EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - If you’re still finalizing your holiday menu, you might consider adding an American favorite on the menu - bacon.
We’re continuing holiday countdown to Christmas with 11 recipes starring bacon. Bacon can be a great addition to a holiday breakfast or in a side dish accompanying dinner.
Here are 11 ideas for how to work this flavorful meat onto your Christmas menu.
Your oven is only so big. It makes preparing Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner a challenge sometimes. Here is one solution: make your sweet potatoes in a slow-cooker.
4 pounds of sweet potatoes (smaller ones are preferred, as they're less stringy) 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate 3 TBS butter, cut into small cubes 3 TBS brown sugar 1/2 tsp dried sage 1 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup glazed pecans (store-bought, optional)
- Slice peeled sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Place in slow cooker.
- In a small bowl, stir together orange juice concentrate (thawed), brown sugar, salt, and sage. Pour over potatoes. Dot with butter cubes. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, or on high for 2 /12 to 3 hours.
- When ready to serve, gently stir to coat all potatoes with the orange juice mixture, pour into serving dish, and sprinkle with crumbled bacon and glazed pecans. For garnish, top with some fresh sage leaves, if available.
If you want to make your own glazed pecans (which are fabulous and easy to make), here's how I did it:
- One cup of pecan halves 1 1/2 TBS brown sugar (dark or light) 1/8 tsp vanilla 1/8 tsp salt 1 1/2 tsp water
- sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
- First, combine everything except pecans and cinnamon in a small bowl. Whisk together until combined. Set aside.
- Place pecans in a skillet, and place over medium heat. Stay there...don't let them burn! Use a spatula to gently toss the pecans until all are warmed and you begin to smell the fragrance of the nuts.
- Immediately pour the sugar mixture over the nuts, and, still over heat, stir the pecans to ensure all are coated, then immediately remove from heat.
- Spread pecans in a single layer on a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with cinnamon, and allow to cool completely and harden.
- Finally, break apart with your hands, and store any leftovers in a airtight storage bag or container.
If you need a salad to complete your dinner spread, consider this BLT salad with toasted French bread croutons. It complements any meal and doesn’t skimp on the flavor.
1/2 loaf crusty French bread, sliced olive oil garlic powder, mixed greens (lettuce, spinach, etc.) tomatoes (chopped if large, sliced in half in grape or cherry tomatoes) 4 slices bacon, pan fried, drained and crumbled 4 ounces white cheese, like fresh mozzarella, provolone, Swiss, Gouda, or chevre Ranch dressing (made with seasoning packet, Dukes mayonnaise, and milk)
- Preheat oven to 250. Place sliced bread on a baking sheet, and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Toast in the 250 oven until crisp, but don’t allow to get dark. When cool, chop into 1″ cubes. Set aside.
- Combine greens and tomatoes; toss. drizzle with the dressing and toss well again.
- Sprinkle salad with bacon pieces, cheese, and toasted croutons, as well as salt and pepper, if desired.
Many southern families will have some variation of greens for the holidays. This particular recipe from Mama Steph features smoked bacon.
This recipe calls for:
- Olive oil
- smoked ham
- smoked bacon
- greens (collard or turnip, whichever you prefer)
- chicken broth
- salt (optional)
- sugar (optional)
- pepper flakes
- red wine vinegar
Heat stove and put olive oil in Dutch oven, then add smoked bacon, smoked ham, onions and garlic. Stir to build delicious smoky flavor. If you want a little heat, add teaspoon of pepper flakes.
Add greens and add vinegar. Add quart of chicken broth and start pressing down the greens. You may not get all two pounds in at once because they're so bulky, but they do cook down and you'll be able to come back in with more greens and some more broth if needed.
come back in with more greens and some more broth
Stir occasionally. Cook for two hours or so, depends on how you want them. Add a little salt for seasoning if needed and sugar to cut the bitterness if needed.
Serve with cornbread.
Here’s a nice, comforting meal for chilly days in fall and winter. It’s especially nice when you have leftover sweet potatoes and turkey from holiday cooking. Just add bacon.
6 to 8 ounces of sliced smoked bacon, chopped into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces 1 large shallot or a medium onion, chopped 1/2 cup chopped celery 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cooked turkey or chicken meat, chopped into bite sized pieces 1/2 cup cream 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used a smoked cheddar, but any will work) 1 medium raw sweet potato, cubed (about 2 cups) 2 quarts turkey stock or chicken stock 1 tsp dried parsley 1 tsp dried thyme (optional)
- In a soup pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until slightly crisp. Remove a tablespoon or so of the bacon and set aside for topping purposes.
- Add the celery and shallot or onion to the pot, and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
- Add the broth, cream, and cheese, and stir until cheese is melted.
- Add the sweet potatoes, turkey and dried herbs
- Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.
This pasta salad is a nice change from the traditional side dishes you’d find gracing the dinner table on Christmas. Instead of a vinaigrette dressing, it uses creamy ranch dressing, and to add some crunch, there are chopped peppers and crumbled bacon. The result is a salad you’ll likely get asked to make again.
1 pound of cooked and drained rotini pasta (tri-color is fun, but regular is fine, too) 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped 1 small onion, diced (optional) 16 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved 2 ounce can sliced black olives, drained 4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled 1 cup grated cheddar cheese 1 cup prepared Ranch dressing (fat-free will work, but it will be more sour than regular Ranch dressing)
In a large bowl, combine the pasta, vegetables, olives, bacon and cheese. Toss. Drizzle the Ranch dressing over the ingredients, and fold it in until all ingredients are coated. You might want to start with 3/4 cup dressing, and if you’d like more moisture, add the other 1/4 cup. It’s truly a matter of personal preference.
Here’s another pasta salad that can be served as a non-traditional side dish.
- 6 ounces bacon
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth 8 ounces pasta
- 3 to 4 cups fresh greens (spinach, arugula, kale, etc.)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Cut bacon into one inch pieces, then saute in skillet until crisp. Remove from pan into a bowl.
- Add the onion to the fat in the pan, and saute until translucent, scraping the bottom of the pan as you saute.
- Add the broth to the pan, and then add the pasta. Cover, and bring to a boil.
- Stir well when broth reaches boiling point, then turn heat to low, and cover. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally to loosen any stuck pasta.
- Cook for about ten minutes (guided by type of pasta, and what its box directions say) 6. Uncover and add the fresh greens. Stir and allow the greens to wilt. Remove from heat. Add the red pepper flakes, bacon and Parmesan, then stir to distribute.
Robbie Shoults of Bear Creek Smokehouse in Marshall is sharing a family recipe with us: Aunt Nettie’s decadent macaroni and cheese. The bacon is optional in this dish, but trust us, don’t skip the bacon.
One pound elbow macaroni One pound Velveeta cheese 1 can cheddar cheese soup 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup diced smoked ham 2 sticks butter 1 can of Pet milk (evaporated) 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
optional: chopped smoked ham and/or crumbled bacon (precooked)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni pasta according to package directions, and then drain. Return to pot, and then add velveeta, cheddar cheese, soup, ham and butter. Mix well, then pour into a baking dish. Crush the Ritz crackers, then sprinkle them over the top of the dish. Bake untopped for 30 minutes.
Topping: melt a stick of butter, pour over crushed crackers. Serve warm.
When most people think bacon, they also think of breakfast. While the recipes above show that bacon doesn’t have to be limited to the breakfast spread, it does make a pretty taste snack in the morning. Here are a few recipes in which bacon shines that also can be made ahead so that you don’t have to worry about cooking on Christmas morning.
- one loaf stale French bread, cut into cubes
- 1 cup blackberry jam, warmed to pourable consistency
- 4 to 6 slices of pan-fried maple bacon, crumbled
- 8 oz block light cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 tsp each vanilla extract and cinnamon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
Place half of bread crumbs in bottom of Pam-sprayed 9x13" casserole dish. Sprinkle blackberry jam over the bread. Drop in the cubes of cream cheese, spreading across bread evenly. Top with bacon pieces Add remaining bread cubes.
Combine eggs, half and half, vanilla and cinnamon until well mixed. Pour over bread. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight, or at least 6 hours. Uncover and bake 30 to 40 minutes (watch for middle to no longer feel wet, and top to be golden brown. If browning too quickly, cover with foil while finishing in oven.)
Here’s another good breakfast option that includes bacon and is easily made the day of. Bonus, this scramble has avocado.
- 2 eggs
- 3 slices chopped bacon
- 1/2 Roma tomato diced
- Salt pepper to taste
- Fine cut small green onion-1
- 1 tablespoon cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/4 diced avocado in the scrambler
- 1 slicer on top
- Spray pan with non stick spray
- Heat skillet on stove top
- Toss in chopped bacon until it begins to sizzle
- Add in the green onions and tomatoes
- Let heat approx 20 seconds more
- Add in eggs and salt and pepper
- Stir eggs in a figure 8 motion to keep them fluffy until there almost set
- Add in your diced avocado and shredded cheese
- Finish cooking eggs and put on a plate
- Top with slicer of avocado
Here’s a splendidly simple and delicious recipe from Chef Christoph Stockhammer, owner of 4-Way Cafe in Flint.
Quiche: 1 refrigerated 9 inch pie shell 2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced thinly 5 slices applewood smoked bacon, chopped 1 medium red onion, sliced thin 6 eggs 1 cup milk 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup of parmesan cheese 1 pinch of basil 1 pinch of granulated garlic Salt and pepper
Pie Shell: 4 cups of flour 2 sticks butter ½ cup of cold water Dash of salt Dash of sugar Mix well ; add more water for consistency if needed Makes 2 9-inch pie crusts
- Place pie crust in pie pan, and prebake it for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Cook chopped bacon and red onion until caramelized in frying pan, and place in a separate dish.
- Mix eggs, milk, cheeses, and seasonings in mixing bowl. (Note: pie crust does not have to be browned, only a little hardened).
- Place the sliced tomatoes on top, one by one, all around until the top is covered.
- Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until knife inserted is ‘clean’.
Chef Ben Carter, owner of Buttermilk’s in Canton, has a great recipe that includes bacon. These scones would be perfect for breakfast or brunch.
Scones: 2 ½ Cups flour 1/3 Cups sugar 1 Tbsp. baking powder 2 Sticks unsalted butter 2/3 Cups Buttermilk 1 Tsp vanilla 1 Tsp maple extract ½ Tsp Salt
Streusel: 1/2 Cup Crumbled Bacon 1/3 Cup Dark Brown Sugar Packed 2 Tbsp. Flour ½ Tsp Cinnamon 2 Tbsp. Butter
Directions: Mix dry ingredients, then cut cold butter into flour mixture Mix well, buttermilk, vanilla, maple, and stir into flour mixture Gently mix streusel together by hand until crumbly, fold in mix Lightly dust working surface, and roll out dough into a 9 inch circle and cut 8 slices out. Lay on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 13 min
1 Tsp vanilla 1 Tbsp. maple syrup 1 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
Directions: Melt butter and add all ingredients. Whisk till smooth, spoon over scones. Enjoy!