Posts Tagged BACON

Baked Stuffed Clams

NorwayDeepClamShells-Legendary ShellsHere’s a mighty tasty recipe. This is one of those appetizers that people don’t think of making very often, mostly because they cringe when they think of having to shuck clams to make it. Actually, you don’t have to do any of that. In most supermarkets, you can purchase chopped clams in their broth. These are usually somewhere in front of the fish section in cold case. Or you can visit a seafood store and purchase them. Or, you can simply buy the snows chopped clams in the can. They work perfectly fine for this recipe. (Or, if you like the labor, you can buy clams and shuck them yourself.)

You can also go online and purchase clam shells for this recipe. These are durable, oven-resistant, dishwasher-safe, reusable clam shells that are made specifically for this purpose. Here’s a link to a good online source called Legendary Shells.

It says that the Pancetta or bacon is optional, but I wouldn’t leave it out. It adds great depth of flavor, particularly since the recipe calls for sage. People often ask me what the difference is between Pancetta and regular bacon. Pancetta is often called Italian bacon, and is essentially bacon without the smoky flavor, so it just depends upon which you prefer.

Ingredients

2.5 cups chopped clam meat (retain the clam juice)

Retained clam juice (if you are working with whole, fresh clams, purchase a bottle of Snow’s Clam Juice)

6 clam shells (for cooking; see note above)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups Italian style bread crumbs

1 tbsp dried broken-leaf sage

Kosher salt (to taste)

Fresh-ground black pepper (to taste)

Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 egg

3 tbsp cold butter

1/2 cup chopped Pancetta or bacon, chopped and cooked until crispy (optional, but not really)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

If you’re working with whole clams, you can chop them by hand or use a food processor.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes. Stir frequently so that the garlic does not burn.

Remove from heat and transfer everything to a bowl. Allow it to cool a bit. Then, add your bread crumbs, sage, salt and pepper (sparingly), red pepper flakes, and clams.

Whisk the egg with the retained clam juice. Add it to the dry ingredients and mix gently. If you are adding the Pancetta or bacon (and I strongly suggest you do), now is the time to add that to the mixture. If the mixture appears dry (and it probably will not with the addition of the meat), here’s where that bottle of Snow’s clam juice comes in handy.

Fill the shells with the clam mixture, and place a chunk of butter on the top of each one.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

My friend Bill says to serve this with lemon wedges and cold beer. Wine works too, if you’re not a beer drinker (like me).

 

 

 

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Homemade Baked Beans

bakedbeans4I remember eating beans and franks when I was a kid. I thought the B & M brand was pretty darned good. When I got older and I got a craving for these things, I tried Bush’s. Now I wouldn’t even think about buying baked beans in a can. I made a batch over the weekend, and I used a slow cooker.

This recipe calls for bacon, rather than pork fat back. I prefer either the maple cured bacon or the apple cider cured bacon. If you can get thick-cut, all the better. But the recipe works fine with traditional thinner cut bacon as well.

Ingredients

1 lb navy beans

1 lb Apple Cider Cured or Maple Cured Bacon, chopped

1.5 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup molasses

1.5 cups Ketchup

1 onion (red or Vidalia), chopped

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tbsp dried mustard

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 tbsp salt

Directions

Soak the navy beans in cold water overnight. You can also boil them for one hour instead of soaking them, but I prefer the soaking method to prepare the beans.

Cook the bacon until it’s a bit crispy. Then, drain it on paper towels. Drain the beans and add them to the slow cooker along with the cooked bacon, as well as the rest of the ingredients. Stir to mix.

Cook on low for 4 hours, then on high for 5 hours. I then left mine on overnight on the warm setting. You can stir the pot occasionally if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. (I did until I went to sleep.)

Delicious!

 

 

 

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Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed With Goat Cheese

Dates wrapped in baconThere isn’t an easier appetizer on the planet. And there isn’t one more delicious than this. In fact, these are downright addictive, and you might not have any room for the main course. These are crazy good. The contrast in taste between the sweetness of the dates and the saltiness of the bacon is amazing. The goat cheese may seem to simply be along for the ride, but it’s a pretty important ingredient.

I like to use Carando Apple Cider cured bacon, but any bacon will do…except turkey bacon. Sorry, it just doesn’t cut it. Save that for some other dish. Some recipes call for plain goat cheese. I like to use the herbed goat cheese for this recipe. Either way, you can’t miss.

Ingredients

1 package of Medjool Dates (about 20 per package)

Ten slices of bacon, cut in half

1 4-oz package of goat cheese, warmed to room temperature

1 tbsp half-and-half

Directions

Once the goat cheese has been brought to room temperature, add a splash of half-and-half and mix. Slice the dates and remove the pits. Using a teaspoon, stuff each date with some goat cheese. You’ll know when enough is there. Wrap in bacon.

Place in a 350-degree oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, checking occasionally. You’ll be able to tell when the bacon is cooked to perfection.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving plate. People can take these with their fingers, if you want. I prefer to stick a toothpick through each one on the serving dish.

 

 

 

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Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

brussel-sproutsLet’s talk about Brussel Sprouts. I know. Don’t turn up your nose. If you cook them right, they really aren’t bitter. We don’t want to eat them raw. We don’t want to boil them. But I’ve got to tell you, I’ve made true Brussel Sprout haters into Brussel Sprout lovers with this recipe. And there are a whole lot of good reason to eat Brussel Sprouts. I’m not going to go into detail in this blog, but you can click here for a rundown. Depending upon where you buy these, they come two ways. Either they are sold individually (sometimes prepackaged) or what I like to call “on the vine.” Doesn’t matter which way you buy them.

Roasting vegetables is one of my favorite things. Generally speaking, I like them quite brown when they come out of the oven. Sometimes when I take these out of the oven, they are crunchy (which I like). But really, you get to decide when to take them out. All that really matters is that they are soft (you can tell by checking with a fork) and browned to the degree you want them to be browned. This is where you apply that “think outside the recipe” thing.

Ingredients

1-1/2 lbs Brussel Sprouts

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp rainbow pepper

2 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp Tuscan Seasoning (I use McCormick’s; great stuff)

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle (you can make a reduction by yourself, or you can buy it ready to go)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Trim off the bottom of the sprout, remove the outer layers and cut in half. Be aware that sometimes a few leaves fall off. Don’t toss them if you’re a lover of crunch. I throw them in the pan.

Toss the sprouts with the olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, salt, rainbow pepper and Tuscan seasoning. Place them in a roasting pan.

Roast at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven, place on serving dish, and drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle.*

Add-Ins: These are delicious just as is, but I’ve got to tell you about bacon. Every once in a while, I like to  cook about five slabs of apple cider cured bacon (Carando makes a good one) nice and crispy, then break them up. (A nice alternative is chopped Pancetta, which is Italian bacon). Before serving, toss the sprouts with the bacon, then apply the drizzle. Wow! Another great add-in just before serving is a half cup of parmesan. Can’t go wrong. Hell, use both the bacon and the parmesan.

*You can make your own drizzle by dumping a bottle of Balsamic Vinegar in a heavy bottom pot. The only other thing you need is a stirring implement and plenty of time. You don’t want to simmer the vinegar. It has to be a slow process that can take up to two hours. Be sure to vent your kitchen, especially if you have kids. They can get pissed off with the smell.

Alternatively, Vervacious in Maine makes some delicious Balsamic Drizzle. I’ve used the Espresso Balsamic and the Chocolate Balsamic in the past. There is a link to Vervacious on the blog. Other specialty stores also carry this.

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