Thanksgiving -- we all know what to expect with that. A turkey that's been baking for hours, stuffing that may or may not have come out of a box, mashed potatoes, some form of yams, and too much pie by the time you get through it all. Now there's something to be said about tradition; there's a reason why these dishes have been associated with the holiday for decades.
But there's nothing stopping you from creating amazing new Thanksgiving recipes. You know one simple way to bring a modern bit of awesome to Thanksgiving?
Well, you are reading a site called The Baconer.
Yes, bacon can make the old standards into the new and exciting versions of holiday goodness. Or you can skip the traditions and simply bring something new and filled with bacon-packed awesomeness. Let's take a look at what's on the menu.
Thanksgiving Appetizers With Bacon
When guests start arriving for Thanksgiving dinner, they're probably expecting the standard appetizers: chips and dip, breads, maybe some crackers or savory pastries. But not at your Turkey Day! Nope, you are ready to explode minds with these two appetizer ideas:
Devils On Horseback: That fancy name, which really makes us think about Westworld but this recipe is far less confusing, refers to wrapped dates with bacon. (Dates as in the fruit, not as in your date for the evening because that would be weird and highly unsanitary.) Stuff those Medjool dates with Stilton cheese before wrapping in bacon and you've got yourself a memorable recipe that will make everyone think you're a fancy badass chef, even though this is actually really simple. See the full recipe.
Jalapeño Bacon Poppers: Jalapeno poppers are pretty fantastic by themselves. Let’s break it down into the core ingredients. First you have jalapeños, which are one of the greatest natural wonders on the planet, perhaps even the galaxy. Then you have a variety of cheeses melted on them. Seemingly a perfect combination, correct? Ah, but there’s one simple trick to make it that much better: add bacon. In this case, we recommend our bacon lardons. Slice up some of those into smaller pieces, then lay them gently into the bed of cheese and you’ve got a mix of spicy and savory that will immediately defuse uncomfortable discussions between relatives at a family holiday gathering. See the full recipe.
Thanksgiving Side Dishes With Bacon
If you’re like most of us, turkey is all well and good (though honestly, turkey by itself isn’t that good, though it is a good canvas as the foundation of a meal) but the best part of Thanksgiving is the side dishes. And the cocktails, though we’ll get into that later. Side dishes make the meal. What parts of the meal always get requests for seconds? No one asks for extra rolls. Everyone asks for extra yams or stuffing. So let’s obliterate some Thanksgiving minds by delivering the most amazing side dishes ever created. The secret ingredient is, of course, bacon.
Brussels and Bacon: Brussel sprouts may be something that grossed you out as a kid -- and really, that’s pretty fair, as their naturally bitter taste was probably pretty strong when your young taste buds were still developing. However, Brussels sprouts can come alive (in a Peter Frampton kind of way) when cooked the right way -- and you add bacon into the mix. This Brussels and Bacon dish is pretty straightforward and easy to cook, but it’s delicious on a number of levels thanks to science. What’s the trick? First, roast them properly and then add some veggies that counterbalance the natural flavors of Brussels sprouts. For example, sautéed onions or caramelized shallots will bring some natural sweetness to each bite. Then stir in some bacon. You’ve got a few different ways you can go about this, from chopped up bits of bacon (not Bacon Bits, please never use Bacon Bits) to lardon pieces. In fact, our Burnt Ends with super-delicious barbecue sauce might create heavenly Brussels sprout dishes that even the pickiest of children will eat. See the full recipe.
Green Beans and Bacon: Prefer the snap-crunch of sautéed green beans instead of the chewy texture of Brussels sprouts? Well, you can essentially sprinkle the same bacon magic as the recipe above using green beans. Keep in mind that green beans have a milder flavor, so balancing the flavors in each bite should be adjusted. You can go with a simple southern-inspired green beans and bacon dish (see the full recipe) or you can use bacon crumble to top off the ol’ Campbell’s Soup green bean casserole (see the full recipe; yes, most of this comes out of a can but it’s still delicious -- and also, you can replace the green beans in the recipe with fresh ones or add in fresh mushrooms to make it more gourmet).
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bacon and Goat Cheese: Okay, that’s a bit of a mouthful -- and we man the recipe name, not the dish itself. But what you’ve got here is essentially the traditional favorite of twice-baked potatoes, except you’re using yams instead of carb-tastic potatoes. And you’re using goat cheese instead of more traditional cheeses. The consistent ingredient? Bacon, of course. Because bacon works with any potato situation, regular or sweet. In this case, you’ve still got the same process of twice-baking them, just with the ingredients above. See the full recipe.
Pancetta, Sourdough, and Apple Stuffing: Making your stuffing is a fairly straightforward process; it’s often more about the ingredients than the execution. In this case, we love this recipe from our Bay Area neighbors at Sunset Magazine that brings together sourdough chunks, fresh apples, and pancetta chunks. Now, if you want to give a spin from The Baconer, then try our lardons instead of pancetta (note the difference in fat content, as that will affect the other ingredients, so adjust accordingly). See the full recipe.
Bonus Recipe #1: Bacon Drinks
Save the Martinelli’s for the kiddos. If you need a little liquid assistance getting through the night with relatives, we’ve got just the tip for you -- and it’s even got bacon. The Bacon Bourbon Old Fashioned is a twist on the traditional Old Fashioned mix, but first you need a recipe for Bacon Bourbon. Fortunately, this recipe has both, and we promise it’ll make your night, even when your obnoxious uncle starts yelling halfway through dinner.
Bonus Recipe #2: Sous Vide Turkey
Turkey in itself has very little to do with bacon, but as it’s the main course of Thanksgiving, we thought we’d share a little tip from our culinary home base. We clearly love the Sous Vide method of cooking, and it does wonders for making a moist and delicious turkey. This recipe doesn’t include bacon at all, but it does go into the easy steps for using Sous Vide to cook a turkey. Give it a try, we think you’ll find it much better than the traditional oven-baked turkey.
Where Are You Getting That Bacon?
Well, you’ve got all these exciting ways to make Thanksgiving into Bacons-giving (or Thanks-bacon? Does that work better?), so where are you going to get all that bacon? Fear not, friends, we’ve got a catalog of artisanal bacon for you to pick from. From traditional maple flavors to the amazing jalapeño bacon, The Baconer’s products are pretty much the most amazing bacon you can find (with a huge tip of the hat to the places we source our humanely raised meat).