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April 22, 2009

How to Make (Fill in Blank) Taste Better? Add Bacon!


Here is an old, yet reliable trick that will make anything taste better – add bacon.


Salad of greens? Add bacon. Cheeseburger? Add bacon. Frying pan of crisped bacon? Add bacon. Hot fudge sundae? Well, you get my point.


And my point is that in a world where bacon is no longer allowed to exist, the living would envy the dead. Bacon understands this and embraces it, because that’s how bacon rolls – large and in charge.


There is another admirable quality about bacon. If you shape it in a way that it retains its shape through the cooking process, it will stiffen into that shape until consumed. If you, say, wanted to construct a garden gnome out of a foodstuff, you could do so with bacon, although you would be advised to not actually place a garden gnome constructed entirely of cooked bacon outside. Real gnomes would come from their earthen burrows and eat it (in fact, this is believed to be the centerpiece cause of The Peoria Incident of 1952).


While this may not be so useful in constructing yard ornaments, it has real utility when you want to apply bacon in one of its most revered ways – wrapping it around something else. This is a rare treasure if you did it with cheese and vegetables, but consider the heart-healthy potential of wrapping bacon around another meat.


Some might consider this to be a natural combination when the other meat is the blandest of the major meat groups – the chicken breast, which by itself is nearly as exciting to eat as it is to look at. But, for the juicy, succulent breast, there is the robust, flavorful chicken thigh. It might not be readily apparent that the strong flavors of the thigh and bacon would work well together. Then, you remember what we first learned here – everything is made better by bacon.


Debone the thighs and marinate them for a few hours in a combination of maple syrup and Dijon mustard. The mustard is a no-brainer, but what about syrup? It is a breakfast companion, something that will remind bacon where it traditionally comes from.


After a couple of hours, prepare by either turning on an oven or starting the grill. The oven should be set to a relatively low temperature so that the chicken can cook thoroughly while not turning the bacon into cinders. Preheat to 375 degrees. If you plan to grill, you will grill over indirect heat for the same reasons.


Remove the chicken thighs from their marinade and carefully wrap the bacon around them. If you let them stand unattended, the sound you hear will be the sound of bacon and chicken sizing each other up. Depending on the size of the bacon, you may need more than one slice for each thigh. Hold in place with toothpicks.


Cook for about 20 minutes into the oven. If grilling, try a few minutes on each side directly over the heat source, before moving it out of the way.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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