When we found out about a National Bacon Day, some of us fell into a near fugue state. Finally--a nation fixed on celebrating, oh, labor and presidents and fat elves and the greeting card/chocolates industry found something worthwhile to honor.
No need to rhapsodize about bacon. Nature's most perfect food translates into almost any culinary language (speck, pancetta, Canadian) and takes to just about any form of curing, from air dried to applewood smoked. Fans can join bacon of the month clubs or the Royal Bacon Society. There's even turkey bacon for those not allowed to eat the real stuff.
And the federal bacon holiday? Well, unfortunately it falls on Saturday this year. As celebrity spokesperson and hog meat advocate Homer Simpson says, "mmm..."--eh, you've heard it a thousand times.
So, drawing on the best bacon-related dishes served in Dallas restaurants, we present the top 10 ways bacon makes any dish better. You can...
10. Wrap it around something otherwise useless
Baja chicken, Mattito's
Chicken fried steak is nothing without a pool of thick gravy. Most restaurants, though, ladle on a pasty white version offering little more than pepper to break the monotony. At Central 214, the kitchen looks to bitter and fatty elements--the red-eye part--then fleshes it out with the richer, more concentrated flavor of streaky pork belly. This, on top of a chicken fried steak, is like...well, it's better than the steak itself. No way a Bechamel or Hollandaise can make the same claims.
3. Really dress a burger
Stodg burger, The Porch
There are fancy burgers everywhere, dressed with everything from avocado to wilted kale. As long as you add the name of a farm, you've got yourself an upscale masterpiece...as long as you add bacon. Diners are on to obvious ploys. Bacon makes it acceptable, turning Kobe with wasabi infused green tea aoili, for example, into just an everyday extravagance. At The Porch, they layer on aged cheddar, a fried egg and foie gras--then tone the beast down with applewood smoked bacon. A great American burger.
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2. Chicken fry it
Chicken fried bacon, Hattie's
Vendors who served this at last year's state fair did not treat bacon with the respect it deserves. There's more to it than just coating strips in batter and dunking them into a vat of hot oil...at least we think so. Surely this dish needs the attentive hand of an Escoffier. At Hattie's they understand the heart-stopping richness implied by words such as 'deep frying' and 'crispy.' The great French chef would be proud.
1. Just enjoy it as it is
Honey pepper bacon, Two Rows
Sure, they put this bittersweet-smoky-spicy slice(s) of heaven on burgers and other sandwiches. But they also sell it by weight, so you can rush home and fry up a few pounds. You don't need anything else to make a perfect Saturday, 'cept maybe a good single malt and a game on TV.