Maple Braised Bacon

It's not everyday someone hands you a 2 pound slab bacon but when they do you should probably think long and hard about how you are going to use it. I recently made 20 pounds of guanciale and have a friend, Nate that has been making his own bacon. The last time I saw him I brought up the idea of trading some guanciale for some bacon and he agreed. When I saw the chunk of bacon that he gave me I knew that I couldn't just slice it up and fry it like an normal bacon. If you look at the slabs I cut you can see that there is a lot more meat in there than bacon you buy at the store. 

Like most people I love bacon, I can't get enough of it. Bacon is a lot like potato chips to me, I can't stop eating it until its all gone. When I was a kid my mom would make me breakfast in bed for my birthday. She would make a whole pound of bacon and I would eat all of it. The old expression that, bacon makes everything better, is so true. I have tried bacon with just about everything and I have yet to try bacon with something and not have it be great. I have said in the past that bacon is a lot like sex, some of it is better than others, but none of it is ever bad. 

Because this bacon was so meaty I wanted to try something different with it other than slicing it up and making a sandwich or something. I cut very thick slabs of the bacon about an inch thick and then braised them using a similar technique to Martin Picard's maple braised pigs feet. The end result was beautiful, the bacon was smokey and sweet and the meat just fell apart. I hate to say it but I kind of wish this bacon had a little more fat. This bacon was so meaty that at times I felt like I was eating a pork chop, a really delicious smokey pork chop. Nice job on the bacon Nate, hopefully I did it justice.

Maple Braised Bacon  

1 lbs bacon ( cut very thick)
maple syrup
chicken stock
pearl onions
1 head of garlic (cut in half)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon stone ground mustard
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

This recipe isn't about measurements it is more of a taste thing. You can add as many carrots, onions and garlic as you would like and then just adjust the syrup and stock accordingly.

1. place the pieces of bacon in a deep baking dish and then add carrots, pearl onions and garlic around the pieces of bacon, add a few sprigs of thyme.

2. pour maple syrup over each slap of bacon until it is coated, then add chicken stock just to the top edge of the bacon.

3. bake in a 300 degree oven for 2-2 1/2 hours or until the bacon is fork tender.

4. the the bacon is done remove the carrots and dice into 1/4 inch pieces.

5. remove and strain the left over baking liquid and add to a pan and bring to a boil, you want to boil this liquid until it starts to thicken up slightly.

6. make a simple vinaigrette with the mustard, vinegar and oil.

7. when you braising liquid is ready add the carrots and the vinaigrette and whisk until combined.

Serve the bacon with the sauce and some of the carrots and onions and if you are really in the mood for a treat remove all the garlic cloves and add a few of those to the finished dish.