We love bacon. We love cooking bacon. We love cooking with bacon -- there’s a difference between those last two. Cooking bacon on its own is, well, cooking strips of bacon. But when you cook with bacon, you’re using bacon as part of a recipe.
Colliding Bacon & Vegetables Into The Ultimate Culinary Mash-Up
There are many, many ways to cook with bacon, but we’re going to turn enemies into allies by taking delicious vegetables and mixing it up with awesome bacon. The result? Six ideas that combine these worlds into an explosion of flavor and texture.
As a Topping
Foodies have seen bacon go with pretty much everything over the last 15 years or so. However, one of the most traditional uses of bacon has been a kitchen trick for years before hipster chefs decided to play with bacon in their recipes. Yes, it's the good old-fashioned use of bacon as a crumble on top of salads. Or, in the corporate manufactured version, Bacon Bits. (But seriously, Bacon Bits aren’t anything compared to the real thing, though they are extremely convenient.)
As a topping, bacon works on many different levels. The instant crunch and crispy edges provide a unique texture to a salad. The bold savory flavors of bacon complement the often softer flavors of a salad, so that each bite hits different aspects of your taste palette. And because vegetables have a naturally lighter and cleaner feel, the bits of bacon (again, not Bacon Bits) balance that out.
Recipe recommendation: Crumbled bacon works well on just about any salad recipe but we’re particularly fond of this butter lettuce salad with hazelnuts and bacon -- the blend of different textures is a great blend of everything awesome.
As a Wrap
When most people talk about wraps, they’re thinking tortillas around sandwich fillings. But us? We’re talking bacon as a wrap. Take your favorite vegetable, then wrap it in bacon. Is your mind blown yet?
No seriously, try it. We dig carrots -- but now try wrapping it in bacon! Or asparagus, which is another popular favorite. So, how exactly do you do this? The simplest way to do it is to wrap raw bacon around the vegetable, then cook it, usually in the oven or grill. Of course, if you’re gonna go to all that trouble, you might as well take it one step further; by using herbs and spices in your prep, you can make a delicious dish out of it.
Recipe recommendation: If we have to single out one wrapped vegetable dish, we’ll go with this asparagus recipe. It goes beyond simply wrapping asparagus in bacon to add a range of flavors for an excellent side dish.
Thanks to the almighty power of the wok, stir fry is one of the easiest ways for even amateur cooks to make a delicious dish. So, how do you take this to an even higher level of tasty goodness? Repeat with me: Just. Add. Bacon.
Of course, cooking bacon comes with its own set of steps, and it’s not going to be easy to simply throw whole pieces of bacon in there, especially the thick-cut pieces.
Thus, your basic steps for making bacon-tastic stir fry are: 1) cut the bacon down to strips, probably about 1” in length 2) cook the bacon first, draining the fat and oil from the process (though you can keep some for stir-frying the veggies if you want the flavor) 3) stir fry it all together. There’s a little bit more prep work involved, but you’ll find cooking bacon at that size goes a lot faster than the traditional full strips. And the results? Well, it’s stir fry with bacon, so it should pretty much speak for itself.
Recipe recommendation: You can stir fry pretty much anything, but stir-fried broccoli is a longstanding favorite with Chinese dishes -- and this recipe adds in bacon seamlessly to the experience.
Bacon and beans is about as easy as it gets. Whether you’re making your baked beans from scratch or you use a can, bringing bacon into the mix. It’s easy too -- just grab a big pot, throw your baked beans in it and throw your bacon in it and it’s done. (The bacon should probably be chopped finely though). If you want to avoid any extra grease from the cooking process, you can always partially or fully cook your bacon before tossing it into the pot for beans.
Recipe recommendation: Let’s cook some baked beans from scratch. This recipe from Food Network is extremely easy to do and uses pinto beans for a delicious side dish with bacon being a team player alongside all the different flavors.
In a Dish
Okay, so we’ve covered crumbles, wraps, and stir fry. Is there anything left to do with bacon? Of course there is! In fact, the bacon possibilities are endless, and it’s because bacon works as such a brilliant taste and texture counterpoint to veggies.
Take Brussels sprouts as an example. If you haven’t had Brussels sprouts since you were a kid, you probably have a negative association with them. It’s true, our taste buds change as we age, so the strong bitter flavors of Brussels sprouts probably made things quite unpleasant when you were young. Now? Your taste buds have evolved (it’s the nicer way of saying “you got old”), and because of that, you can appreciate the subtlety of flavors more. Also, strong flavors probably aren’t as much of a punch in the face.
With that in mind, let’s get back to the example of Brussels sprouts -- the mix of crunch and bitter flavors work perfectly when served in a recipe with bacon thanks to the blend of savory, fat, and crisp. It’s all about offsets and balance, so when your veggie is in the direction of, well, what veggies tend to taste like, throw some bacon into the mix to round it out. The result is often delicious all around.
Recipe recommendation: There are a number of recipes for Brussels sprouts with bacon, but this one is our particular favorite thanks to its blend of flavors.
Sometimes, bacon works best when it’s just bacon. And while you could theoretically eat a meal that’s all bacon, well, that’s one of those things that works better in theory. (Trust us, we’ve tried it.) Balanced meals are a good thing, not just from a nutritional standpoint but also from sheer taste.
Breakfast, in particular, is what we most commonly associate with bacon. Bacon and eggs? Clearly a good idea. Bacon and potatoes? A classic. Whether you go with an artisanal vegetable omelet or keep it simple and clean with eggs and hash browns, a few excellently cooked strips of bacon always work great to complement any breakfast dish.
Recipe recommendation: While this recipe doesn’t have bacon in it, it’s a great blend of refreshing and tasty vegetables to go with a traditional omelette -- and it’s easy to make. Add a side of bacon to it and a mimosa, maybe a steaming cup of coffee too? That’s a perfect breakfast.
Add Artisanal Bacon to Your Recipe
We’ve included plenty of excellent bacon recipes above, but how do you make it even better? Try the best darn bacon on the planet (seriously, it is) with artisanal bacon from The Baconer. For foodies of all culinary experiences, this batch made bacon can add another dimension to any of these recipes -- and if you’re feeling constantly experimental with your cooking, try our Strip Club!