Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Quick Amazing Holiday Appetizer...AMAZING I SAY!

There will be a lot of entertaining over the next couple of weeks, and if you are looking for something a little different, taking minimal effort
and absolutely delicious, this is the recipe you need. I did not create it but I will now certainly move it to the front of the recipe bin! Actually, I first saw it in a magazine a couple of years ago, clipped and filed it as a possibility, and then forgot about. Don't make that mistake.

Last year, when I wanted to make an appetizer to take to my son's in-laws on Christmas, I pulled out this recipe and the "let's do this" gene kicked in! I'm so glad it did. Since I was the only "non-relative" in attendance, I felt I needed to kick it up a notch over the standard spinach dip or cheese tray. I was relieved to see it disappeared quickly. According to one young man, it was as "addictive as bacon crack". I'll take that as a compliment!

Before baking...
This year, I made it for my annual soup night, and again, it was the first app to disappear! So many people have texted me for recipe that I thought this was the easy way to go. First, credit here goes to Ina Garten, the creator of this tasty "Caramelized Bacon" appetizer/candy/sweet and savory blend, with bacon, brown sugar, pecans, pure maple syrup and a surprise touch of heat! There is absolutely no describing the scent that wafts through the house as this is baking in the oven. There is drool, but no words!

Caramelized Bacon
After baking...Yum!
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped or whole pecans
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 pound thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon (invest in a quality bacon here. This is not the time for store-brand. I used bacon smoked by the Amish who are masters at smoked meats!)
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning) and place a wire baking rack on top. (Do not skip this step. Clean up was really a breeze!)
  • Combine the brown sugar and pecans in a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Add the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and pulse to combine. Add the maple syrup and pulse again to moisten the crumbs.
  • Cut each bacon slice in half crosswise and line up the pieces on the baking rack without touching. With a small spoon, evenly spread the pecan mixture on top of each piece of bacon, using all of the mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is very browned but not burnt. If it's under baked, the bacon won't crisp as it cools.
  • While it's hot, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature. (The caramelized bacon can be made early in the day and stored at room temperature.)
Note: Using food processor is a must with this recipe. I used a mini chopper and it worked great!

Holiday entertaining doesn't need to be stressful. Make things that can be made earlier in the day and then fill your house with warm, frequent aromas that welcome everyone coming in the door. As my dear old friend Louise used to say when she came into a pot cooking on the stove, "somebody's home!" Be the person who is home! Merry Christmas!

Photos by Jo Ann Phelps

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