Candied Bacon

Candied Bacon

I know, it doesn’t look like much. But trust me, you want to make this. I lost my bacon-cooking virginity to these sinfully seductive strips, and there’s no turning back.

Yesterday was my in-laws’ Christmas brunch, postponed due to that snowstorm a few weeks ago. And since I’m, y’know, a food person, I did much of the cooking. It’s not that the in-laws aren’t food people—for crying out sake they’re Italian-American—but Stephen’s mom has had some health issues and cooking is my gift to her. (My Jewishness doesn’t matter when it comes to Christmas—last year I made a glazed roast pork loin. That, I declined to taste. This bacon, on the other hand: irresistible.) Given the combo of Christmas and brunch, I decided to go whole-hog (ugh) and try my hand at bacon, which I’d never cooked before. Eaten, yes. Oh yes, in restaurants from coast to coast. But there’s a threshold to my non-kosherness, and bringing bacon into my own kitchen goes over the line.

This is not just any bacon, mind you. These little piggies are dunked in brown sugar and baked until they beg for mercy. They come out of the oven slicked with a mahogany goo that combines with the smoky saltiness of the meat… Oh my. I dare you to cook up a batch and not burn your fingers grabbing a piece fresh out of the oven.

Candied Bacon
Serves, um, two?

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated pepper, if desired
1 pound thick-cut bacon

Preheat oven to 350. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (use two layers—this gets messy) and set a cooling rack inside it. Coat the rack with nonstick spray.

If using pepper, combine with sugar in a pie plate (if not, just dump the sugar into the plate). Separate strips of bacon and press into the sugar, then flip over and press the other side. Use your fingers to lightly brush off any heavily caked sections, then lay the strips on the prepared rack. Don’t sweat it if you have spare sugar. It’s fine if the strips touch—the bacon will shrink a bit. VERY IMPORTANT: Pour ½ cup of water into the bottom of the baking sheet. Failure to do so will result in giant, terrifying billows of black smoke streaming from your oven. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Bake for 20-40 minutes, until bacon is as crunchy as you like. (I like mine chewy-crunchy, so it was done at about 30 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool slightly before removing—that sugar will be downright molten. Bacon will firm up as it cools.