Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ring In 2010 With Oscar Mayer Bacon

Chef John Li has one of the most enviable jobs in the world. As senior executive chef for Kraft Foodservice, he gets to spend his workday playing with his food.

Among the recent edibles he's been toying with: Oscar Mayer Super Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon. The name might be a mouthful, but so's the bacon--at nine slices per 16-oz package, an individual strip is more than twice the thickness of your average rasher. Why, when the bacon lovers of America are seeing their food budgets getting trimmer, did Oscar Mayer decide to plump up its bacon?

"Bacon is hot right now--it's the 'It' ingredient," says Chef Li. "Fine-dining restaurants are cutting their own pork bellies and trying things with different smokes, cutting bacon very thick, and putting a lot of effort into it. We wanted to give people that restaurant experience, but without the expense or hassle."

Their hard work paid off--the super-thick rashers have more in common with a steak than the flimsy, paper-thin pork strips most bacon brands you find in a supermarket. "Cutting it thick over thin gives you a whole different eating experience--it's more meaty and indulgent," he says. It also uses applewood, rather than the conventional hickory, for a better balance between the meat's savory/salty/smoky notes.

After Oscar Mayer came up with the Super Thick prototype, Chef Li and co. got to play mad bacon scientists and come up with recipes. They crafted maple-bacon ice cream, poured bacon bloody marys, and whipped up batches of candied bacon. They also cooked it up by its lonesome. By the way, Chef Li advises that if you're cooking up a mess o' bacon at once, oven-baking is the way to go. Less mess, no need to flip, and it imparts the Super Thick bacon with that ideal chewy/crispy texture baconeers crave so desperately. However, if you're cooking up a few strips, he encourages home chefs to use a wide, deep-sided skillet...and reserve the pan grease for other cooking (toasting croutons for salad, say).

The people at Oscar Mayer were kind enough to ship a bunch of the Super Thick bacon to BDJ Labs, along with some of Chef Li's recipe creations. We tried them, to universal rave reviews. However, as awesome as the bacon is in recipes, it's delish all by itself--consensus among Labs staff is that it's better than any bacon we've ever picked up from a supermarket, end of story.

As you're preparing for your New Year's Eve celebrations, and tomorrow's football-watching parties, you might want to one or all of these scrumptious ideas yourself, and get 2010 off to a fabulous, bacony start.

CHEESY BACON BRUSCHETTA
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 28 minutes
Serves 4
Ingredients:

2 slices Oscar Mayer Super Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-in-wide strips
4 slices French bread, 3/4 in thick
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, halved
4 extra-thin Swiss cheese slices, cut in half
1 plum tomato, seeded/chopped
HEAT broiler.
COOK and stir bacon in skillet on medium heat 12 min. or until browned; drain on paper towels.
MEANWHILE, brush one side of each bread slice with oil. Broil, 4 inches from heat, 1 to 2 min. or until toasted; rub with cut sides of garlic.
COVER with 4 cheese pieces, bacon and tomatoes. Top with remaining cheese; broil 1 min. or until melted.

NEW ORLEANS-STYLE MAPLE-BACON PRALINES

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes 25 servings
Ingredients:
6 slices OSCAR MAYER Super Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, finely chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 c whipping cream
1 pkg (6 oz) pecan halves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
COOK and stir bacon in skillet on medium heat 12 min. or until browned; drain on paper towels
PLACE next 5 ingredients in large saucepan; cook on medium heat 15 min. or until temperature reaches 239ºF (soft-ball stage) on candy thermometer, stirring occasionally.
REMOVE saucepan from heat. Stir in bacon, nuts and cinnamon. Immediately pour onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray; refrigerate 10 min. or until firm. Break into bite-size pieces.

TEXAS-STYLE BLT
Prep Time 15 minutes
Serves 2
Ingredients:
1-1/2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1-1/2 Tbsp. thick-and-spicy barbecue sauce
4 slices cracked wheat bread, toasted
2 lettuce leaves
2 slices sweet onion
1 tomato, cut into 4 slices
4 slices OSCAR MAYER Super Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, cooked
MIX mayo and barbecue sauce; spread onto toast slices.
FILL toast slices with remaining ingredients to make 2 sandwiches.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BREAKIN' BACON NEWS: Sweet bacon cookoff

Baconeers know that salty, savory bacon makes an excellent companion to sweet stuff--chocolate, apples, caramel, etc. Now, one of the country's finer newspapers has caught on and is sponsoring a bacon dessert cookoff. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is offering fame and fabulous prizes to one amateur chef, and one pro, who can come up with a tantalizing treat that features bacon. You have until Jan. 11 to send in your entry. Think you have what it takes? Click here, Spartacus.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bacon Bit: Chicago Mag's Big Bacon Bonanza

The excellent local rag Chicago Magazine has put five bacon brands to the test--
1. Strips from Paulina Meat Market
2. Applewoody bacon from Nueske's
3. Pork planks from Niman Ranch
4. Hickory-smoked jobbies from Gepperth's
5. Applewood-smoked stuff from Dreymiller & Kray

Not surprising, Nueske's came out on top, but the others measured up fairly well. If you'd like to read the details, click right here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Test #193: Bacon and ESCAROLE

The subject
The BDJ Labs Christmas dinner consisted of a bunch of Food Network recipes, including a dish from Emeril Lagasse: Herb Cheese-stuffed Eggplant with Braised Radicchio, Fennel and Escarole. Absolutely scrumptious, despite the complete absence of bacon from the ingredient list. The downside: we're up to our armpits in leftover escarole, which is a leafy green related to endive (fun fact: also a close cousin of the daisy). We're weary of escarole salads, so we figured, WTF--let's wrap some in bacon.

The result
Wow--two "meh" tests in a row. Not good. Not horrible, either--the flavor was pretty okay, but the texture was a little off. We likes us some wilted greens, but the escarole hunks we wrapped up in the bacon got too wilty. A far better combo would have been a salad with a poppyseed or ranch dressing, and some crispy bacon crumbled atop the whole shebang.

The conclusion: Bacon + escarole = not exactly BAM! worthy

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Test #192: Bacon and VODKA BEANS

The subject
Vodka is a magical libation--but dang, it's expensive (except for the low-brow brands like Wolfschmidt, which some well-meaning soul brought to our BDJ Labs Halloween party and left here, but it's about eight miles past nasty, unfortunately). Which is why, when we saw a box labeled "vodka beans" at Gene's Sausage Shop in Chicago's Lincoln Square, we were thrilled. We envisioned extracting the seeds from said beans, planting them in the patch of earth behind the complex, then harvesting 1.75-L bottles of the stuff toward the end of the summer.

Sadly, the "beans" are somewhat of a fraud--they're actually little boomerang-shaped chocolates with vodka filling. No vodka bushes in the backlot for us. Still pretty awesome, though--each little boozy bonbon is 26 proof, so if you were to eat a box all by yourself, you'd be feeling no pain. We decided to wrap one in bacon and see if we couldn't improve on the beans.

The results
Meh. The whole, in this case, is not greater than the sum of the parts. The bacon cooked up crisp-chewy, but the bacon and hootch kind of escaped, even though we wrapped the beans up in swaddling bacon clothes, kind of like tiny 8 lb, 6 oz baby Jesus. So, we were left with bacon that was merely kissed with chocolate, and a hint of vodka-y goodness. It would have been better had we cooked the bacon, then maybe topped a slice with a bean. Better yet, keep the two separate and enjoy their wonders apart.

The conclusion: Bacon + vodka beans = nyet good.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Give YOURSELF the gift of bacon!

The gifts are all opened, the wrapping paper's in the Dumpster, and the Christmas wine has become hangover juice (sorry--we'll type quietly so we don't make your headache worse). Did you get everything you wanted? Probably not. At the very least, we KNOW you didn't get enough bacon.

We at BDJ Labs are nothing, if not helpful. We'd love to help you reduce your holiday bacon deficit with a package of delicious Oscar Mayer Super Mega Ultra Thick bacon. It's awesome--about the size of three regular, wussy strips of bacon stacked on top of each other. Perfect for recipes, well-above-average BLTs, and all your other bacon needs. To get your own personal bacon, you just have to:
A. Become a BDJ Disciple (scroll down the right-hand side of this page and scroll down to the "follow" button--hit that puppy and you're golden).
B. Retweet this here message: "RT this here tweet and win Oscar Mayer#BACON from Bacon Du Jour! http://bacn.me/kgl #bdjme "

We'll draw a few ppl from Column A and Column B and send them coupons for free packages of Oscar Mayer Super Thick Bacon. You can enter up to six times a day (any more than that and you'll annoy the shiitake out of your followers).

Good luck, baconeers!

Friday, December 25, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 12: The Greatest Gift of All

Oh, hell--it's Christmas Day and, on your way to the big family gathering, you realize you forgot a gift for your mom/sister/grandma/the weird uncle you hope you don't have to sit next to at dinner because he drinks too much and quotes Glenn Beck constantly. The only store open is Walgreen's, and you really don't want to get your giftee the latest copy of In Touch. Give them bacon--it's cheap, delicious, and you're sure to get high praise from all the others in the room.

A very bacon-y Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 11: Christian Yoga

What does this have to do with bacon, you ask? Nothing, really--it's just really friggin' funny. Janine Turner, who used to star in Northern Exposure, a top-rated television show (lo, how the mighty have fallen) is now sharing with us the wonders of combining Christ's love with the body-toning wonders of yoga. As she and yoga whiz Mary Cunningham work through poses like the Mighty Disciple and Salvation Rotation, they impart life lessons and discuss scripture. It must work--look at the abs Jesus gave her.

While, sadly, this is out of print, you can find it used at eBay, used video stores, and the like. Good luck, and God bless.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 10: Bacon Book

Many a baconeer isn't content with feeding their mouth bacon--they also wish to feed their minds. How is bacon made? Where does it come from? Where does the word "bacon" come from? Author and bacon broad Heather Lauer's book answers all those questions and more--and includes tons of delicious recipes to boot.

Amazon.com, $12.23.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BREAKING BACON: Big Oscar Mayer Bacon Bonanza Giveaway!

The staff of BDJ Labs is pleased as punch to announce our first BIG! BACON! GIVEAWAY! The kind folks at Oscar Mayer were kind enough to send us a big pig pack of their new super-duper thick, applewood smoked bacon (rave review coming soon), and a huge-ass stack of coupons for when we run out. While we'd very much like to keep all of this fabulousness for ourselves, this stuff is too good NOT to share. So, we're giving it away.

"How can I get some of that yummy Oscar Mayer bacon in my own belleh?" you ask? We answer--one (or both) of two ways:
1. Become a BDJ Disciple--scroll down on the home page and look on the right. See that "follow" button? Click that mother and you're entered.
2. Tweet for meat--cut and paste the following msg to your followers "Free Oscar Mayer bacon? Yes, please! http://bacn.me/jx3 #bdjme"

Each day, we'll draw a lucky winner and announce here on BDJ until we run out of coupons. We're not gonna start drawing until the day after Christmas, but you can get a jump on your competition by following BDJ and tweeting now. Tweet up to six entries a day.

Good luck, and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 8: Nueske's Bacon

We were gonna say something corny like, "And on the eighth day, God created Nueske's bacon," but he didn't. However, he DID create the Nueske family some odd years ago, and THEY created their heavenly bacon. There's a reason why chefs all over the country use Nueske's swine strips in their recipes, and why restaurants all over the U.S. of A. give Nueske's top billing on their menus--it's incomparable.

The staff of BDJ Labs made a pilgrimage to Wittenberg, Wisconsin last week and picked up several pounds of the stuff (report to come next week), and we've been munching on it steadily since we returned. However, since we know not everyone's within easy driving distance of the Bacon Capitol of the World, we're more than happy to share the Nueske's site, where you can buy bacon, sausage, hams, and all sorts of treats, and have them delivered to your beloved's door. Purchase this for the baconeers on your list, and you'll definitely be their favorite person this joyous season.

Nueske's, prices vary.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 7: Bacon Tux Gag Gift Box

While not a gift, per se, this is still an item that you'll want to give to someone. When your gift recipient unwraps your gift, they'll see this box hawking a tuxedo made of bacon. Hopefully they'll be highly amused (rather than heartbreakingly disappointed) when they open the box to find something other than meaty formalwear.

BaronBob.com, $5.95

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 6: Bacon-Maple Coffee

Undeniably, one of the best smell combinations in the world is the comingled aroma of just-brewed coffee and hot, crispy bacon. Enter Maple Bacon Morning from the folks at Boca Java. This caffeinated concoction puts the tantalizing flavors and scents of a hot cuppa joe and salted pork strips together in one place. Weird? Possibly. Genius? Undeniably.

Boca Java, $7.49/8 oz.

Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 5: Pimp Bacon!

Etsy.com is chock fulla handmade gifts--some sublime, some ridiculous (the latter enshrined on the fabulous Web site Regretsy.com). If you yourself aren't artistically inclined and would like to give your sweetie a personalized, unique bacon-themed gift, log onto Etsy.com and type in "bacon"--you'll find scores of earrings, dolls, miniatures, and ...well, we're not sure what you'd call Pimp Bacon. An action figure? Yeah, we'll go with that.

Etsy.com, $17

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 4: Bacon Baskets from Bleeding Heart Bakery

Some days we, the happy baconeers at BDJ Labs, can't believe our good fortune. One of those days came a few weeks ago, when Michelle G. of Chicago's famous Bleeding Heart Bakery, invited us to help sample some of the bacon-laden treats she crafted for her holiday bacon baskets. From bacon brownies, to salt/pepper/bacon shortbread, to "breakfast bark" (hunks of dark chocolate with espresso, java beans, and bits o' bacon), each edible was more delectable than the one before.

Our luck must be rubbing off on you through your computer screen, because now you, dear BDJ fan, can procure all of these bacony treats for a loved one or yourself in one of BDJ Labs gift baskets. Tucked into each one is a stunning array of bacon edibles and gifts, such as Archie McPhee's "Bacon Squeezins" water bottles, Mike A.'s world-famous bacon caramels, bacon chocolate chip cookies, Das Foods's "Man Bait" maple/bacon lollipops, and more. We'd buy these for everyone on our Christmas lists, but we're afraid we'd take them home and eat them all up before the holiday, so maybe we'd better have them delivered instead.

Bleeding Heart Bakery; call 773-327-6934 for pricing details.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 3: Baconfest Chicago T-shirt

Coming in April: Baconfest Chicago, a day of celebrating the world's perfect food. Four months is a long time to wait for such a joyous occasion, but why not look fashionable (and bacony) while you wait for the event to arrive? This Baconfest Chicago T-shirt (modeled by Seth Z., one of the event's top baconeers) is comfortable, stylish, and undeniably cool. Unfortunately, it's made out of cotton, not bacon, so don't try eating it.

BaconfestChicago.com, $20.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 2: Bacon Watch

This isn't a new item, but a fast classic--Archie McPhee's bacon watch should be on the wrist of every baconeer in the world. Sadly, most wrists in the BDJ Labs are still adorned by borning, non-meaty timepieces because no one's gifted us with one of these. Santa, if you're listening, please stuff one of these in every BDJ Labs staffer's stocking, so that we all can have a merry, porky Christmas.

ArchieMcPhee, $24.99.

Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Bacon Gift Guide Item 1: MMMvelopes


First, there were plain boring envelopes that, when licked, gave a mild but weird chemical taste. Then, office-product innovators came up with minty ones--nice try, but they didn't make the task of mailing stuff much better (or less tongue-sticky). Now, thank the Lord, there are MMMvelopes. From the makers of BaconSalt, these mailers not only LOOK like bacon, the sticky stuff on the flap TASTES like bacon. The USPS might want to prepare for the inevitable rush of mail that's coming, now that these babies are commercially available--they just might revive the lost art of letter writing.

25 envelopes for $6.99, www.mmmvelopes.com

Friday, December 11, 2009

Give the Gift of Bacon

Tis the season of giving, and eating. What better gift to give, then, than bacon? That's why BDJ Labs is stuffing your stocking with its annual Bacon Gift Guide next week. We'll share with you the hottest (and tastiest) pork-themed presents to give to your beloved baconeers, or to buy for yourself.

Have you spotted any delicious bacony gifts? If so, please send 'em to our attention: bdjlabs@gmail.com. If your idea gets listed, you just might win a fabulous prize from our bacon prize closet!

Happy Holidays!

BDJ

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Aside of Bacon: The Lost Art of Liner Notes

Yeah, we know--records have nothing to do with bacon. However, we picked up a record at a resale shop, and the liner notes are too delicious (there's your connection, if you need one) NOT to share.

Long before MP3 downloads set the recording industry on its ear, there were these big, flat, Frisbee-looking things called "records"--also known as "LPs" or "albums." Still used by DJs and musicphile hipster doofuses, they're now an endangered species. While listening to your iPod just calls for pushing buttons, playing a record is a physical, almost ritualistic experience. Slowly slip the delicate disc from its cardboard shell, touching only the edges (fingerprints and scratches are instant death to a record), and gingerly lower it onto the turntable before carefully resting the needle onto the album. Head BDJ Labs Tech Jenni S. collects albums, but while others select theirs by the quality of the music or affection for the artist, she chooses her albums for the uniqueness of the covers. Her living room wall is decorated with a scary array of candy-colored covers, singers with bad hair, and curious drawings of beer cans.

Lost with the decline of records is the art of liner notes. Each album cover had about a square foot of space to entice eyeballs with the cover (one of the most enticing being Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream and Other Delights, featuring a woman wearing nothing but dessert topping), and lure them in with text on the back cover. These little nuggets of literature were important enough to the recording industry that they used to give out Grammys for them. Stan Cornyn earned the title "King of the Liner Notes" for writing scores of these testaments, making even the dreckiest of dreck sound like aural gold. In the case of Nancy Sinatra's 1966 album Boots, the author took the whole "seduction" perhaps a little too literally:

"She looks good, dresses good, lives good, eats, drinks, loves, breathes, dances, sings, cries good. Five foot three and tiger eyes. A mouth made for lollipops or kisses. Stingers or melting smiles. Ninety-five pounds of affection.

She's been there already. Barely in her twenties, she looks younger. That look, like Lolita Humbert, like Daisy Clover. The power to exalt, or to destroy, wanting only the former, but unafraid to invoke the latter if the time comes.

The eyes that see through, know more, look longer.

Unafraid to pull on the boots again, toss off a burnt out thing with a casual 'So long, babe,' and get.

A young fragile living thing, on its own in a woundrous world. On her own. Earning her daily crepes and Cokes by singing the facts of love. Her voice tells as much as her songs. No faked up grandure, her voice is like it is, a litte tired, little put down, a lot loving.

No one is born sophisticated. It's a place you have to crawl to, crawling out of hayseed country, over miles of unsanded pavement, past Trouble, past corners and forks with no auto club signs to point you, till you get there and you wake up wiser.

She's arrived. She sings you about the long crawl. And makes you have to listen.

She's there."


Pretty heavy stuff for a record that consists mostly of covers, capped off by a novelty song. Still, the liner notes give you something to look at while you wait for the music to start in that little gap between the time you drop the needle on the spinning record and the notes hit your ears.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Test #191: Bacon and ALMOND JOY PIECES

The subject
When not eating bacon, the staff of BDJ Labs often fortifies themselves with one of the other major food groups: candy. Almond Joy is one of our favorite chocolatey confections, but we have to agree with the sentiment of the taller gentleman in this comic: while the candy delivers the eponymous nuts the label promises, we've never munched down on Almond Joy and found it contained actual boundless happiness.

Almond Joy Pieces, however, are another story. When we first encountered them at the National Confectioners Association's 2009 show, we were happy to see the fine people at Hershey's had the bright idea to expand the "pieces" concept to other candies in its stable, including York Peppermint Patties, Hershey's Dark and Almond Joy. While all were yummy, the Almond Joy Pieces made us jump for...well, joy. They pack wee pieces of almond and coconut in a candy shell, perfectly replicating the experience of eating the full-size candy bar in a wee little nugget of yum. The only letdown: the candy wouldn't be on the market until the end of the year, which meant that when our samples were eaten (30 seconds after we got home from the show, sadly), we'd have MONTHS to wait until we could restock.

We couldn't stop ourselves from happy-dancing when we saw the bright blue package on our local grocery shelves last week. We took home two of the stand-up pouches and promptly wrapped some of the buttony candies in bacon.

The results
Ooh, baby. The shell melted completely, and the colored sugar oozed out the side, which lead to blue bacon (neat!). What remained was the chocolate, almond, and coconut goodness, so the tidbits were pretty much just bacon-covered Almond Joy--a flavor combination we give all-around enthusiastic thumps up. Definitely worth repeating. Our one recommendation: if you or your guests might find Smurf-colored bacon a turnoff, weed out the blue Pieces and use just the beigey ones.

The conclusion: Bacon + Almond Joy Pieces = ooh, baby.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bacon Bit: Genius in Marketing


There are hardly words to express our glee. If only this bacon-hawking monster vehicle were parked in our neighborhood. Thanks to Carl Weaver at the National Confectioners Association for bringing this awesome sight to our attention.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Test #190: Bacon and CARROT

The subject
People say they love a certain food all the time. But when we at BDJ Labs say we love carrots, we mean it. Carrots are the closest to candy that a vegetable can come, and we sing the praises of the person who first packaged baby carrots. This love for the vegetable traces back to our childhoods, during which carrots were frequent, welcome occupants of our lunchboxes--and in the case of BDJ Labs' Head Tech Jenni S., a carrot was a cherished friend. Well, sort of; she had a stuffed carrot doll (like the one at left, only about a foot tall and with dangly arms/legs) that she carried around. She was a weird kid.

But we digress. Carrots rule--not nearly as much as bacon, but they rank among our favorite non-meat edibles. We at BDJ Labs figured that wrapping a lucky wee baby carrot in a strip of salted pork could only increase our deep abiding love for the king of vegetables, so we swaddled one infant carrot in a bacon blanket. Let's see how the delivery turned out...

The results
Our expectation of success didn't diminish our pleasure at the results. The carrot cooked up perfectly--still crisp, not at all mushy--and its sweetness increased, making it a perfect complement to the savory bacon. Were we to do this recipe again, we'd bacon-wrap a whole litter of baby carrots, bake them, and sprinkle a wee bit of brown sugar on them in the last few minutes of cooking. Mmm, candied bacon carrots...

The conclusion: Bacon + carrot = Thumbs up, doc

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bacon Bit: Beer AND Bacon? We're There!

So there's this site called Groupon, and if you sign up, every day you get offered some fabulous deal in your city--half-off your bill at a great sushi place, 60% a massage at a spa, 75% off at a skydiving joint, etc. We at BDJ Labs don't hit the "buy" button on Groupon deals a fraction of the times that we want to, because times are tight and stuff. However, this morning Head Lab Tech Jenni S. saw today's offer in her inbox and took about a millisecond of thinking before signing up. Here's the deal:

Paddy Long's, an Irish flavored joint on Diversey in Chicago, offers a two-hour event during which they pair five different bacons with five different seasonal brews. The hosts guide you through the Italian pancettas and Danish bacon and other meats, and how their various sweet/savory properties make them great matches for the beers and ales they're mated with. The kicker: Groupon's offering the experience for $20, about half the normal pricetag.

Without further ado, here's the link. Click here, and we'll see you there.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bacon Bit: Bacon turkey review coming

BDJ Labs' tech department seems to have misplaced (again!) the cord that connects the BDJ Labs' BaconCam to the BaconPuter's USB port so, unfortunately, we haven't been able to upload photos of the results yet. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to send our Head of Procurement out to a local computer store to replace it. Until then, please enjoy this video, quite possibly the cutest 17 seconds ever.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bacon Bit: Not turkey bacon--BACON TURKEY

We won't go into our feelings about the culinary lie that is "turkey bacon"--we'll let this pic tell that tale for us. We will, however, share with you our love for bacon turkey. You hopefully already know how fabulous a turkey club is, with its marriage of moist bird slices and salty pig strips. Cook the two together, though, and the union becomes a holy one.

The process is insanely simple: use your fingers to loosen the skin over the breast, so that there's a nice gap. This is where you slide strips of delicious smoked bacon. We prefer Nueske's for the purpose--the intense smokiness and sweetness of the applewood permeates the turkey and makes the bird itself take on a smoked flavor. Anyway, so you slide the strips so that there's a single layer across the turkey's whole top area, and cook like you usually would. If you need help figuring that out, I highly recommend the hugely helpful and informative Butterball site--our favorite feature is the turkey-time calculator; you just type the poundage in, and it tells you the time.

We can't tell you how delicious the gravy from a bacon turkey is. It's not a secret or anything--we just don't want to drool on the keyboard and short out the BDJ Labs laptop.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On loss and love of BACON

NOTE: Today's post is written by BDJ Labs' head technician, Jenni S. The views expressed herein are her own and not necessarily shared by the rest of the BDJ Labs staff, its management or owners. Okay, they totally ARE, but we had to say that stuff. Lawyers. Anyway...

I'm a loser. At least, I am according to the results of Wendy's hunt to find the country's biggest bacon fan. The Twitter-based contest consisted of 12 days of gunning for points by tweeting with the #bacon hashtag, writing bacon haiku, taking pics of bacon, making bacon crafts, blogging about bacon, answering bacon questions, creating bacon videos, yada yada yada. Despite the fact that I love bacon more than anyone else I've ever met, I came in fourth. I guess I should be happy, considering I didn't learn about the contest until it'd already begun, and I didn't figure out the trick to racking up the points until almost the very end. Yet, when the bacony smoke cleared and I found myself without a single prize, I was devastated. Ah, well--what would any sporting contest be without bad calls and/or heartbreaking losses?

Friday night, when the curtain went down on the Wendy's contest and I learned I'd lost, I was as heartbroken as a 8-year-old girl finding out Santa had forgotten to leave a Barbie Dream House underneath the Christmas tree and, instead, discovered boxes of Carter's undershirts. I'd worked my bacon-loving BUTT off the last day of the contest to secure the $200 daily prize. I made a bacon mobile:


...I made a rocking, blingy bacon bracelet:

Isn't it pretty? By the way, in case you were wondering about what happened to the strip entwined around my wrist, and whether or not it got tossed, you needn't be concerned. I didn't waste the bacon--this sucker, raw in the picture, went right from around my wrist to a preheated oven, where it was baked to crispy perfection. Yum, lunch. In fact, not a single strip of delicious, savory bacon was wasted in the entire course of the contest--not by ME, anyway.

...with the help of Seth at BaconFest Chicago, I tracked down bacon-lover Kelly, who graciously sent me pics of her Japanese-character tattoo of the word "bacon" with my Twitter ID stuck next to it:


I tweeted about bacon all day long--exceeding the maximum of three times an hour. I came up with countless things that bacon would say #ifbaconcouldtalk. I posted a heartwarming bacon story to the Wendy's site (with photographic evidence submitted to the contest's cruise director, UrBaconMeCrazy). I did every single thing I was supposed to do, and as of 5pm, by my calculations I was so far ahead of the pack that I could have STOPPED tweeting about #bacon and #ifbaconcouldtalk at that point and still came out on top. Yet, when I checked the leader board at the end of the evening, there I was, behind several others. I was heartbroken.

Two days later, however, my pain has abated greatly. In fact, it's been replaced by the realization that I don't give a pork butt about points and tweets and leader boards. No offense, IsCoolerThanYou or SimplyDab--you might have racked up the gift cards and prizes, but I came away from the contest with something better: the rock-hard conviction that I AM THE GREATEST BACON LOVER EVER. It's not that I eat more bacon than anyone--I have no idea or desire to quantify the amount--or that I talk about bacon more than anyone. It's that my passion for all things bacon runs so deep that I cannot imagine it running any deeper, in anyone else, anywhere. Bacon is in my SOUL. So there.

I'm very thankful to the wonderful people at Wendy's for putting their bacon love out there so strongly, and for having the cajones to put together such a powerful, creative social media experiment. I hope this is only the beginning of the company's push to achieve total bacon global domination. I'll back that 100%.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Test #189: Bacon and POMEGRANATE

Pomegranate's soared in popularity in the past few years because it's crazy fulla antioxidants. We don't really care if it's a capital-S "Superfood"--we just know that it tastes, well, super. And, in addition to offering up a wonderful tart-sweet flavor combo, the edible seeds of the fruit deliver a fun texture; the crunchy seed is enveloped in a thick coating of gooey goodness. Your first encounter with pomegranate can be confusing, but as our hero Alton Brown explains in this episode of Good Eats (yes, that's two days of Alton worship in a row), it's not that hard to break into a pomegranate at all.



We decided to take a few of the sensational seeds and wrap them in bacon.

The result


While the slippery seeds were a bear to wrap up--we gave up trying to wrangle them and just kind of sandwiched them between two bacon layers--the trouble paid off. We half expected the seeds to explode during the baking process, but no special effects occured, other than the magic the two elements worked on each other. The pomegranate seeds took on a wee bit of the bacon's salty-savory flavor, and the bacon around them became sweet and sour. Nibbled together, the combination of flavors and textures made eating the tidbit delightful. Definitely worth repeating.

The conclusion: Bacon + pomegranate = a super food combination

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bacon Bit: Cooking genius recommends waffle iron for bakin' bacon

Normally we wouldn't question the genius of Good Eats host Alton Brown. He's taught us about roasting our own coffee, how to make pickles, aging our own steaks, and the best way to bust open a pomegranate--all fantastic advice we use on a regular basis. However, when we saw the video our friends at Lifehacker picked up on, showing Mr. Brown touting the benefits of cooking bacon in a waffle iron, we balked. What about the mess? The grease drainage? Waffle-patterned bacon? Granted, the waffle iron in BDJ Labs was procured at Target for $8, so it's not very big and doesn't have removable, dishwasherable plates in it, but still--sounds weird to us. We stand by our recommendation that bacon be cooked in the oven--on a nonstick-sprayed cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan, at 350, for 12 to 15 minutes. Below is the video, or you can click here to go watch on Lifehacker.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Test #188: Bacon and CAULIFLOWER

The subject
Cauliflower is among the prettiest vegetables. It's also one of the more--how can we put this delicately?--gas-inducing. Seriously, if a person were to eat a whole head of cauliflower at once, about 45 minutes afterward, he could be considered a biological weapon. Happily, the flavor and texture more than make up for the embarrassing side effects (in the opinion of most BDJ Labs staffers, anyway). Eat it with friends, and you're all in the same, potentially poot-filled boat. Just be sure to keep a window open, and stay away from open flames. And if you're having a cauliflower party, you might feel inclined to wrap a bit in bacon--which is just what we did.

The results
Pretty darned good--the cauliflower gave up hardly any of its slightly earthy taste, but took on plenty of bacony flavor throughout. The only downside: in order to crisp-cook the bacon, the whole shebang had to stay in the oven a bit longer than the cauliflower could take, so rather than the crunchy texture that lightly steamed cauli takes on, the veggie was pretty darned wilted. Also, as cooked cauliflower usually does, the nugget coming out of the oven smelled. Kind of like a fart wrapped in bacon. It tasted much better, thank goodness.

The conclusion: Bacon + cauliflower = smells like a winner

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bacon Bit: A Visit from the Bacon Fairy

Good morning, my bacon-loving children! I'm Porcina, the Bacon Fairy, guest-blogging on BDJ today. I just wanted to let you know that while the staff of BDJ Labs is sleeping off their bacontini and bacon Mary hangovers this morning, I'm leaving them a fridge full of delicious, magical bacon, so that they can perform their crazy bacon experiments every day for the next week, at the very least. Isn't that wonderful? La la la. I'm a fairy! La la la.

Happy baconing!

B.F.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Aside of Bacon: Gay-larious Comedy Show!

Like our beloved pork strips, Gayco is salty and delicious. Also like bacon, once you've had a taste of Gayco's unique flavor of comedy, you'll want to nom on it again and again. AAAAH, RUNAWAY METAPHOR!! Anyway, here's a clip that doesn't begin to describe how funny they are. Click here for more info about the show, and to get yourself some damned tickets.

BREAKING BACON: Wendy's Loves BDJ

So you saw that we blogged about Wendy's and global bacon domination earlier today, right? Well, the burger-slinging, bacon-loving broad with the red pigtails saw we sent her some bacon love and sent us some love right back--namely, the fast-food giant used that posting as a tidbit in the Wendy's Twitter-based bacon contest. Which is pretty danged awesome. Almost as awesome as winning the big bacon-lovers prizes Wendy's is doling out (almost). Anyway, here's photographic proof:



Yeah. We know when it's real.

Bacon Bit: Wendy's Bacon Deluxe

After the minor disappointment that was the Third Pound Angus Bacon Burger from a certain fast-food establishment (no names, but it rhymes with Schmick Schmonald's), we decided to try the new Bacon Deluxe from Wendy's. In a word: it's awesome. While we fully acknowledge no sandwich could ever have enough bacon on it to satisfy our appetite for salty pork strips, we do have to admit that this sandwich does better than most in delivering the bacon boom.

Also, we applaud Wendy's for doing better than any other national fast-food chain in furthering the cause of worldwide bacon domination; however, it can't stop at just a couple of sandwiches. We at BDJ Labs humbly submit the following suggestions to help Wendy's in its quest to baconate the universe:
  1. Bacon Frosty: We already know that one of the most delicious combos available through a Wendy's dining experience is dipping one's fries into a Frosty. Take the salty/sweet sensation to the next level by adding crispy bacon bits to the mix.
  2. Bacon-wrapped fries: Before you dunk the potato spears into the fryer, take a few moments to wrap a bacon life preserver around each one.
  3. Bacon bits for the baked potatoes: Total no-brainer
  4. Bacon Tenders: Wendy's has the tastiest chicken nuggets, but imagine how much better they'd be if they were wrapped in bacon before being battered and friend.
  5. Bacon Supermegawesomedeluxe: Just like the current fabulous sandwich, only fabulouser. Chop bits of bacon and add it to the beef before forming the patty. Wrap the patty in bacon before frying. Top the patty with 42 strips of bacon. Melt bacon-cheddar cheese over that. Add french-fried onions that have been cooked in bacon grease. Douse with bacon-ranch dressing. Top with genetically engineered tomatoes that have been cross-bred with the nation's finest Yorkshire hogs to impart them with bacony goodness (see the "tomacco" episode of "The Simpsons" to get an idea of how this would work). Then, instead of a top bun: more bacon.
We were going to tell you about Wendy's Twitter contest to find the nation's biggest bacon lover, but since we want to keep the prize money and not share, we're not telling after all, and instead we cordially invite you to go F yourselves.

Have a bacony day,

BDJ Labs

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bacon Bit: "Bizarre" bacon products

We at BDJ are sick of bacon getting a bad rap. Top Chef winner Richard Blais declared via his Twitter status on Oct 14 that bacon is "overrated." Flippant news commentators refer to H1N1 as "bacon pox." We won't even go into how a certain parent of one BDJ lab staffer uses her Facebook page to deliver motherly grief over the bacon love. No respect.

And then there's food writers like this Kiri Tennenbaum of Delish.com. In her piece, she lists a bunch of bacon-laden products and terms them "bizarre." Slapping such a label on the tantalizing bacony items indicates that for a food writer, she's can't be much of a food adventurer. If she was, she wouldn't think the addition of bacon to ice cream, hot dogs, and other edibles is a mind-blowing concept. Sigh. Don't tell her about Bacon Salt's lip balm, or her head might explode.

The good news: This piece gives exposure to great products like Archie McPhee's bacon gumballs, the Mo's Bacon Bar at Vosges, Das Food's maple-bacon lollipop, and the fabulous-looking bacon ice cream pictured in the article, and above (note McPhee's Mr. Bacon lurking in the background).

We're still steamed about bacon's bad rap. It's not weird, it's not a passing trend, it's a way of LIFE, God dammit. Wake up and smell the salted pork, people!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Test #187: Bacon and THOSE LITTLE BITS OF COCONUT FLOATING AROUND IN A CAN OF AGUA DE COCO

The subject
So agua de coco is (as the kids might say) the shit right now. Popular in Brazil, Panama, and pretty much every other tropical nation, the beverage is catching fire here, thanks to a growing latino market, and the desire of caucasian people to increase their coolness by broadening their flavor palate. Agua de coco is the liquid sloshing around inside a fresh coconut and shouldn't be confused with coconut milk (which is loaded with fat and obtained by smushing the actual coconut meat). If you're lucky enough to live near a decent latino market, you might find a cart vendor that sells fresh-out-of-the-coconut stuff; if not, you can buy in cans like we usually do. If you've never had it, we definitely recommend it--it's sweet but not overpoweringly so, surprisingly light, and provides a nice change of pace from soda (but, at about 80 calories a serving and free from icky corn syrup, much better for you).

One of the nice side benefits of agua de coco: mushy little bits of coconut floating around in the water that sink to the bottom as you drink. Not wanting to waste perfectly good coconut, we fished some out of our glass and wrapped it in bacon.

The results
Just like agua de coco itself, the bacon-wrapped coconut leavings were delightfully different, slightly sweet, and very tasty. If you were to wrap fresh or bagged, flaked coconut in bacon (which we think we might do someday), the end result might be almost overpowering in its sweetness. This, however, was just a wee bit sugary--kind of like bacon filled with low-sugar coconut pudding. Yummy.

The conclusion: Bacon + coconut leavings = Not too shabby

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Test #186: Bacon and HAM

The subject
Ham is a relatively simple food, just like bacon. However--again, just like bacon--even though it consists of just a few ingredients (pork, salt and/or sugar, maybe some spices), the quality of specimens bearing that name can vary widely. On the low end of the spectrum, there's the cheap stuff your mom used to buy for your lunchbox sandwiches every week because it was always on sale, and a brand currently found largely in small neighborhood grocery stores called, we kid you not, "Fud." On the high end, there's the fresh ham we had at Andersonville's sublime Southern-food joint Big Jones, and the Boar's Head stuff found in the deli case. Not sure what those people do to their meats, but it sure is tasty. As Cleveland Jones, deli owner on Fox's The Family Guy, once remarked, "That Boar's Head pretty much sells itself." We bought some at our neighborhood mercado and wrapped it in bacon.

Side note: The legendary Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters are a pro ball team in Japan. The name comes not from any tendency to get combative with salted pork; rather, they're owned by Nippon Ham, one of the country's largest food-processing companies. Still, the team name is one of our all-time favorites--right up there with the Lansing Lugnuts and Toledo Mudhens minor-league outfits.

The results
Was there ever a doubt? When salted pork is coupled with more salted pork, only good things happen. In fact, we foresee gracing our next holiday table with a TurDucKen-like pork-within-pork concoction. Maybe a nice tenderloin stuffed with ham and wrapped with bacon. *drool*

The conclusion: Bacon + ham = all kinds of awesome

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No takin' the bacon!

We at BDJ Labs are big fans of the site Passive Aggressive Notes. Basically, people from all over the world share with PAN readers the annoying missives that their roommates, coworkers, neighbors, and other people use to air their grievances because they're too chickensh!t to speak their minds directly to the offender.

For some reason, bacon seems to be a frequent note subject--PAN recently dedicated an entire day to sharing several bacon-related notes, ranging from these "pig" notes, to notes posted after a rash(er) of bacon thefts, to a note scribbled by a kid worried that his mom would bogart his bacon. Click here for the whole sordid story.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All-bacon pet diet stinks

We at BDJ Labs are all for a daily dose of bacon--but for humans, not other, four-legged critters. Also, no living being should live on only bacon. It's delicious, but it's not exactly chock full of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients we need to live healthy lives. We figure stretching the bacon out over a span of time extends your life and actually lets you consume more bacon in the long run. Hogging it all at once leads to heart disease, diabetes, and extreme fatassedness, and it could bring your bacon-consumption days to a premature end.

We therefore applaud this story of a bacon-stuffed pet skunk, who apparently subsisted on nothing but bacon sandwiches. The poor little bugger was well on his way to an early skunk death when animal control staff rescued him and changed his diet right quick. Yay!, because 1) he'll live to stink up another day, and 2) more bacon for the rest of us.

Fat skunk gives up bacon butties
An overweight skunk from Somerset whose main diet was bacon sandwiches has been re-homed and put on a strict diet.

The owners of Mr Bumble the skunk handed him over to the RSPCA when they realised they could not look after him properly. The creature is now being cared for at the Tropiquaria animal park at Washford Cross, near Watchet. Park owner Chris Noisier said Mr Bumble weighed one stone (6.8kg) and needed to lose 5-6lb (2.2-2.7kg).

'Vegetarian option'
Mr Noisier said: "We're now working on dieting him down to what he should be and clearly bacon butties are not a normal part of a skunk's diet in the wild.

"We're putting him on the vegetarian option at the moment. It's very much like a human weight watching issue. He is getting to meet lots of new people so there's lots going on in his life and I suspect it's making up for the lack of his old favourite food."

In the wild, skunks' natural diet would include carrion, insects, mice and a variety of greenery.
Chris Noisier said Mr Bumble was currently being fed on a vegetable high-fibre, low-energy diet consisting of greens and melon.

Scent glands
He is also taken for two 30-minute walks each day on a lead.

Skunks are native to North America, but have become popular as house pets in the UK. A number of skunks have been abandoned recently since a new law banned the removal of their scent glands. Two vets have examined Mr Bumble and neither can be sure whether he has been de-scented.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Test #185: Bacon and BAC~OS

The subject
Bacon's an excellent salad topper, but unfortunately, some of the health benefits of munching on rabbit food (low fat, low sodium, meatlessness) go out the window when you dump handfuls of salted pork tidbits over your lettuce/veggie concoction. Enter Betty Crocker's Bac~Os, a clever substitute that imparts flavor to any salad without throwing your diet plans under the bus. While we fully admit that they don't taste very bacony, we do like the crispy texture, and the saltiness (although for some reason, they seem to give us nasty burps). Pretty neat for a pile of artificially dyed veggie protein and salt.

However, while we love Bac~Os on our lettuce and in our Mom's Seven-Layer Salad, we've never tried actually cooking these things. Arming ourselves with low expectations, we decided to wrap up a generous spoonful of Bac~Os with actual bonafide bacon and see what the hell happens.

The results
Hell happens--i.e., bacon-wrapped Bac~Os taste like hell. Well, back that up--it's not the taste so much as the texture. The grease doesn't seem to get along with the nearly fat-free vegetable protein hunks, which morph during baking from crispy bits to mushy blobs. Not appealing at all, kids. Save the bacos for the salad, and keep them away from the oven.

The conclusion: Bacon + Bac~Os = a concoction to avoid

Saturday, September 5, 2009

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL BACON DAY!

Today is International Bacon Day--for BDJ Labs, it's the most wonderful time of the year (sorry, Jesus--your birthday's nowhere near as cool).

You don't have to buy a tree, wear a costume, hide eggs, give your current boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/spouse chocolate, or wear green and drink yourself in a stupor to celebrate the momentous occasion. No, sir and/or ma'am. All you have to do is EAT BACON. If you're really committed to celebrating, eat bacon in EVERYTHING. Bacon in your morning pancakes. Drink a Bacon Mary. Have bacon-PBJ sandwiches at lunch. Munch on some of Bleeding Heart Bakery's Chocolate Peanut Butter Bacon cupcakes for a snack. Bacon Explosion for dinner. At night, pop in a Kevin Bacon movie and pop up some Bacony Popcorn (see recipe below). You get the idea. Bacon it up, son.

If you want to go all balls and host a bacon party, click here for some inspiration. This woman had a bacon-themed party at which every guest had to bring "creative bacon"--everything from bacon-wrapped Twinkies to deep-fried bacon. Mmm, baby.

Bacony Popcorn

Ingredients:
4-6 slices of bacon
1/3 C unpopped popcorn kernels
1/4 C butter, melted
Bacon Salt

Special equipment:
Hand-crank, stovetop popcorn maker (you can get 'em at Target and such)

Directions:
Fry the bacon up crisp, then transfer the grease to your popcorn popper. Crumble the bacon up real good and set it aside. Pour the popcorn into the greasy popper and cook/crank until the popping noises pretty much stop. Transfer the popcorn to a bowl. Quickly add in succession the butter, crumbled bacon, and a liberal amount of bacon salt. Eat.




Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Recipe: Bacon-wrapped apricot

Culinary wondercouple Dan and Steve (aka the Hearty Boys) have a delicious story: Despite the fact that neither is a trained chef, they've managed to run one of the city's most beloved catering businesses, open a restaurant (and they're about to open a second), and won much-coveted The Next Food Network Star honors. Their brunch is legendary--in fact, one Sunday a few years ago, their restaurant gave BDJ Labs staff their first taste of maple-glazed bacon.

Their love of bacon endures, apparently--witness the absolutely delectable recipe that landed in the BDJ Labs inbox today--we know what we're having for lunch now.

Bacon-wrapped apricots
24 Turkish dried apricots (brighter color and milder taste than plain ol regular ones)
1 cup white wine
2 fresh thyme sprigs
12 slices bacon, cut in half
Honey Balsamic Glaze, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the apricots into a medium-size saucepan, along with the wine and thyme. Add enough water to just cover and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the apricots and let cool. Discard the sprigs of thyme.

Wrap each apricot in a piece of bacon, secure with a toothpick, and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the top half of the oven until the bacon is crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Drizzle with honey balsamic glaze before serving.

Yield: 24 pieces
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Honey Balsamic Glaze

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all the ingredients, along with 1/4 cup water, in a saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let simmer until reduced by half. The glaze should have a honey-like consistency.

Yield: 3/4 cup
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

BDJ Field Report: McDonalds' Angus Third Pounder

We've been tempted and let down by Angus burgers before. BK's tried the premium cattle matter before, with disasterous results (the flavor reminded us of the sad meatwads we avoided in our high school cafeterias). This particular effort by McDonald's, though, gave us hope--mostly because of the bacon. The dose of salted pork they administer to the burger on TV looks so tempting and plentiful, we couldn't help but harbor positive expectations.

The results: Bacon good. Instead of the flimsy half-strips on the sandwich that Wendy's has the Biggie-size cajones to call "the Baconator", these were full-length planks of BACON (although they don't arrive, as the above pic may seem to imply, still "sizzlin"). The burger: meh. You can tell the good folks at Kuma's Corner they won't be going out of business anytime soon. Instead of perfectly round patties, the 1/3-pounder meatpucks have a sort of scalloped edge to them, as if that's going to impart the image of McD's chefs hand-forming the ground beef in the kitchen with great love and care minutes before the sandwich is served to you. We know the patties arrive via freezer truck in bags of rock-hard ice-meat--stop crappin' us. The burgers themselves taste exactly like quarter pounders--it's the bacon, better-quality pickles, bun, and bacon that dress these babies up. However, no amount of dressing is gonna convince us to pay big bucks on a so-so burger.

So there.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Test #184: Bacon and CUCUMBER

The subject
We at BDJ Labs are huge fans of veggies--the closer to home that they're grown, the better. Nothing against the fine people of Guatemala and Honduras and other Central/South American countries; we just think that the fewer miles a beet or carrot has traveled to get from the dirt to your face, the better it tastes. We've had a great deal of success in our own gardens with some veggies (zucchini and tomatoes), no luck with others ("Um, are these onions? I can't tell without a magnifying glass"), and middling results with others. Cucumbers fall in this middle ground--we've grown them, but while we aim for giant green zepplins, we get stubby little pickles. That's fine--if our little stubs don't satisfy, there's Chicago's Green City Market (runs until Oct. 31), plenty of bodegas, and even Strack & Van Till's fine produce section. We cut up one of the arms-length cucumbers we bought recently and decided to wrap one up with delicious bacon.

By the way, the above pic is Larry the Cucumber, from the excellent VeggieTales series. Never mind that the stars of these 'toons are armless talking Christian vegetables--they're way more charming and funny than disturbing. We at BDJ Labs highly recommend watching the VT flick The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, maybe while munching on a BLT.

The results
Hey, guess what? Cucumbers don't cook up very well. They're great in salads (We'll share a recipe for our favorite cucumber dish below), awesome on sandwiches, and fantabulous by themselves...but baked in bacon? Not so much. We were very glad we cooked some nekkid bacon up next to the cucumber samples--gave us something to cleanse our bewildered palates with.

The conclusion: Bacon + cucumber = eh--you could do better

The recipe: Thai cucumber salad

This is a lot like the cucumbers that your friendly neighborhood Thai place puts out as an appetizer or side to other dishes. Insanely easy, and it goes great with anything--especially bacon.
2T sugar
3/4 C white or rice vinegar
Several dashes chili oil
2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced (peel them or don't--we don't care)
1 medium-size onion, thinly sliced and separated
Salt

Put the first three ingredients in a bowl; mix until sugar is dissolved. Arrange the cukes and onions in a big bowl; shake salt all over and let 'em rest while you go do something fun for a few minutes, like look at pictures of LOLdogs at www.ihasahotdog.com or do a sudoku. Return, then dump the dressing concoction over the veggies. Let rest for an hour, then refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

BREAKING NEWS: BDJ's Back!


We at BDJ Labs are pleased and proud to announce that, after a tragic fire that consumed our entire lab, and all the bacon therein (possibly the best-smelling building blaze ever), we've rebuilt and are back--and, we feel fairly confident in saying--better than EVER. We'll have the same great taste tests, edutaining bacon facts, hilarious videos, sumptuous recipes...just more of everything you love about BDJ.

The next wave of our assault on the world's taste buds begins today. Stay tuned, baconeers...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Aside of Bacon: OMG! MICROPONY!!1!!

BDJ NOTE: This has nothing to do with bacon whatsoever. It's just insanely, undeniably cute.

Short on luck: Meet Koda the miniature horse... who was also born a dwarf


By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:56 PM on 07th August 2009

He is so tiny, visitors often assume he's a stuffed toy.

Standing at 59cm tall, if Koda the horse wants an equal he has to turn to the vetinary cat for company.

The 'American miniature' horse - who suffers the double-whammy of being born a dwarf - has had a bout of health problems caused by his size, but he is now recovering and enjoying the life of a pampered pet.

The cheeky 'American miniature' horse was always meant to be small but at birth vets soon realised he was dinky even for his breed.

'He was no bigger than a cat,' said his vet Andy Lynch. 'He was diagnosed as a dwarf soon after birth.'

Koda's condition is rare and Lynch is amazed that he's still alive and kicking at 13-months-old despite a torrent of health problems.

Brave Koda has had lots of surgery to correct his stumpy, buckled legs but that hasn't helped his peculiar face. His lower jaw juts out and he has bulging eyes, upturned nostrils and a wrinkled nose.

'He had a punky look, a fuzzy forelock and his mane stuck up like a mohawk,' Dr Lynch said.

Koda's poor health prognosis left Dr Lynch with little doubt he should be put down.
But veterinary nurse Karen Stephenson, 23, was astounded by the resilience and spirit of the pint-sized pony.

'I'd never seen a miniature horse and I just thought him amazing,' she said.

'I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him and thought he deserved a go at some good quality life, so I took him on.'

Dr Lynch has performed about £5,000 worth of leg surgery on Koda, but his total vet's bill is expected to top £15,000.

The next step is extensive dentistry to remove protruding adult teeth that won't fit in his little mouth.

He has recovered well from every operation so far.

'He's very brave and takes his medicine like a little man,' said Dr Lynch.

'He's everyone's friend but he's also got a very naughty streak and he'll chew just about anything,' he added.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A product we can believe in

Yes, the video is covering the Yelp box. No, we can't fix it. Yes, we'd rather look at the painfully handsome Jon Hamm anyway.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

We'll be back

The folks at Bacon Du Jour would like to apologize for the sporadic posting up in here. Seems we're all insanely busy with our high-paying regular jobs (unfortunately, bacon testing isn't as lucrative as you'd think, so we have to earn our living in other areas), and haven't been able to gather for testing. Rest assured, we will be heading into the kitchen again soon--this weekend, in fact--so hold onto your bacon bits for some phenomenal BDJ goodness.

This bacon wrap, by the way, is a lovely crocheted item we found over at Monster Crochet. You can click that there link, or the gorgeous photo, to get a closer look at the masterpiece.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

These cards mean business

Time to order business cards? You might want to hold of placing that order with Vista Print. While those freebies might be tempting, they don't offer the panache and excitement of MeatCards. Rather than printing on yawn-inducing paper, these lovelies print on...well, let's let the fine people at MeatCards explain the phenomenon to you:

"We start with 100% beef jerky, and SEAR your contact information into it with a 150 WATT CO2 LASER.

Screw die-cutting. Forget about foil, popups, or UV spot lamination. THESE business cards have two ingredients:
MEAT AND LASERS.

Unlike other business cards, MEAT CARDS will retain value after the econopocalypse. Hoard and barter your calorie-rich, life-sustaining cards.

MEAT CARDS do not fit in a Rolodex, because their deliciousness CANNOT BE CONTAINED in a Rolodex."

We at BDJ Labs will be placing our orders shortly, as soon as we stop salivating from the pics.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Makin' bacon: Stepping up our game

The couple in this picture are Amy and Tom Ifft, and they are magicians. They take humble little pink blobs like the adorable ones they're holding in this picture and--through conscientious feeding practices and loving care at their farm, Twin Oak--transform them into magnificently delicious meat.

What's the difference between the styrofoam-backed meats lined up in orderly rows at Da Jewels, and the less-polished, more-pricey cuts offered by family farmers like the Iffts? In a word: HUGE. That extra effort and expense leads to a vast difference in the meat's flavor, texture, and healthfulness--so much so, that if you procure their goods from Twin Oak Meats or corner butchers like Paulina Meat Market, you might never visit the mass-market meat mounds again.

For obvious reasons, BDJ Labs is turning to Twin Oak Meats as the pork-belly source for our next bacon-making effort. This week, we're placing an order and hopefully, good Lord willin', we'll pick up a pretty portion of pork from their booth at Chicago's Green City Market Saturday morning. We can hardly wait.

Friday, July 31, 2009

But pepper is GOOD with bacon...

Store guard avoids pepper spraying in nabbing alleged bacon thieves

From The Capital Times--click here for the original story
July 31, 2009

MADISON, Wisc.--Two alleged shoplifters pilfered bacon, sausage, makeup and magazines from Woodman's Food Market on the southwest side Thursday and tried to get away by attempting to use pepper spray on a security guard before being arrested, Madison police reported.

Kimberly Hutchins, 30, and a 16-year-old female, both of Madison, were arrested following the attempted shoplifting at about 12:45 p.m. at the supermarket at 711 S. Gammon Road.

Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the security officer approached the two when they left the store.

"The older of the two (Hutchins) pulled out a can of pepper spray which was marked 'for law enforcement only,' and pointed it at the officer," DeSpain said. "He was able to knock the can out of her hand and put her in handcuffs."

Police located the other suspect and arrested both.

"Inside their purses were a number of items for which they had not paid, including cosmetics, magazines, bacon and sausage," DeSpain said.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aside of Bacon: Folsom Pwison Bwues

Little Wesley here is a student at Heartwood Guitar, a music school in Washington. Listen to the mournful singing, even though I'm pretty sure the kid's never been to prison (unless Folsom has a kindergarten block I don't know about.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Road Rasher: Top Chef slings bacon, beer

Note: Head BDJ Lab Tech Jenni S. was lucky enough to score a spot at the first Wandering Goat, a traveling backyard dinner bash thrown by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard. Here's her report...

God bless Twitter--I've scored more free stuff in the past couple of weeks from that site/service/whatever the F you want to call it than you could shake a stick at. Bacon soap from Archie McPhee, Lyle Lovett tickets from Ravinia, and--thanks to a Twitter-based contest--tickets to a swingin' backyard culinary bash. The host: Top Chef champ and Chicago native Stephanie Izard. The purpose: Izard's gearing up for the opening of her Drunken Goat restaurant a few months down the road. The crowd: veteran food journos like Steve Dolinsky (aka ABC-7's "Hungry Hound" guy), restaurant marketing whiz Ellen Malloy of the Restaurant Intelligence Agency, and scores of hungry food fans like me.

Holy crap, the food was great. I'm a horrible blogger, because I was more concerned with stuffing my face and imbibing mass quantities of Three Floyds' excellent Gumballhead wheat ale, than I was about marking down details regarding the food I was wolfing down. Here's what I ate, to the best of my now-cloudy memory:
* This grilled octopus dish, with pineapple and some other stuff sprinkled on it (pancetta, I think): awesome
* Little triangles of polenta, with wee slivers of radish, creamy sauce stuff, and tangy berries on the side: fabulous
* Cute little biscuit rounds with smoked BBQ pork and slaw on top: brilliant
* Oysters with some other stuff on the half shell: yum
* Calamari stuffed with lamb: OH MY GOD--I think i had three servings of this one
* Hunks of fried bread with some meat or other on top: never got to it because I was so apeshit about the calamari

Inside, Wandering Goaters were treated to a trio of divine gelatos: banana curry, lemon ginger and roasted red pepper. I marveled at all three, but the banana curry had me going back for seconds, despite the fact that my fullness level was already at the pants-bursting point.

Ms. Izard didn't just walk around schmoozing--she spent most of the evening working shoulder to shoulder with her prep staff in cooking and plating the dishes. However, she did take a break to grab a beer and tell me she's already hard at work on the menu for next month's menu. While she's tight-lipped about the specific dishes, she did share the star ingredient that will dominate the dishes: BACON. Come hell or high water, I will be there--and next time, I'll take better notes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Road Rasher: Bacon at Pierogi Fest

The intrepid baconeers at BDJ Labs set out to Whiting, Ind., for the annual Pierogi Fest. If you've never been, mark your calendars for 2010--it's a modest affair but packed with fun and food, centering on (what else?) the marvelous Polish invention called the pierogi--a hearty dough filled wtih potato, cheese, mushroom, meat, sauerkraut, and tons of other fillings. In our hometown of Chicago, pierogi are accompanied by a number of condiments--sour cream, applesauce, onions and (our favorite) little bits of crispy bacon. We entered the Pierogi Fest fairgrounds in hopeful search of bacon bits.

We were disappointed. Many booths offered sour cream alongside their little Polish ravioli. A precious few put out applesauce as well. However, not a single booth sprinkled their wares with bacon bits. We would have cried, were it not for the delightfully named "bacon buns" at one booth. The doughy balls filled with crumbled bacon, brushed with butter and baked to golden brown were delicious, and they helped at least partially satisfy our never-ending hunger for bacon.

Still, after one bacon bun, we found we needed more meat. We had "chevops" (aka cevapcici, or myrad other spellings), a wondrous Serbian sausage that has every animal in the world stuffed into it. They look modest, like shriveled little Brown 'n Serves, but they taste like meat paradise.

We'll definitely be back next year. We might, however, bring our own side of bacon.