My older son Sam is thankfully home. What do you think he wanted to eat after nearly six months (college semester abroad) in India? Steak and brussels sprouts with BACON! I was happy to oblige. Very Christmas-y, Holiday-ish dish.
I used the Consumer Reports #1 rated bacon in making this dish (review below): Kirkland smoked bacon. Great stuff at a terrific price.
The recipe for this is simple. Steam the sprouts until bright green (~5 minutes). Crumble cooked bacon. Drain the sprouts and cut them in half. Heat some bacon fat in a pan, then throw in the sprouts and bacon. Add minced garlic during the last minute or two (stronger garlic flavor happens with the shortest cooking time, so make sure to add the minced garlic late in the cooking cycle), then salt and pepper to taste. A key to this is to heat the pan and keep it hot, so the sprouts get crispy. Easy, delicious.
BACON IN THE NEWS this week contains a few interesting stories.
Drone Wars: A fellow in San Francisco has taken the idea of a drone to new heights. He's developed a drone that contains mistletoe. Obviously, this is only useful if one knows what it is carrying - if I saw 'twigs' carried by a helicopter drone, the first thing I'd think is that it brushed against a tree and was flying around randomly. I wouldn't be compelled to grab the nearest female and plant a wet one on her. But that's just me. I do like a major competitor of this silly aircraft: THE BACON DRONE.
A gentleman in the United States has created, and test flown, this breakfast delivery mechanism. He claims that it will kick the mistletoe's butt and dominate the skies. Check out the story. At the end of the 'news story' on the NBC Technology News page (link above), they ask the reader to take a poll. I concur with its results.
Another couple has decided to get married at a Bacon Fest. This is becoming boring. Brought to you by Huff Po, always good for some bacon news.
Another recipe worth trying: Broccoli with bacon and chestnuts. A great addition to your Christmas/holiday feast, if you're cooking. Seattle Times article.
ON TO THE BACON. Today, I'm doing a cook-off "bacon-off" between the #1 and #2 bacons, as rated by Consumer Reports:
Here's the Kirkland Pork Smoked Bacon I used in the brussels sprouts recipe. Nice smokey aroma upon opening the package. Looks good cold in the pan, and you can see the progression from cold, to cooking, to completed, in the photo below. Due to my haste, I didn't measure the bacon fat, nor weigh the bacon pre- or post-cooking. Outstanding classic flavor, strong crispness, and some good succulent spots. The bacon cooked up flat, which is somewhat unusual; most of the time it's wavy - the prototypical slice of cooked bacon. The flatness seems kind of odd, and it finished this way before. I wonder what they do to their pigs to avoid the famous "bacon neck" syndrome? Some shrinkage during and after cooking, but not at all excessive, and it did seem to produce less bacon grease. No complaints on this one and highly recommended! Certainly the price is right. You can buy it in bulk and freeze it.
Next, I prepared the #1 most highly rated bacon in Consumer Reports: Oscar Mayer Thick Cut Smoked. It weighed in at 15.9 ounces; I was gypped 0.1 ounces of bacon. The aroma of the cool bacon was a faint, pleasant scent of applewood. This bacon cooked up very, very quickly - so quickly, in fact, that some of the pieces burned. This obviously will affect the crispness. It also had high splatter, which is mitigated by wearing The Pit Mitt - a great investment for any cook.
This bacon had a strong tendency to stick to the pan and it was difficult to scrape up and flip properly. But it looked and smelled terrific as it sizzled away. Look at the bacon waves in this shot:
I give it high ratings: a 4 in flavor, 4 in crispness and a 3.5 in succulence. Overall, it's a great bacon and a great buy. I rate it in ease of cooking as a 2 out of 5, however - check out how it crumbled. Highly Recommended!
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. Next week: A recap of the bacon I reviewed in 2013!