I made something the other day that’s nothing new, but I hadn’t made it in a while. It’s not a good item for the Hanukkah events that friends may be throwing, but it’s good for just about any Christmas party. I have tasted pork heaven, and its name is Pig Candy. So what is Pig Candy? It’s actually one of the easiest things to make, but oh-so-addictive and tasty. The ingredients are simple:
- Bacon. Not thick sliced or peppered
- Dark brown sugar. If only light is available, adding a bit of molasses helps
- Ground chiles. I like cayenne, chipotle and/or ancho. Ancho isn’t as hot, but is helped with a touch of cayenne.
The oven doesn’t get preheated, so don’t worry about that. Start with a cooling rack that fits inside a cookie sheet/half sheet pan, and lay on the bacon in a single layer as tightly as you can. It will shrink up a lot, so just make sure it’s not overlapped. Then place the pan in the oven and turn it to 400 degrees F. I can’t remember why this is done in a non-preheated oven, but Alton Brown told me to do it that way, so I do!
The one change I make to AB’s method is that I turn down the oven once it reaches 400 degrees. I take the pan out of the oven, turn it down to 350 degrees F, and somewhat carefully layer the sugar/chile onto the bacon.
Once it’s on the bacon, I just smooth it out a bit. I like to put a good amount on each slice of bacon as it will melt off quite a bit, and I want to be sure to have plenty left on the bacon. Once the sugar is on the bacon, I put it back in the oven, turned 180 degrees from how it started. I then start my timing; every 4 minutes, I turn the bacon again, checking doneness. I like my bacon crisp, but even if you prefer yours less crisp, it needs to be crispy for this. I also turn on my overhead vent, as things start to smoke after a while.
I immediately remove the bacon from the cooling rack onto paper towels so that it doesn’t stick to the cooling rack. If I’m doing more, I wipe off all the grease and melted sugar and start all over.
The end result is just ridiculous (My Comment: "ridiculous"... no argument here...). I’ve had people at my office offer to buy more, and one person suggested I sell it as a gourmet item locally (My Comment: "gourmet item"... just what i was thinking... right.). Little do they know that it was a bunch of barbecuers that told me how to do this stuff!
How does this become an appetizer? Pig Candy is great all on its own, but put it on a festive platter with sliced pears and brie, or figs and cheddar, or all of the above, and you’ll have a high-class appetizer that’s a bit different than anything other people may be bringing to the party.
So any of you out there trying this, if you do a variation of any sort, let me know what it was, and how it turned out.