by Michael Vyskocil, photography by Nikola Tzenov
Bacon isn’t just for breakfast anymore.
On International Bacon Day, Sept. 4, you can try some of the bacon recipes on the following pages, including a bloody Mary with bacon, a creamy broccoli and corn chowder with bacon, and a classic BLT.
Did you know that bacon takes several forms? Slab bacon, cured and smoked pork belly meat, is often sold in precut strips. Pancetta is a cured, but not smoked, pork belly shaped into a log. Pancetta has a lighter flavor than slab bacon; it’s often cubed and incorporated into the base for pasta, rice dishes and soups. Guanciale is cured pork jowl that’s sometimes smoked. Flavorful and tender, guanciale is available at Italian specialty stores and online.
You’ll likely see the term “cured” when it comes to bacon. Curing refers to the process of preserving the bacon. Traditionally, bacon was cured by rubbing it with a mixture of salt, spices and sugar, and allowing it to rest for at least seven days. Some types of bacon are cured in a wet brine, a saltwater solution. Regardless of what type of bacon you are using, enjoy experimenting with these delicious recipes.
Broccoli and Bacon Chowder with Corn and Cheddar
Here’s a sublime summer chowder that takes advantage of late summer’s abundance of sweet corn. The bacon’s smoky flavor plays off the corn’s sweetness. Makes 4 servings.
4 slices bacon (about 4 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken broth
1 head broccoli (about 1 pound), cut into bite-size florets
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 ears)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese, for garnish
- In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot set over medium-low heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a baking sheet lined with a paper towel to drain. Raise heat to medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 8 to 9 minutes.
- Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Do not let the flour brown. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add broccoli, corn, thyme, milk and heavy cream. Cook until broccoli is tender but still crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve chowder immediately, topped with bacon and 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese.
Scallops with Bacon and Browned Butter
Be sure your skillet is very hot before searing the scallops, and wait until a crust forms on the surface of the scallops before turning them in the skillet. Browned butter, referred to as beurre noisette in France, and bacon add body to the dish. Makes 4 servings.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound large sea scallops (about 12), tough muscles removed, halved horizontally
1 bunch baby spinach (about 1 pound total), washed well and dried
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained of fat and crumbled into pieces
- In a large skillet, cook butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the color turns golden brown and most of the foam from the milk solids in the butter subsides in the pan, about 5 minutes. Immediately transfer butter to a small bowl. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cover butter to keep warm.
- Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Use another clean paper towel to pat the scallops dry. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. In two batches, cook scallops until browned and opaque in the center, turning once, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Divide spinach among serving plates; top with scallops. Spoon browned butter over scallops. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon over top and serve immediately.
Leek, Bacon and Red Pepper Risotto
Making risotto at home isn’t difficult. Continually stirring as the rice cooks releases its starches helps the dish become creamy. The bacon gives this risotto a smoky flavor boost. Makes 4 servings.
1 leek, white
and light-green parts only
6 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken broth, kept warm in a saucepan over medium-low heat
4 slices bacon (about 4 ounces), cut into strips crosswise
1 1/3 cups
3/4 cup dry
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Halve leek lengthwise; wash thoroughly. Pat dry and slice thinly. In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a simmer over medium heat; cover pan.
- In a Dutch oven or large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat. Stir until slightly brown but not crisp, about 4 minutes. Add leek; cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice is translucent around the edges, about 2 minutes.
- Add wine. Cook, stirring until wine is evaporated, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1 cup hot broth. Cook, stirring, until the rice absorbs almost all of the broth. Repeat the process, adding broth 1 cup at a time and stirring constantly until the rice is al dente and liquid is creamy, about 25 minutes. You may not need to add all the broth at this point. Stir in diced bell pepper after the last addition of the broth.
Bloody Mary with Bacon
Makes 6 servings.
6 slices bacon (about 5 ounces)
6 cups tomato juice
Juice of 1 1/2 large lemons
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Unflavored vodka, to taste
Celery sticks, for garnishing
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Set aside.
- Place tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, pepper, celery salt and Tabasco sauce in a large pitcher. Stir to combine.
Taste mixture and adjust seasoning, if needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Pour 3 parts bloody Mary mixture and 1 part vodka into a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Pour into ice-filled glasses. Add a piece of bacon and celery stalk to each glass as a garnish. Serve.
This all-American sandwich lends itself to several variations. Try a BBT (basil, bacon and tomato), a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) or a BLOAT (bacon, lettuce, onion, avocado and tomato). Just make it BLT — before lunchtime — so it’s ready for you to enjoy. Makes 2 sandwiches.
6 slices thickly sliced bacon
4 slices white sandwich bread, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small head Bibb lettuce
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch-thick
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay strips of bacon on a cooling rack placed over a parchment-lined baking sheet. Transfer bacon to oven; bake until crisp, about 15 to 16 minutes.
- Toast bread; spread one side of each slice with mayonnaise. Arrange lettuce on top of toast slices; top with tomato slices and bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Top with bread slices; cut sandwich on the diagonal. Serve immediately.