Bacon Cornbread Pancakes

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I’ve had a really random hankering for pancakes – something I never crave for – and then once I made my first ever batch with a really excellent recipe from Allrecipes, I’ve been making them in various incarnations since. Based on experience, we know that cornbread is often studded with bacon. We also know that bacon is often served alongside pancakes. Incorporating all three flavors can’t go wrong! And so I did.

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Pancakes are so gratifying because they’re so quick and easy to make. They’re also a socially acceptable way to eat dessert for breakfast, and I do not mind that at all. I edited the original recipe by replacing half of the all-purpose flour with corn flour, and using bacon fat instead of butter for the fat in the pancakes. These are definitely still sweet, with just a hint of smokiness and Southern flavor from the cornmeal. These are supremely good with maple syrup and with thick cut bacon.

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Bacon Cornbread Pancakes
Makes 7 pancakes
Adapted from Allrecipes

3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons bacon fat, melted
cooking spray

1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and bacon fat into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Chocolate Stout Beer Bread

Sundays as a full-time student and Sundays as an intern are worlds apart. During the school semester, Sundays is when I scramble to finish my homework that I’ve left neglected over the weekend. However, now Sundays are for me to contemplate what I’d like to bake and what creative concoctions I can conjure. (Guttural alliteration!) The idea for this was actually somewhat fortuitous. I was cycling to Chinatown for my weekly groceries on the cheap, and I thought about how I could incorporate the chocolate stout I randomly bought into a baked good. I thought back to the whiskey bread I had at Gwynnett Street, and I was like, hey, beer has yeast. Bread needs yeast to rise. I should make a beer bread!

Of course, beer bread isn’t an original idea. Google yielded hundreds of beer bread recipes, all in various incarnations: with ale, with cheese, with scallions, etc. Me being me, I decided to put chocolate and bacon in my beer bread. I know, I’m starting to get a little bit predictable on this front and I’m also five years behind the bacon trend, but you really can’t go wrong with bacon. I also converted the recipe into muffin form because it’s so much easier to freeze individual portions and reheat each one when the munchies strike. I loved how simple the recipe was: it really is a matter of just mixing everything into one bowl and then baking it. No complicated mixing techniques, no compulsory order of ingredients: just slosh everything into a bowl and go. While the concept behind beer bread is that the yeast in beer will help the bread rise, I think the rising action is more a consequence of the liberal amount of baking powder that went into it. This is definitely more a bread than a muffin, so don’t be disappointed if it isn’t as much of a dessert as you’d hope it might be. The texture of the bread is more like a healthy breakfast muffin. Feel free to spread butter or cream cheese onto this slightly stout-tasting bread.

Chocolate Stout Beer Bread
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

3 cups flour (sifted)
3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) cans chocolate stout
1/2 cup melted butter ( 1/4 cup will do just fine)
Chocolate chips or bacon bits, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Pour into 12 muffin tins.
Bake 15 minutes, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

Cocoa-Rubbed Pork Loin with Bacon Whiskey Gravy

Bacon. Whiskey. Chocolate. Based on my latest kitchen endeavors, I’ve found that these three ingredients are universally appealing to just about everyone, and especially when used together. I used to be a clear liquor sort of girl that scrunched her nose in the face of brown liquor, but then I started watching How I Met Your Mother and decided that Robin was the kind of girl I wanted to be and the rest is history. Simon suggested this dish to me, and I was like, fuck yeah! Let’s do this!

I trawled the Internet and found this Food Network recipe, but decided to use pork instead of beef. The pork ended up tender and juicy because it was baked instead of pan-fried like the steak would have been. We also substituted cognac for whiskey because that’s all there was available, and cognac, being a spirit distilled from wine, gave the gravy a more delicate flavor than whiskey would have. The gravy is really, really tasty, and the copious amounts of heavy cream and bacon makes it better. It’s not a terribly complicated recipe, and it’s certainly restaurant-worthy. Try it!

Cocoa-Rubbed Pork Loin with Bacon Whiskey Gravy
Adapted from Food Network
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients
For the pork:

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
2 1-pound boneless pork loin
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed

For the gravy:

4 strips bacon, diced
1 leek (white and light green parts only), finely chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whiskey (I used cognac)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves (I omitted this)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Make the pork loin: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the cocoa powder, both paprikas, brown sugar, cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt; rub on the pork loin and bring to room temperature, 30 minutes. Distribute butter on pork loin and bake in a pan for 30-40 minutes.

Make the gravy: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add the leek to the drippings and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the whiskey, then return to medium heat; if the alcohol ignites, let the flames die out. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is reduced by one-quarter, about 8 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy coats a spoon, about 7 minutes. Stir in the butter, reserved bacon and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

When pork loin is done, transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Season with salt. Slice and serve with the gravy.

Bacon Bourbon Cornbread


I have been baking, but the dearth in posts lately is because I haven’t baked anything worthy of a blog post. I was inspired to make some bacon cornbread recently, but it turned out too dry and bland for my liking. I was determined to make some kick-ass bacon cornbread, and I’m so glad this current version held up. I found a recipe on Allrecipes that has stood the test of user reviews, and decided to use it as my base for the cornbread.


This cornbread is moist and fluffy with a slight gritty texture from the cornmeal, and nuanced enough with flavors of applesmoked bacon and oaky bourbon to be eaten on its own. You’re also greeted with the occasional bit of crispy bacon as you chew each muffin down.

I made a few substitutions that I believe really elevated the original recipe. Firstly, I used bacon fat instead of vegetable oil, which adds an extra layer of smokiness to the cornbread. I’ve been saving all the bacon fat from my various bacon baking experiments, and it definitely came in handy. I also used water instead of milk because I didn’t have milk, but I am of the understanding that milk’s function in most cake recipes is just to add moisture so I felt comfortable subbing it out. I also made this in a muffin pan instead of a cake pan, which meant more crisp, browned edges. Greasing the muffin pan in bacon fat also added a savory crunch to the outside of it. The best alteration was probably the addition of whiskey. I had half a cup of bacon-infused bourbon (recipe) sitting around, and decided to throw it into the mix. I had thought the original batter looked a bit dry, and I’m glad the bourbon didn’t make the cornbread soggy.

Bacon Whiskey Cornbread
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Allrecipes

1 cup yellow cornmeal (finely ground)
1 cup milk or water (I used water)
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, lightly beat
1/2 cup of bacon-infused bourbon or just plain bourbon
1/3 cup bacon fat or vegetable oil (I highly recommend using bacon fat)
3 slices of bacon cooked till crispy, then cut into small pieces, slightly larger than 1/4 inch squares

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin tins with bacon fat.
2. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal and milk (or water) and let sit for 15 minutes. Combine with flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, bourbon and bacon fat. Stir in bacon bits.
3. Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then cool completely on cooling rack.

Bacon Bourbon Jam

I use bourbon like how a Chinese cook uses soy sauce – a dash of it never hurts. Indeed, bourbon is such a integral condiment in my dessert-baking repertoire that I’ve decided just to keep a handle of bourbon around. Why not, right? This bacon bourbon jam is another incarnation of my recent bacon obsession. I even went out to buy a baguette for the express purpose of taking a picture for this post.

And my, this spreadable bacon is quite heavenly. It’s a complex melding of flavors and textures – sweet and savory, sticky and crunchy, smokey and woody. I used apple-smoked bacon ends and pieces from Trader Joe’s – a much more cost-effective way since the bacon is going to be chopped up, anyway. It reminds a little bit like Bee Cheng Hiang’s bakkwa, a kind of Chinese pork jerky.

Bacon Bourbon Jam
Adapted from The Delicious Life
Makes a little over 1.5 cups

1 lb bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar and it was fine)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
½ cup brewed coffee
4 tablespoons bourbon

In a large pot, cook bacon until just starting to brown and crisp at edges. Remove cooked bacon to paper towel-lined plate to cool and drain off grease. Pat with additional paper towels. When cool, cut bacon into 1-inch pieces.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pot. Turn heat down to medium low. Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent. Add vinegar, brown sugar, bourbon, and coffee. Bring to a boil. Add cooked chopped bacon.

If You Are Cooking on Stovetop:

Turn down heat to the lowest setting and allow to simmer for about 1½ hours, stirring every few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and what is left is syrupy. Do not leave the pot unattended because 1) that’s just not safe no matter what and 2) there is a lot of sugar from the onions and well, the sugar, so it can burn easily.

If You Are Using a Crockpot/Slow Cooker:

Pour the contents of the pot into the crockpot. Cook on high for about 3 hours.

After Cooking:

Transfer the cooked bacon jam to a food processor. Pulse until you get the consistency of chunky jam. Alternatively, you can just chop it manually with a knife until it reaches your desired consistency.

Store covered in the refrigerator.

Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is arguably everything I like in a single, palm-sized package. Bourbon? Check. Chocolate? Check. Cured meat? Check. Ooey gooey cookie? Check. So much win, guys. I just had a couple of these little babies for brunch and the gourmand in me is happy. I’ve been inspired to make a bacon dessert for a little bit now, and finally I found it within myself to buy some bacon – and my creative juices were going into overdrive. I finally settled on a bacon dessert in cookie form, and I created this cookie.

This cookie uses a Cook’s Illustrated recipe as its base, and I tweaked it a little bit based on the various variations of bacon chocolate chip cookie recipes that I researched. I replaced some of the butter with rendered bacon fat (mmm bacon fat in cookies), reduced the vanilla essence, reduced the chocolate chips, added crispy bacon bits and added a couple tablespoons of bourbon. Texture-wise, I found it a little cloying right out of the oven – I think the presence of lard was particularly noticeable when the cookie was warm. However, the cookie was quite delectable after having set in the freezer overnight and returned to room temperature. If I were to do this again, however, I’d probably use a tablespoon less bacon fat, and maybe 3/4 cup of chocolate instead of 1 cup. It’s a really powerful punch of sugar and fat – even I think so –  and I think it needs to be toned down just a wee bit.

Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes 16 large cookies (about 3 inches in diameter)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup (227g) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 lb bacon, fried till crispy, cut to 1/4 by 1/4 inch pieces

Instructions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir rendered bacon fat into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and bacon bits, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into portions of 2 tablespoons. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.