By Michael McDearman, Tennessee Delta ’97
What You’ll Need:
- 1 lb of your favorite bacon
- Brown sugar
- Your favorite BBQ rub
- 2 disposable half pans or 2 foil wrapped cookie sheets
Grillmaster McD’s Tips, Tricks and Techniques
Pig Candy is a delicacy for those who enjoy a richness with multiple points on your tongue being teased and satisfied. Like many dishes, you can cook it to your preferred crispness and the time depends on your smoker, grill, or oven.
Take a pound of thick and center cut bacon that is pretty meaty. This is a personal preference, but today, I am using Rice’s salt and sugar cured, a middle Tennessee smokehouse that produces some fantastic country ham and other pig products.
The goal is to have many flavor profiles happen in your mouth. This recipe will be salty from the bacon and possibly the BBQ rub that you choose, sweet from the brown sugar (possibly the BBQ rub as well and also the bacon can be sugar cured), and heat can come from the BBQ rub as well as some herbs from the rub. Think about that, four different flavors are going to mix together (possibly more depending on your rub) and that means that you will eat with your eyes, then your nose and then your mouth. YUM. Each chew will reveal another layer of flavor. Surprise and delight…
Cut your pound of bacon down the middle. I know this is a shocking statement, but trust is needed here. The candy side of it will take you over like it did to me this morning when I cooked a half pound and ate it all! Plus, you can manage the pieces in the half pan more easily. Wrap up whatever you are not cooking and store it in the fridge.
Grab a half pan or cookie sheet. If disposable half pans, put the seasoned bacon on in. If using cookie sheets wrapped in foil (easier clean up), wrap one cookie sheet (with edges so it holds the grease in the pan) with foil so the top side is covered and wrap another identical sheet with foil on the bottom. We will set the second sheet on top during the cooking process to keep the bacon from twisting and wrinkling up. Plus this helps with splatter.
Sprinkle rub pretty heavily (depending on your taste preference) on each side of the bacon and place in the half pan. The bacon will shrink so having it touch sides is not a problem, but overlapping can cause two pieces to attach. Try and keep them side by side. Take the brown sugar and place a light coat over the top of the bacon. I have found that you can put sugar on both sides or just one. If you choose just one, the salty flavor might come through quicker in your mouth if you have the un-sugared side down when you take a bite (hits your tongue first). The sugar will also turn into a glaze or syrup in the cooking process, so it will find its way underneath the bacon, either way.
You want to be cooking at about 400-425 depending on your cooker. I preheat. Just like an oven with cookies in it, you have some spots that are warmer than others. Knowing your own cooker is key here. Great thermometers are available for a relatively small price. Cook the bacon to your preferred doneness. You are dealing with sugar here so be careful. You want it to be bubbly and not burnt or scorched. If it is, it turns bitter. Brown sugar is white sugar and molasses mixed. The burn temp on them is irrelevant. On longer cooking items, we look at those type of things (Boston Butts, ribs, etc), but this is candied and quicker.
And like on the news…AAaannnd we’re back. Once your bacon is done to your liking, remove from the cooker and place it on a cooling rack or a piece of foil. You may need to remove the top pan to let some of the steam escape from your bacon. If you find that this is needed in your cooker, simply place a light piece of foil loosely over your pan to limit splatters. When cooling, DO NOT place on paper towels as your candy will solidify and attach itself to the paper. It wouldn’t be pretty or tasty.
Once your pig candy is cool, enjoy!
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