When we visited our son, Mike, and his family in December, Mike broke out a jar of bacon/habañero pepper infused vodka he'd been steeping for a few weeks. The heat was definitely there, but Mike was a little disappointed the bacon flavor wasn't more pronounced. I've been thinking about that since we've been home. Besides steeping vodka with bacon, how could I amplify the flavor for a nice balance of heat from the peppers and the smokiness of the bacon.
As I perused the internet looking for solutions, I found that there are quite a few folks who love bacon, probably a lot more than I do, and have concocted creative ways to use bacon, besides infusing vodka.
I had no idea there was a commercially produced bacon mayonnaise. Apparently Walmart and Kroger have never heard of it either because neither carries it.
But at $6 bucks a jar, plus $5 bucks shipping, I think I'll make my own from this recipe for Bacon Mayonnaise I posted a little over a year ago.
The same company makes Bacon Flavored Popcorn.
But I bet I could make the same thing with air popped popcorn and Bacon Salt, a recipe Michael posted over at Arkansas Foodies.
I've seen these bacon cups all over the internet, made by lining the inside of the cups in a cupcake pan and baking until the bacon is crisp.
Fill them with scrambled eggs and toppings, or maybe tomatoes and chopped avocado.
I could even conceive of making an apple pie with a lattice bacon crust.
I might even be tempted to give bacon Coke a try.
But of course, creativity and bacon-love apparently knows no bounds, for we head into the slightly bizarre realm.
I'm not quite sure how you would keep your beer from leaking all over the table, but beer from a bacon mug might be interesting. Maybe you'd just have to drink it very, very fast.
So, you say you want your car to smell like you cooked breakfast in the back seat? Voila! Bacon air freshener.
And after a meal of liver and onions, with bacon of course, you might want to chew on a toothpick for awhile. Why not prolong the flavor of the meal you've just eaten with, what else, bacon flavored toothpicks.
Or, if you're not really a toothpick sort of person and prefer the solitude of the bathroom to clean between your teeth, there's always bacon flavored dental floss.
And when you're done cleaning between your teeth, freshen your breath with bacon mints (isn't that sort of an oxymoron?).
But I could not write a post about bacon without including my personal favorite, Kevin Bacon.
So back to the bacon vodka.
Mike's use of habañero peppers was a little too hot for me so I decided to cut the heat some and pulled a couple of frozen roasted poblano peppers from the freezer. Last summer's crop. I thought the roasted pepper would impart a nice heat but not too hot.
Then I started looking around for ideas on how to best impart a stronger bacon flavor and came across a process called "fat wash".
A fat wash is based on an old method of making perfumes called Enfleurage. The technique uses fresh flowers, plain rubbing alcohol and beef suet. Animal fats absorb strong odors and flavors, as does alcohol, so any strong odor carried in the fat is imparted to the alcohol. Hence, when imparting flavor into the vodka (alcohol), if you cook the bacon, rendering out the fat, then steep the cooked bacon in the vodka, you leave the strongest bacon odor and flavor in the bacon drippings. Hence, you need to do a fat wash.
For my first try, I decided to make only a quart. I cooked six slices of bacon on medium heat to render out as much of the fat as possible and I was left with six slices of crispy bacon....
...and about a third of a cup of rendered bacon fat....
Those little black things in the bacon fat are whole pepper corns I thought I would toss in to add a peppery flavor to the finished product. It didn't work all that well.
I poured a medium grade 80 proof vodka (Smirnoff) into the warm bacon fat, screwed the lid on tight and shook the jar to emulsify the the vodka and bacon fat, like making a salad dressing. I wanted to transfer as much flavor as possible from the fat to the alcohol, so I shook the jar about every 10 or 15 minutes. For a couple of hours, each time the fat rose to the top, I shook the jar again.
After about two hours, I let the contents of the jar rest, allowing all the fat to rise to the top. Then I put the jar in the freezer for a few hours to allow the fat to completely solidify.
When the fat had completely hardened, I removed the fat cap, then strained the vodka through a coffee filter. I put the strained vodka into a clean jar, added the cooked bacon and the two roasted and seeded poblano peppers, sealed it tight and put it in the cabinet for two weeks.
Yes, I know it looks like some sort of science experiment, but baby you can taste the bacon, even in a bloody mary. But the poblano....not so much. That was the fail.
So on our trip to Walmart yesterday I purchased two nice sized fresh jalapeño peppers to use to make another batch, but this time I want to increase the heat level a couple of notches.
I'll keep you posted.