Who has a Christmas party this weekend? Everyone, right? While I know a lot of parties out there are catered events, we roll with the potluck crowd. And we love it!! We had two corporate Christmas parties when we were corporate people. While I very much miss having an occasion to dress up all fancy, I much prefer our “Old Fashioned Christmas Party” with the college students we work with and our progressive dinner party with our neighbors. And the corporate parties are missing this Caramelized Bacon!
When’s the last time your Christmas party required you to make a nativity scene out of play doh? Or compete to win a Christmas quiz that awarded no prize? Or had a read aloud Christmas story time from one of our favorite Children’s Bibles? That’s how we roll with our parties these days. 🙂
There is so much fun in the variety of holiday parties and so much fun in the variety of food! While my menu changes from year to year, there is one item that is consistent. Caramelized Bacon courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa. This bacon makes an appearance twice a year: at our Christmas party and at our staff team’s Oscar party. I know for a fact people have said “yes” to coming to our party just for the bacon. And I remember overhearing one of our former staff teammates saying she wanted to work with us just to be invited to our Oscar party… for the bacon, I’m sure.
Whether you have hopped onto the bacon bandwagon or have decided to take care of your arteries and resist, this bacon is worth splurging on for a special occasion. It’s sweet. It’s salty. It’s spicy. It’s sticky. It’s chewy. It’s crunchy. It’s just about everything wonderful in two or three bites.
So how about you do everyone a favor and try this recipe for your party this weekend. Maybe triple the recipe (I always do). If you’re a words of affirmation-type person, you are guaranteed to feel pretty special. If there were a party food mic, it would drop when this bacon shows up.
My only notes to share… You absolutely must use a rimmed baking sheet. I can’t imagine cleaning my oven after making this on a flat one. Likewise, do not forsake lining the baking sheet with foil. You have a party to go to… you do not want to clean this off your baking sheet. But you will have to clean a bit of it off your cooling rack… soak it while you’re partying and deal with it the next day.
Wegmans has my preferred applewood-smoked bacon (organic). Some applewood-smoked bacon is really thick. Ina Garten actually says to get the thick-sliced bacon “such as Nodine’s” (I don’t know Nodine or where to find her bacon…). I personally don’t like the super thick slices. It holds up well, but I want a really good crunch on the edges. Since I couldn’t make it out to Wegmans this week, I defaulted to our neighborhood Whole Foods. I got regular bacon (organic/no nitrates/nitrites) since their applewood-smoked was really fat. Just a personal preference for me!
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup chopped or whole pecans
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/2 pound applewood-smoked bacon
Preheat oven to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning) and place a wire baking rack on top.
Combine the brown sugar and pecans in a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and pulse to combine. Add the maple syrup and pulse again to moisten the crumbs.
Cut each bacon slice in half crosswise and line up the pieces on the baking rack without touching (if possible… mine sometimes touch if I need to squeeze a bunch on). With a small spoon, evenly spread the pecan mixture on top of each piece of bacon, using all of the mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is very browned but not burnt. It it’s underbaked, the bacon won’t crisp as it cools.
While it’s hot, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels (important to do while it’s hot and moldable… I’ve gotten distracted and let it cool too long. It was a fight to get the bacon off the cooling rack).
Serve at room temperature (on your fanciest dish)!
*These can be made early in the day and stored at room temperature.
Source: Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten