It’s true: Life is better with bacon

in Nonfiction by

For the Fourth of July, we here at Casa de Grill Daddy did something special. Thanks to the cookbook featured in our Independence Day column (The Nolan Ryan Beef and Barbecue Cookbook), we grilled hot dogs wrapped in bacon slices. We also prepared hamburgers infused with bacon bits, cheddar cheese, and Montreal seasoning. The result was a delicious display of skyrocketing flavor that was a huge hit with our July 4th party guests.

The unqualified success of those two dishes led us to wonder: what else can bacon, that most sinfully delicious of culinary treats, do for us and our fellow grilling devotees? We found the answer in Bacon 24/7 by Theresa Gilliam, a comprehensive volume dedicated to all things bacon-y. While it doesn’t focus on grilling per se, the book is replete with sumptuous recipes for meals throughout the day, several of which can be easily adapted to the outdoor grill.

“The glory of bacon is how it stimulates all the senses,” Gilliam writes in the book’s foreword. “Salt and fat mingle with sweetness, smoke, and crunch. It’s a primal ingredient, a staple from our remembered palate. It recalls days of feasting and celebrations after months of toil. It deserves so much more than to stand guard over a plate of scrambled eggs.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

In Bacon 24/7, you’ll find a cornucopia of uses for bacon in a variety that you could never imagine. Want to try something different for breakfast? How about Gingerbread Bacon Waffles or Bacon Ricotta Corn Cakes? Try a Power Lunch Spinach Salad or Bacon Butternut Squash Soup for lunch, or Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Honey or a Korean-Style Hangover Stew for dinner. After dark, you can enjoy a platter of Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Dates, Cardamom Cupcakes with Maple, Bacon and Cream Cheese Frosting; and Bacon, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies. The mouth waters at the thought.

There are also recipes that can easily satisfy the drive to cook over an open flame. We suggest the Bacon-wrapped Beef Tenderloins with Pomegranate Glaze (see recipe below). Other good candidates are the Teriyaki Salmon Skewers with Bacon and Pineapple and the Wrapped-Up, Glazed-Up Pork Tenderloin.

The key here, as it often can be with grilling, is to know your grill, know your skills, and be creative. Also, when cooking bacon over the grill, keep a close eye on what you’re cooking, as bacon fat will often cause the flames to jump and potentially burn your meal (crispiness and a good “bark” on your meat is fine, but no one wants to eat cinders). Depending on how hot your grill’s “hot spots” run, you also might want to turn the heat down just a tad lower than what you would normally use, and extend the cooking time a little. (When grilling, there’s nothing wrong with “low and slow.”)

In all, Bacon 24/7 is an inventive, delightful celebration of the indulgence that’s often referred to as “nature’s candy”—the delicacy that led the immortal Homer J. Simpson to roll his eyes back, drool, and groan unequivocally: “Mmm…bacon.” Who are we to argue with such a perfectly expressed sentiment?

Bacon-Wrapped Beef Tenderloins with Pomegranate Glaze

As with bacon, if you are going to indulge in something, it only makes sense to buy the very best. Go to your local butcher and buy steaks that will make you proud. You might want to keep a little extra sauce to keep your guests from licking their plates at such a nice dinner.

Bacon wrapped steak
Bacon-Wrapped Beef Tenderloins
with Pomegranate Glaze

Serves 4

  • 4 beef tenderloin steaks (4-6 ounces each)
  • Salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 slices thick-cut, peppered bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Pomegranate Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (or grill to medium/medium high)

Sprinkle each steak very generously with salt and pepper. Wrap each steak with one slice of bacon, securing the ends with a toothpick.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over high heat. Sear the steaks to a nice brown, about two minutes on each side. Using a pair of tongs, carefully roll the steaks on their sides to quickly sear the bacon all the way around. Transfer the skillet to the oven (or the steaks to the grill) and cook, flipping the steaks once halfway through cooking, until the steaks are done to your liking and the bacon is just cooked through, 5-7 minutes for medium-rare.

Remove and discard toothpicks.

Serve the steaks hot, drizzled with Pomegranate Glaze

POMEGRANATE GLAZE

  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • Salt

Combine the pomegranate juice, vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat then simmer over medium heat until reduced by half, about 15-18 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

*Over-the-top bacon lover’s tip: Brush steaks with a little melted clarified bacon fat before seasoning.

WINE CHOICES by the Big Chill

There are a number of wonderful wines that will go very well with our featured recipe. You can start with a Cru of Beaujolais, such as a Brouilly, Moulin-a-Vent, or Fleurie. Select a younger vintage: 2011, 2012 or 2013. Serve slightly chilled. You may also try a Côtes du Rhône 2010, 2011, or 2012, also slightly chilled.

If you prefer a Cabernet Sauvignon, try a Napa Valley vintage 2010 or 2012, or a Knight’s Valley 2010 or 2012.

Another great selection would be a Shiraz from Australia. There are many good large producers, such as Penfolds, Lindemans, and Greg Norman. A reputable wine store can help you make the choice that’s right for you.

Here’s to a wonderful meal!

 

 

Grill Daddy is a pro with tongs who has been cooking up summertime feasts for family and friends for more than 20 years. The Big Chill is our libations expert. An international wine importer and expert by day, by night he helps friends, such as you, get their chill on—big time.

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