Published by TheFoodMonkey on 23 Dec 2009
In the past week, I have learned that mortal man, with his two hands, might reach into the void and draw forth that which is simultaneously gastronomically delightful and cosmically wrong, and by so doing, bring into this world something of sublime beauty, sin, and perfection–something sacrilicious.
In was in the throes of such darkling pursuits that I found myself one crisp December evening, after I had been invited to a Hebraic holiday gathering, marking the second night of Chanukkah. This aim of this party was to celebrate the noble latke–a divot from a thatched roof of potatoes, chipped into frying pan and left until crispy, typically served with apple sauce or sour cream.
In jest, I proposed to the hostess that I should prepare something highly inappropriate and porcine, and surprisingly she did not balk, but seemed rather intrigued at the prospect. So after inquiring if any more observant fellow members of the tribe in attendance might be offended by this off-color offering, whatever its incarnation, I began to ask myself exactly what bacon latkes might entail.
Clearly, making a simple potato lakte with bacon inside it would be but a refuge for the timid, and thus, I decided to use the bacon in place of the potato. To do so, I stacked several slices of thick-cut maple bacon on top of each other, and sliced them widthwise into many thin strips, reminiscent of the julienned potatoes used in the original. The choice of a thick cut, slightly lean bacon is paramount if the strips are to retain their structural integrity. Keeping the uncut bacon cold before cutting facilitates the process.
I cut about 6 strips of bacon in the fashion, and set them aside in the refrigerator.
In considering the flavors that this delightful abomination should take on, I hearkened back to a recipe for Pig Candy that I had spied online, which counterbalanced the salinity of the bacon with brown sugar and cayenne pepper. To the seasoning, I added cinnamon to lend an additional aromatic quality. I believe that cayenne pepper + brown sugar + cinnamon is one of the best triads of flavors in existence, and is one I often employ when making caramelized onions for omelets.
With the flavors nicely balanced with sweet, spicy, salty, and aromatic components, the texture needed to be improved so as to avoid the feeling of consuming a tennis ball derived from reconstituted beef jerky. To this end, I added slivers of blanched almonds to lend crunch. Also, they would caramelize nicely and turn a lovely brown when baked with the brown sugar.
As a binder, egg white and a little bit of flour were used, which I added to a large bowl with the brown sugar, almonds, and spices.
Before incorporating the bacon strips to the mix, I broiled them for about 5-10 minutes on a rack that allowed the fat to drain. This is a crucial step in the bacon latke making process, as too much fat emanating from the bacon during backing will dilute the sugar and binder to the point that nothing with adhere to each other, leaving a sad pile of bacon strips and broken dreams.
Using a spatula, I gently folded in the bacon, making sure not to break any of the strips, while completely coating the bacon and almonds in sugary spicy goodness. Then, taking a teaspoon, I placed small sliver-dollar-sized mounds of the mix on a cookie tray covered with a silicone baking mat. When making the mounds, let as much excess sugar/binder ooze come off as possible or the creation will suffer glacial calving, with bacon swept away atop saccharin floes into a vast a silicone sea.
After making a dozen or so equally spaced mounds, I placed the sheet into the oven for about 10 minutes, until all the sugar had melted and the almonds turned a beautiful golden brown. As this point, I removed the sheet from the oven, letting the weary chimeras cool to room temperature and form a protective carapace of sugar.
Using the back of a kitchen knife, I popped the latkes off of the pad and arranged them on a platter, and conveyed them directly to the party. At the gathering, which included such goodly items as sweet potato curry latkes with wasabi sour cream, I was glad to see that those observant of our ancient dietary customs found them amusing rather than offensive, and that those who were not found them delicious. I found that it takes at least two to wrap one’s head around the contrasting flavors and textures, and then about seven more to confirm the previous findings.
Thus, I share the prescription for fabrication of these beasties with you, in hopes of brightening your holiday season, whatever festivities you may celebrate:
The Food Monkey’s Bacon Latkes
(makes 12-15 bites)
- 6 strips thick cut maple bacon
- 3/4 cup blanched and slivered almonds
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut bacon into short strips widthwise, and broil in toaster oven for 5 minutes, let fat drain.
- In a large bowl, gently mix the brown sugar, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, flour, egg white, and bacon until everything is well combined.
- Using a teaspoon, make small mounds of the mixture cookie tray with a silicone pad or wax paper on top.
- Bake 15 minutes, remove and let cool.
It should be noted that this is not the first sacrilicious task that I have undertaken, as I host an annual Godzilla Burger Yom Kippur Break Fast at Eagles Deli. See you there next year!