Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ingredient: BACON

Sometimes when things are too popular I retaliate by refusing to engage with the trend. Examples? For the longest time as a child I obstinately refused to pick up the Lord of the Rings books, despite the fact that they were/are totally up my alley. (Thank God I had no such quibbles with Harry Potter. Though it’s probably because I got a tip-off from a Librarian friend and happened to read the first one when it was still pretty unknown.) I never got a beeper, I still don’t have an iPhone, and I just bought my first pair of skinny jeans (to wear clandestinely under boots.) I’m not saying I never fall prey to trends (er, Uggs are just comfortable, I swear!) which means it’s even more unexplainable why I get irrationally angry at certain fads in particular.

Like bacon. When Bacon Mania hit the U.S. I wasn’t really primed to enjoy it, being as I was, yes, a vegetarian. But while I changed my eating habits, the people of the United States did not. They loved their bacon more and more, putting it in everything from ice cream to cocktails. Now that I can partake of the pig, I decided to look into this super star of all ingredients.

First off, bacon is a cured meat, usually from pork. Grocery stores will tell you that there is such a thing as turkey bacon or even lamb bacon, but I beg to differ. Bacon means pig, just like cheese can’t mean tofu. Let’s proceed.

Bacon can be made from various cuts of pig though most countries cure their bacon from the side or back meat where the meat is particularly meaty. For example, in Italy un-smoked pieces of pig back are cubed and called pancetta. Yet--surprising no one-- the U.S. decided to shun all culinary trends and use the fattiest part of the pig instead, namely the stomach. Another thing that sets American bacon apart is that it is typically smoked, and other flavorings such as maple syrup aren’t uncommon. To be clear, I’m not dismissing American bacon. The fact that you can render a shocking amount of fat from a few strips of bacon comes in mighty handy when cooking. Plus when bacon crisps up it tastes savory and salty and not necessarily fatty at all.

I’m also not dismissing bacon because I’d become a breakfast pariah. You can’t order toast in this town without bacon ending up somewhere on your plate. Even my favorite, my old stand-by, oatmeal, has been affected. And fleeing abroad would do me no better: the Brits include bacon as part of their traditional breakfast, and though Canadian bacon looks like what we’d simply call ham, it’s all over their pancakes. Even in Japan this summer I saw those tell-tale hammy strips. The English transliteration read “bēkon.” It was kind of awesome.

Do I think that this country has become a wee bit baconed out? Yes. Still that didn’t stop me from making these cookies. Sometimes a girl just wants to fit in.

Dark Chocolate Bacon Pecan Cookies

Last weekend I was invited over to reap the spoils of a few friends most recent cooking exploits. They were making a porchetta, spaghetti with broccoli rabe pesto, and turnips. It was a wonderful menu and if I could add anything it would be dessert. The problem was that a stint on Jury Duty had totally messed with my work schedule and I was still trying to catch up. Plus there was some business to attend to with my student loans and a really good soccer game was on. I was stuck in this place where I wanted to bring something exciting (you don’t bring vanilla cake to end a meal of porchetta) but I didn’t have time to find a recipe or construct anything elaborate. And then it struck me. All that pork talk must have gotten into my brain because I decided that I wanted to make a bacon dessert. Then I decided I wanted to make chocolate chip bacon pecan cookies.

I know.

I know! It’s the very type of recipe I have resisted for so long! It’s the very type of recipe that I have mercilessly mocked and constantly chagrined as being ridiculous, disgusting, or passé! Having almost ridden out this bacon fad with nary a bizarre bacon experiment under my belt (I did play witness to the creation of a Bacon Explosion but I didn’t even try a bite) why did I decide, out of the blue, to make bacon cookies of all things? God only knows. Sometimes I don’t understand myself.

Well. I was both happy and disappointed to find that the bacon cookies were a huge, huge hit. (Ah! Bacon you win again!) I'll admit that it's pretty amazing how the rich dark chocolate plays against the fatty, salty bacon, and the pecans add a nutty crunch. Though, personally, I’d like to think I still won’t be a mindless bacon follower, ordering any pork product on the menu just because foodies tell me to.

Now excuse me while I go drink my coconut water and eat some nostalgic comfort food. And where did I put my jeggings?

Makes about 18 cookies

8 strips center cut bacon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup best dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans
coarse sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie trays with parchment paper.

In a skillet over medium high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and let cool. Dice into ¼ inch pieces, discarding any flabby, not crisp pieces.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and kosher salt.

In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture in two additions, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition. Stir in chocolate, bacon, and pecans.

Drop 1 ½ inch balls of dough onto prepared cookie sheets. Let dough rest in fridge for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with sea salt. Bake cookies for 12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.


  1. I can testify: these cookies were amazing.

  2. I am really excited to try these out this weekend... most food blogs loose my creative attention quite quickly, Carrie, you're always keeping it fresh and inspiring. thanks!