Category Archives: Bacon Brackets

Is Turkey Bacon Real Bacon?

Gentle Readers, this post is coming to you from the San Jose airport, and thus will be brief. Apparently, California is already experiencing a bacon shortage. This broad statement is derived from a small data set. Twice, yes twice, I went to breakfast establishments that didn’t carry “real” bacon. Shocking!

Smiling does not improve turkey bacon's taste. Just saying.

Smiling does not improve turkey bacon’s taste. Just saying.

Mind you, I was too busy stuffing my face full of coffeecake on both occasions to audibly complain. But it raised an important question. Is turkey bacon real bacon?

For our taste test purposes, we decided it was not worth the caloric spend. I found it to be more like facon than bacon. It was crisp and salty, but why not just eat a bit less bacon? I’ve never understood substituting as a reason to consume more of something less tasty.

Mmmm coffeecake from Hobee's.

Mmmm coffeecake from Hobee’s.

Not that I am biased. Perhaps we will do bacon brackets with alternative bacons this March. Stay tuned.

Real bacon spotted!

Real bacon spotted!

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The Tower of Bacon

Gentle Readers, sometimes, bacon is more than the flavoring, more than a garnish, more than a bit. Sometimes, bacon is the guest of honor. Recently, in my professional life, I had cause to order 100 pieces of bacon. Just bacon. It was for a Tweetup called #vBacon, and I was not kidding. To the extreme credit and creativity of the staff at Cable Car City Pub, they brought this out.

Behold the Tower of Bacon!

Behold the Tower of Bacon!

That’s right, it’s a tower of bacon. Essentially a deconstructed BLT, lettuce and tomato served as garnish. It was bacon shock and awe. There were pictures taken, poses with, bacon inception even.

Bacon Inception

Bacon Inception: Photo credit @revolize

I’m well-documented as being a bacon fan, and this bacon was tasty. Lesson here, sometimes, when you have an event, less is more. Beer and bacon, yes, that is enough. They tried to push me into fancier appetizers, but I kept saying, just bacon please. The result was 150 happy technologists.

Will don ears and bacon for charity! Annual #v0dgeball tournament for Wounded Warrior Project.

Will don ears and bacon for charity! Annual #v0dgeball tournament for Wounded Warrior Project.

Have you ever thrown a party around a single ingredient? Post a comment below, or Tweet at me with #vBacon in your Tweet!

Send your bacon photos, your kitchen questions, and your food confessions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Filed under Bacon Brackets, Kitchen Philosophy

Bacon on Bacon, or the Bacon What? Log Recipe

Gentle Readers, this post will be picture-heavy, because sometimes words just won’t do. Today’s recipe comes from the hands of a colleague and friend, a fellow bacon fan, whom we shall call BaconFreaky. When someone tells you, first you weave a bacon basket, you simply must stop what you’re doing and listen.

How to Weave a Bacon Basket. Wow. Just wow.

How to Weave a Bacon Basket. Wow. Just wow.

And because this is total dude food, I’m leaving this in dude speak, as was shared with me. Because this recipe is not meant for the faint of heart. Literally.

Bacon What? Log Glamour Shot: I'm heartstoppingly hungry.

Bacon What? Log Glamour Shot: I’m heartstoppingly hungry.

Bacon What? Log Recipe

 Stuff:

Bacon What? Log Shopping List

Bacon What? Log Shopping List

16 strips THICK bacon
cheese (TPC: I would recommend a sharp cheddar or a pepper jack)
sausage (hot) (TPC: I would use mild, but I’m not a dude)
chopped pickled jalepeños (TPC: you can use the whole or the pre-diced pickled ones, up to you)
pepperoni (TPC: why not at this point?)
BONUS: sausage links FTW! (TPC: Again, why hold back now?)
(TPC: Unlisted, but apparently a tanker of beer is needed as accompaniment)

 Do This:

On a sheet of aluminum foil: Make bacon weave. Spread sausage over 1/2 of the weave!

Layer sausage over 1/2 the weave, and add a generous layer of chopped pickled jalepenos.

Layer sausage over 1/2 the weave, and add a generous layer of chopped pickled jalepenos.

1/2″ thick layer pepperoni (ridiculous layers), layer jalapeños (lots make it GOOD!), layer cheese (little makes it BETTER!).

Layer the pepperoni and cheese: too much cheese leads to the dreaded ooze. Use wisely.

Layer the pepperoni and cheese: too much cheese leads to the dreaded ooze. Use wisely.

One LINE of sausage links across. Roll up in aluminum foil like a burrito.

Beautifully rolled Bacon What? Log is ready for its closeup.

Beautifully rolled Bacon What? Log is ready for its closeup.

Make it look nice.

Bake at 250 1 hour for each inch of Bacon Log. (TPC: Buy a meat thermometer to test this!)

Let sit for 1 hour after you take it out of the oven. Enjoy.

So, there you go folks. Are you ready for that much bacon? Post your comments below! I have an urge to have a slice of that for breakfast on a biscuit. Perhaps that’s just me.

Send your defibrillators, statins, and PX90 tapes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Friday, Ode to Flatbread Crackers.

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Burger Wars: Shake Shack NYC Review

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook does not imagine that she will emerge from this entry in the burger wars unscathed. For the past year or so, I’ve been sampling the wares of the various high-end fast burger joints. I’ve been to Five Guys, In-N-Out Burger, and now Shake Shack.

The Practical Cooks Junior at Work: Shake Shack Reviewing

The Practical Cooks Junior at Work: Shake Shack Reviewing

Thankfully I brought my favorite team of critics, The Practical Cooks Junior, to back me up. It was a very hot day in New York, and we’d been running hard. Shake Shack near the Museum of Natural History was crowded. All this background to say, we didn’t love it. Not one of us.

The SmokeShack and Fries: Shake Shack

The SmokeShack and Fries: Shake Shack

The fries were pretty good when they were hot. We got them plain, sans cheese sauce. I got the SmokeShack because, well, bacon. The Eldest got a plain burger, and the Youngest got a hot dog. We got a vanilla shake and a peanut butter one for good measure.

Everything was okay, but not great. We ended up having to eat outside, so heat was a factor, but it just wasn’t memorable. We even ended up tossing some of the peanut butter milkshake, which borders on sin for me, but it just wasn’t doing it for us. In-N-Out’s chocolate shake is better, in my opinion, and Five Guys fries are my fave of the three. As for burgers, I’m voting for In-N-Out Animal Style.

Fries, Chocolate Shake, and Cheeseburger from In-N-Out Burger

Fries, Chocolate Shake, and Cheeseburger from In-N-Out Burger

Native New Yorkers tell me that Shake Shack isn’t the great institution it once was, and it is certainly far better than the golden arches. However, I had a burger last week at G2B Pub, a local joint, and it’s hard to think about other burgers now. Since I have genetically crappy cholesterol (looking at you TPC’s Mom), I can’t eat endless burgers, and I want to love the ones I eat. Shake Shack is a pass for me.

Meet my new BFF: burger from G2B Pub with sweet potato fries

Meet my new BFF: burger from G2B Pub with sweet potato fries

Okay Gentle Readers, that’s my final round-up in the burger wars. Hit me with your best shot. What’s your favorite? Agree or disagree with my take on the big three? Post a comment below, or Tweet at me with #burgerwars as your tag.

Send your kudos, complaints, and general shenanigans to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Bacon Quest: Bacon Bacon Truck in San Francisco Reviewed! (with video)

Gentle Readers, it has been too long since The Practical Cook broke out the video review. Fear not, she is reunited with her camera and on the road. Better still, she is stalking that crowd favorite, bacon.

I learned about the famed Bacon Bacon SF food truck a few months ago, when I was, well, talking about bacon at a Tweetup. You would be shocked how often that happens to me. They have everything from your standard bacon grilled cheese to bacon popcorn and chocolate bacon.

The Menu at the Bacon Bacon SF Food Truck

The Menu at the Bacon Bacon SF Food Truck

Accompanied by fellow bacon fan, whom I shall call Semper Fried, we decided to try as much as we could across the menu, for science of course. In our meager defense, we walked to and from the truck, and that was some reasonable distance.

Pork Belly Taco and Pork Belly Fries: Delicious in a box

Pork Belly Taco and Pork Belly Fries: Delicious in a box

I had the Bahn Mi and Chocolate Bacon, he went for the Pork Belly taco and Pork Belly fries (they made me think of Southern BBQ, a win). The bacon was exceptional. I am in the process of determining where it came from. My sandwich was good, the pork meatballs were nice, but I’ve had better pork belly. The money is really on the bacon here, it is outstanding, thick without being jerkylike, not overly hammy or salty, very balanced with a pronounced bacon flavor.

Pork Meatball Bahn Mi with Bacon!

Pork Meatball Bahn Mi with Bacon!

Would I go back? Absolutely, if only to buy more chocolate bacon. Yeah, it’s good, don’t try to kid yourself about that. Go early, the line forms fast. I think I’m going to try the vegetarian option next time, with bacon.

Chocolate, Meet Bacon.

Chocolate, Meet Bacon. ❤

Will you go out of your way to eat bacon? Tell me your story or issue a bacon challenge in the comment box below!

The Bacon Bacon Food Truck in San Francisco! Hunt it down today!

The Bacon Bacon Food Truck in San Francisco! Hunt it down today!

Food truck recommendations, kudos, and culinary challenges can be sent to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, Roasted Spring Vegetables Recipe.

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The Best Bacon: Bacon Brackets Winner Declared, Stunning Upset (with video)

Gentle Readers, the smoky haze is clearing, the fat has been rendered, and a winner has been declared. The Practical Cook can now resume purchasing and consuming bacon in rational rather than rasher quantities. So who won?

Bacon Smackdown!

Bacon Smackdown!

Let’s roll the tapes:

That’s right, out of all the fancy pants brands we tried, the victor is Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon, sold at a reasonable price at your local grocery store. The results are so shocking, I plan on doing a blind taste with some local food talents, just to confirm or deny. If you’re interested in running your own test, or participating, let me know.

Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon: Winner of the Grocery Store Round!

Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon: Grand Champion, Best Bacon

You see, the favorite going in, by far, was Nueske’s. I thought it would win, easy. The fabulous Wonder Woman surprised me with a 3 pound sampler pack of the stuff, and having mowed through the two more unique varieties, I spared the standard hickory smoked for the Bacon Brackets. I couldn’t eat it.

Blind Tasting Bacon!

Blind Tasting Bacon!

That’s right, bacon I could not eat. It was so smoky, though I admittedly have a problem with high smoke, it was inedible to me. Improv Cook backed me up on this one, though she’s not as put off by smoke as me. I went and bought another sample, this time sliced to order. Better, but I loved the cherrywood smoked Nueske’s way more.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving. This is the Nueske's!

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.This is the Nueske's!

So the champion went down. I consolidated this final post, as the first place winner in the Mail-Order is hard enough to source, and not delicious enough to bother, in my opinion. So here’s the Final Four, ranked from last to first:

4. Applegate Sunday Bacon. This only won the Gourmet grocery store bracket by being the least unappealing. Not recommended if there are other options.

3. Niman’s Ranch. This was the barely named winner of the mail-order category. It was smoky, salty, and a bit chewy with some good fat, but neither Improv Cook nor I loved it enough to stake our bacon reps on it.

2. Bacon from Cliff’s Meat Market. Proving that butchers know what they’re talking about, the mysteriously labeled “Bacon” from Cliff’s in Carrboro, NC, was really good. I would eat this very versatile locally-obtained bacon any time.

1. Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon: Grand Champion. This bacon was flavorful, meaty, with some smoke, extremely versatile, and really just a pleasure to eat. And isn’t that what bacon is all about?

Thanks to everyone for joining us on this journey, and my comrade in tasting and the founder of this awesome quest, Improv Cook. Special thanks to Cliff’s Meat Market, Brinkley Farms, and John at Eco Farms for the great info and the bacon.

Keep your French Toast company with some bacon, and grits, and eggs, and . . .

Keep your French Toast company with some bacon, and grits, and eggs, and . . .

And another special thank you to Neal’s Deli, for hosting the Bacon Summit that led to the Bacon Brackets. I’m coming in soon for another one of those pastrami biscuits, or perhaps the egg and garlicky spinach. I need a little bacon break . . .

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

What a long salty trip it has been. So I challenge you to go try this bacon and post a comment! What do you think?

Send your fresh veggies, challenges, and actual cooking questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Filed under Bacon Brackets, Fried

Bacon Brackets: Round 3, Local Edition!

Gentle Readers, this was a very exciting round of bacon tasting for The Practical Cook and Improv Cook. First, we limited the selection to two kinds of bacon, which allows for more tasting of each kind. Win. Second, because this is a local round, it was fun to gather up the contestants, and to talk to real live people who love bacon about bacon.

Bacon Spinach Pita Pizza Before Baking

Bacon Spinach Pita Pizza Before Baking

So a huge special thanks to Cliff’s Meat Market and Brinkley Farms (home of my CSA) for the bacon. Thanks to John at Eco Farm for local bacon insights.

Bacon Spinach Pita Pizza After Baking

Bacon Spinach Pita Pizza After Baking

Enough delay of game, here are the results for the brackets for Local Bacon!
To be clear, we decided to include “locally sourced” for this, as we learned that there is one smokehouse that is licensed to handle/process/deliver bacon for reselling by farmers. This explains why the local bacon tastes very similar between local sources. As I’m inordinately fond of the Brinkley Farms pork chop, I can testify to the deliciousness of their pigs.

Beautiful Pork Chops

Beautiful Pork Chops from Brinkley Farms

Brinkley Farms Bacon: Good pig flavor, not as much hammy as it is like pork tenderloin. Not overly salty, thicker and chewier than some, good for cooking, delicious fat. Second Place in overtime. (This was almost too close to call.)

Brinkley Farms Smoked Slab Bacon

Brinkley Farms Smoked Slab Bacon

Bacon from Cliff’s Meat Market: This was their “house bacon,” which we believe was sourced outside of the area. It was a bit more thinly sliced. Very balanced, cooks fast, not too salty, no one note jumps out. Good bacon taste, great texture for BLTs. First Place.

Cliff's Meat Market House Bacon, wrapped in butcher paper, of course.

Cliff's Meat Market House Bacon, wrapped in butcher paper, of course.

This was an exciting round for us, because we were struck by how much more complex and delicious the local bacon scene has become. We know there are some folks making bacon for personal consumption, or in-restaurant use, but for the rest of this, it’s nice to have options. I was a big fan of the Brinkley bacon on a biscuit, hitting the sweet spot between a pork tenderloin and a country ham biscuit, without so much salt. If you’re a fan of slightly crunchy fat, this is a good one for you.

Bacon and a guilt grapefruit.

Bacon and a guiltfruit.

Coming up next week, it’s mail-order bacon time in the final round. Will your favorite make it to the Final Four? Tune in next Friday to see! In Bacon Madness, it’s anyone’s game.

Do you have a challenge for The Practical Cook? Email me your ideas at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Sunday, special birthday edition of Weekly Menus!

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