I'm generally of the school of thought that a little bacon on anything makes it better. I must admit, however, that I was wary of bacon in desserts, until I had a bite of a gourmet chocolate bar flecked with bits of thick-cut bacon. It worked. It more than worked; it was a beautiful pork-tinged chocolate euphoria. There was something revolutionary about that sweet and savory combination, and it convinced me that bacon desserts were totally doable.
The bacon chocolate bar brought me back to the first time I dipped bacon in maple syrup. That got me thinking about making a bacon dessert incorporating maple syrup. I'll slurp maple syrup straight up from a spoon, so I entered this endeavor with enthusiasm. The result turned out to be an overwhelming crowd-pleaser: Bac'an Pie, a pecan pie with bacon and a healthy dose of bourbon. Bourbon seemed a natural pairing for rich, smoky flavors like bacon and maple syrup.
This holiday season, consider a little bacon with your pie. It's true - it makes it better.
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Bourbon Bac'an Pie
4-5 slices of bacon, slightly undercooked and chopped; reserve bacon grease
1-1/2 cups pecans
1/2 cup maple syrup, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
2 tablespoons warm bacon grease
Cook bacon in skillet until slightly underdone. Chop into small pieces and set aside. Drain bacon fat and reserve 2 tablespoons to use in the crust.
In the same pan, add pecans, bacon pieces and maple syrup. Heat over medium until toasted and slightly candied (3-5 minutes). Stir constantly to keep from burning.
In a bowl, beat eggs and other liquid components. Stir in bacon and pecans. Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is firm. Halfway through, brush with equal parts maple syrup and bourbon.
1-1/4 cups flour
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed
2 tablespoons chilled reserved bacon grease
3 tablespoons ice water
Put flour in a bowl. Add butter and bacon grease and mix with hands until crumbly and fat is well distributed. Slowly mix in water. Do not overwork. Shape dough into a small disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll out dough between sheets of wax paper - should be about 1/8-inch thick. Carefully lift off wax paper and place into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp edges and add filling.