Yes, bacon pineapple upside down cake. It’s really, really good. I got the idea for this from last year’s Food Network bacon magazine. I deviated from their cake recipe and made a butter cake and also did not mix bacon bits in the batter like it suggested. The pineapple bacon effect is so easy to create just butter your pan, apply a single layer of brown sugar, put down your pineapple rings, and fill the non-pineapple space with homemade bacon bits. It’s that simple. It’s that good.
Every year around the holidays I try out new ways to utilize leftovers. Sometimes I get really fancy and sometimes I find small variations on classics such as soup or sandwiches. This year, my favorite leftover dish by far was this potato pancake. It’s super simple. All one has to do to make this dish is mix some bacon and diced gouda with mashed potatoes, coat with flour, and pan fry with oil. Top your pancake with a poached or fried egg because you can and that’s it! Leftover magic.
After eating these “western” style bacon cheeseburgers that I started making almost a year ago, I cannot eat similar burgers from fast food or other common restaurants. I’m not kidding, I will not eat mediocre or even relatively decent burgers with bacon, onion rings, and BBQ sauce as snobby as that sounds. Doing so is heart-wrenching because I know how good such a burger could be and I want the one that I make at home although I’m not always up for doing the work.
To make this burger you’ll need to make a Bacon Weave and Holy Onion Rings. I’ve actually deep fried my bacon weave a few times since the fryer was already going. The bacon weave doesn’t come out as pretty but it works. I strongly recommend making the Holy Onion Rings. If that is not possible you could buy onion rings from the freezer section at your local grocery store and crisp them up in the oven or toaster oven but this will give you a burger that is only really good as opposed to a knock-your-socks-off-too-good-for-words-I’m-just-going-to-keep-eating, burger. The choice is yours. Finally, I am a really big fan of using telera rolls for burgers and I will tell you why. Mainly, I love these rolls because of their chewy (but not too chewy) crust and their really soft center. I also love a round roll because I can remove a little bit of the bread from the top and create some room for the burger toppings. If you cannot find telera rolls in your area (try finding a Mexican market if you cannot find them in your regular market) then my next choice would be a kaiser roll.
When I assemble my burger, I put some BBQ sauce (I really like Sweet Baby Ray’s brown sugar BBQ sauce for this) on the bottom piece of bread. Then I add my burger that has melted mild cheddar (processed cheese is sometimes comforting and nostalgic for me but it has no place in this burger). Next, my bacon weave goes down and the onion rings are on top of that followed by some more BBQ sauce. On the top bun, I put I light layer of mayo and a little bit of red and black pepper but that is purely optional. This burger is a little time intensive to make but it is beyond worth it.
Bacon weaves are so awesome and have become more and more popular recently. Bacon weaves are great for BLTs, burgers, or any sandwich really. You could even wrap a bacon weave around meatloaf or a pork tenderloin (just make sure the ends are well tucked in, otherwise, they curl up). I’ve cut a larger bacon weave into small squares to accompany a jalapeño tomato soup almost like crackers would. Of course you could make a bacon bowl by using an upside down oven or microwave safe bowl and placing the weave over it. I’m not a huge fan of bacon bowls because I feel like they are more for show than anything else but to each her own I guess.
The stage is set… in the left corner we have a medium to thick cut maple-cured slice of bacon… in the right corner we have a medium to thin cut uncured slice of bacon (I took bites out of each corner, my bad)… who will win this epic showdown?
We recently got a shit ton of two different kinds of amazing bacon from Gar’s stepdad who is the head chef at a well-known country club. Before cooking each type of bacon (in different pans of course), I thought for sure I would like the maple-cured bacon better. It turns out, however, that I declare the uncured slice of bacon as the hands-down winner. Let me tell you why.
The reason I love a nice, fully-cooked (meaning no flabby fat), chewy-and-crunchy-but-not-too-crunchy slice of bacon is because of the salty pork flavor and the subtle sweetness of the bacon fat. Don’t get me wrong, the maple-cured bacon was great and had a wonderful hint of maple and carmelization after it was cooked… BUT… the sweetness of the maple completely overpowered the natural, subtle sweetness of the bacon fat for me. Therefore, uncured bacon wins!
Ground bacon is excellent, especially in burgers. I am lucky to have Ventura County Meat Co. nearby because they specialize in local, grass-fed, sustainable meats and they always have great stuff including ground bacon. Last year I got and cooked a kick-ass, thick-cut bison ribeye from them for my birthday and it was amazing… the best bison I have had to date. If you want ground bacon and don’t have a meat grinder, ask your butcher to grind it for you. The guy at my local grocery store is very accommodating and always slices my london broil for jerky for me.
Back to the bacon. I know some burger joints out there do burgers that are half ground bacon and half ground beef. I am a huge bacon fan but I prefer to make a bacon burger that is not so rich but still quite bacony (trust me) and consists of 1/3 ground bacon and 2/3 ground beef. A few tips… If you are grilling your burger, do so on a low heat. You don’t want lots of fire and burnt burgers as some of the fat cooks off. Also, I like using a sharp cheddar on bacon burgers because it stands up to the bacon better. Finally, do not mess with your burger too much while its cooking. I think this rule goes with any burger but it especially applies to bacon burgers. These burgers kind of want to fall apart a little so you should wait until one side is cooked well and nice and firm until you flip them. I always try to only flip my burgers once. I ate this burger simply with ketchup and mustard on a freshly baked ciabatta roll. It was simple, sweet, salty, smoky, cheesy goodness.