s emailed me a few days ago about their new burger, the Spicy Baconator. He also told me that he was sorry I wasn’t a bigger fan of the Original. He thinks that this one may tickle my fancy more. I will not have time to try one this week, but once I do I will let you know about it.

If you’re wondering what this new extreme bacon burger is all about here is the run down. Just like the first Baconator this one has six strips of (hopefully crispy) bacon on top of two hamburgers. What make it spicy is the addition of two slices of Pepper Jack cheese, chipotle ranch sauce, and jalapenos. Wow that’s a lot of hot.

It is available now through mid-April. If you have tried one of these spicy monsters let me know what you think about it. Since the fine people at Wendy’s read this blog, I am sure they will hear your screams of joy (or pain).