Amazing Mother’s Day Bacon Appetizers

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Mother’s day is coming up! (May 12th this year!)

This is my darlin’s favorite appetizer and a staple of her Mother’s Day dinner.

Quick and easy to make, delicious, and a chance to fire up the grill! (Tho’ you can make them just as well in the oven.)

Sure to delight, this is an always-win recipe to make Mom feel special on her special day!

Bacon Wrapped Dates

 

If your girl a salmon-fan?

This bacon-wrapped salmon appetizers are always a hit. A couple of these make a perfect appetizer, or serve four of these nuggets of goodness over rice, for a lovely entree!

Bacon Wrapped Salmon Bites

Make sure to subscribe to this page, as we’ll be covering the perfect Mother’s Day menu, from the best breakfasts to dazzle-her desserts and everything in between, over the next few weeks!

~Chef Perry

Bacon: A Home Chef's Guidebook

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My Most Popular Appetizer: Dragon Claws

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Baby bell peppers stuffed with a combination of hot (or sweet) Italian sausage, beer brats, or even ground beef, turkey, or chorizo. Wrapped in bacon, grilled to perfection, then glazed with your favorite barbecue sauce! (I like Sweet Baby Rays, thinned with a little apple cider vinegar.)

Dragon Claws at RibfestThis is one of my signature recipes, and it never fails to rock my customer’s worlds! I had great fun preparing these at the Kenmore booth at the 2013 Ribfest in Chicago, as a Sears’s Grilling in Happiness blogger , with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition superstar Ty Pennington (who is an awesome, funny, crazy guy, btw!)

Sticky sweet, spicy goodness…with just a breath of fire! And…trust me on this, MUCH easier to make when there isn’t a live audience and 3 television cameras in your face!

Even so, it’s totally worth it!

Oh, sooo good…

Dragon Claw BBQ AppetizerChef Perry’s Dragon Claws

  • 24 whole baby bell peppers
  • 12 slices (thin sliced) bacon
  • 1 lb. Johnsonville Beer Brats

Glaze

  • 1 cup Sweet BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted

Slice the tops off each baby bell, and remove the seeds and veins from each pepper, and rinse again.

Mix glaze ingredients over medium low heat, and keep warm.

Remove the meat from casings (if using bratwurst).

Stuff each pepper with sausage, and packing it tightly.

Drgaon Claws grilled peppersWrap each pepper with 1/2 slice of bacon, and secure with a pre-soaked toothpick, or pre-soaked skewers.

Repeat with all remaining peppers.




Fire up your grill and prepare for indirect cooking over medium-high heat. About 25 briquettes in a Weber Smokey Joe.

For gas grills: have the two outside burners on high, and the middle on low.

Add a few chips of fruit wood to the fire about 10 minutes before adding the peppers (optional). If you’re using a gas grill, use a smoke box.

Dragon Claws

Grill the Dragon Claws over direct heat, 8-10 minutes, turning as need,  until the bacon begins to crisp.

Dragon Claws AMNW2

Move grilled peppers to indirect heat, glaze one side of each pepper, flip and repeat. Keep brushing with glaze, and turning until the glaze is set (about 5 minutes).

Dragon Claws on the grill

Remove, allow to rest at least 15 minutes, and then serve warm.

To make these on the Traeger:

20 minutes on “Smoke”, then grill 15 minutes at 300F (lid down), brush with glaze and flip, brush with glaze and grill 10 more minutes (lid down).

For a full-meal-deal, try this same recipe using larger Anaheim Peppers! (This was the original recipe, hence the name “Dragon Claws!”)

Sausage Stuffed Anahiem Peppers wrapped in Bacon

Now, get out there and grill!

~Chef Perry

PS ~ For even more BBQ and grilling articles and recipes, check out my outdoor cooking blog at www.lacajachinacooking.com


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Chef Chris’ Sweet-Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Hash

I know that this isn’t the first time I’ve griped about this, but it’s my party and I’ll whine if I want to! 😉

One of the few downsides to being a chef and/or food blogger, is that you very seldom get invited over for a home-cooked dinner. Like…ever. Friends and family see the pretty photos and “exotic” recipes you post, and think, “Man, I can’t cook for THEM!

Which is kinda silly, as most chefs LOVE to be cooked for and our standards (or at least mine) aren’t nearly as high as people seem to think. I love Chicken McNuggets and Kraft Mac & Cheese as much as the next red-blooded American fatty!

So, to compensate for this lack of socialization, at least for our family’s sake, we tend to invite other chefs over, and they reciprocate, because every chef secretly (or not so secretly) knows that he or she is the better cook anyway, so there’s no intimidation. 😉

Last week we we’re invited over by my best friend, Chef Chris Renner and his family, for dinner and it was, of course, amazing.

Sousvide Steak with Sweet Potato Hash

Chef Chris made steaks, which he cooked sous-vide for 12 hours, and then caramelized with a blow torch, and they were unbelievably good. He accompanied those with his own Sweet Potato Hash (recipe below), which I haven’t been able to stop thinking about for a week. I brought a bag of salad.

There’s no money in trying to out-cook Chef Chris, believe me…I know.

Seriously, I was one of the best dinners I’ve eaten in a long time, and that hash is going to be a permanent addition to my holiday cooking menu.

Chef graciously shared the recipe with me, so I could share it with you, and I know it’s short notice, but if you can squeeze this into your Thanksgiving menu, you really, really, should! It’s certainly on mine.

IMG_4660Chef Chris’ Sweet Potato Hash

  • 4 med sweet potatoes, diced 1-inch cube
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 1/2 pound of bacon lardons
  • 1 Tbsp butter(or ghee)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Over medium heat melt butter and oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add bacon cook for a couple of minutes.

Then add sweet potatoes and onion. Cook stirring occasionally (don’t stir too often) until potatoes are cooked. (You should get some nice caramelized bits that add a lot of flavor.)

Serves 4

Sousvide Steak with Sweet Potato Hash


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

 

From the Holiday Guide: Roasted Maple Bacon Carrots

Roasted Maple Bacon Carrots

Maple Bacon Roasted Carrots
Original recipe from “Bacon: A Home Chef’s Guide”

Here’s a quick and easy recipe from the upcoming, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.”

Crispy, smoky, salty bacon-wrapped roasted carrots glazed in sweet maple syrup. The perfect side dish for any holiday meal!

The Recipe

  • 2 pounds carrots, trimmed & peeled
  • 1 lb. apple-wood smoked bacon
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

Wrap the carrots in the bacon.

Arrange on a wire rack on a foil wrapped baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400F. oven.

Cook until the bacon is crispy and the carrots are tender, about 20-30 minutes, glazing with the maple syrup half way through.

Home Chef Note: If you’re feeding a crowd, you can save yourself some time and make this recipe casserole-style. Chop and fry your bacon, oil a baking dish with the bacon fat, toss bacon with peeled baby carrots and maple syrup, and add to baking dish. Roast at 350F for 20 minutes!


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

 

 

 

National Oyster Day AND #baconweek? Oh, yes…

Angels on Horseback recipe

Today is #baconweek AND National Oyster Day!

This is the one we’ve been waiting for, people…the perfect storm!

In honor of this momentous occasion, here’s a freebie from “Bacon: A Home Chef’s Guide”, that also happens to be my all-time favorite appetizer!

angels on horseback recipe

Angels on Horseback (Bacon-Wrapped Oysters)

Angels on horseback, or oysters wrapped in bacon, is a classic oyster dish that is very common on the East Coast. and is often seen as a wedding appetizer on Long Island in New York.

The recipe was first published in 1888, in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. The dish is to be credited to Urbain Dubois, the chef of the German emperor.

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By the In the 1930s, Angels on Horseback had become a popular picnic goody, and was ubiquitous on Sunday brunch menus.

In the 1960’s, a popular variation on this dish became to serve the oyster raw, wrapped in fried bacon (delicious, but some folks have texture issues with this one), as well as adding a liberal dose of hot red pepper sauce, before broiling…known as “Angels in Hell.” Seriously, I don’t make this stuff up!

Angels on Horseback where included in the 1990’s bestseller, “1001 Foods to Die For.” (Great book, btw!)

With only three ingredients in the prep list – bacon, oysters, cayenne pepper, and a squirt of lime juice, sprinkled with parsley – this dish couldn’t be easier to prepare.

P1120811This is how God wants you to eat his oysters…

  • 2 dozen fresh small oysters (shucked)
  • Cayenne pepper powder
  • 12 strips thin sliced, apple-wood smoked bacon
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 limes

Slice bacon strips in half. Be sure to use thin-cut bacon.

Season each oyster with a light pinch of cayenne pepper.

Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each oyster and secure with a toothpick. Arrange on a baking dish. (Don’t use a rack – you want the fat to pool, so it’s pulled into the oysters!)

angels on horseback

Cook the bacon-wrapped oysters under the broiler until they’re crispy, about 5-6 minutes.

Flip, and return to the broiler to crisp the other side (another 2-4 minutes). Sprinkle with parsley, and serve with lime wedges.

Angels on Horseback are traditionally served on buttered toast points.

BTW – These make an AMAZING filling for an Oyster Po’ Boy sandwich!

#baconweek and National Oyster Day…it may not happen again in our lifetime, my friends…make the most of it!

😉

~Chef Perry


Each Home Chef Guidebook delves more deeply into the professional quality recipes and techniques of specific cooking styles and cuisines.

Bacon A Home Chef's GuideThis one is all about BACON!

Bacon is the candy-apple red hot-rod of the food world. We want it, but we also fear it a little, which makes us want it even more…

Each year in the U.S. more than 1.7 billion lbs. of bacon are consumed – equivalent to the weight of 8 1/2 Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

65% of Americans would support bacon as their “national food” and more than half of us claim that we would rather have bacon than sex.

Bacon is kinda a big deal.

Let’s learn about bacon, the types of bacon out there, the best chef techniques for cooking it, and the most delicious recipes available for God’s most perfect meat!

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Shrimp-N-Bacon Soft Tacos #baconweek

Shrimp-Soft-Tacos-with-Pork-Cheek-Bacon-Lardons

So far this week, we’ve looked at How to make our own bacon, Peanut Butter Bacon Waffles, and Grilled Chicken and Guanciale Bacon Alfredo.

Today, we’re going to toss some seafood in with that porcine perfection, in one of my all time favorite Home Chef Umami-bomb recipes:

Shrimp-N-Bacon Soft Tacos

Marinade
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp hot sauce (I like Franks)
1 tsp lime juice
½ tsp smoked paprika

Fillin’
1lb raw shrimp (26-30ct) shelled & deveined
½ white onion, julienned
2 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
1/2 lb thick sliced bacon, chopped

Fixin’s
2 avocados, peeled & sliced
6 flour gorditas, warmed
6 Tbs Crema (Mexican sour cream)
1 batch Perk’s Pico de Gallo

Make Pico, and chill 1-2 hours while preparing the rest of the meal.

Mix first 5 ingredients, and toss with shrimp. Cover and fridge 1 hour.

Sweat onions, with bacon and garlic in a medium-low pan 10-15 minutes, until onions start to clear.

Add shrimp (discard marinade), cover and cook until shrimp are just pink through.

Assemble contents of pan, along with remaining ingredients, evenly on gorditas, and serve.

Serves 4-6


Each Home Chef Guidebook delves more deeply into the professional quality recipes and techniques of specific cooking styles and cuisines.

Bacon A Home Chef's GuideThis one is all about BACON!

Bacon is the candy-apple red hot-rod of the food world. We want it, but we also fear it a little, which makes us want it even more…

Each year in the U.S. more than 1.7 billion lbs. of bacon are consumed – equivalent to the weight of 8 1/2 Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

65% of Americans would support bacon as their “national food” and more than half of us claim that we would rather have bacon than sex.

Bacon is kinda a big deal.

Let’s learn about bacon, the types of bacon out there, the best chef techniques for cooking it, and the most delicious recipes available for God’s most perfect meat!

amazon

Grilled Chicken and Guanciale Bacon Alfredo #baconweek

Grilled Chicken and Guanciale Bacon Alfredo

Everything’s better with bacon, right?

If you don’t believe that…this recipe will convert you!

Guanciale (gwan-chalie), an Italian-style bacon made from hog jowl, is a prized gourmet delicacy in central Italy. Typically, it’s dry-cured, hand-coated with fresh cracked peppercorns, then smoked over smoldering hickory logs for nearly 24 hours. The result is a meat with a noticeably richer flavor than typical bacon, and is a popular addition to such classic dishes as spaghetti alla carbonara and pasta all’amatriciana.

I found it with the uncut bacon, and smoked hocks, at Fred Meyer, for about 1/2 the price of good bacon (about $2.50/lb).

Here’s what I do with it:

Grilled Chicken and Guanciale Bacon Alfredo

1 pound dried fettuccine or spaghetti
1/2 lb chicken tenders, brined and grilled
1/2 lb pork cheeks (jowls) bacon, or Guanciale
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup finely grated Asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs yolks
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350d

Slice guanciale into 1/2 inch thick slices and place on a rack over a a foil-lined baking pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until bacon appears crisp at the edges. Remove to paper towels to rest. Reserve the fat in the pan.

Cook the fettuccine in a pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain in a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. NEVER RINSE YOUR PASTA.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until tender, add garlic. Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Roughly chop bacon and return to pan, heat, and then toss cooked pasta with bacon and fat, over medium-high heat along with the reserved cooking liquid. Add the butter-cream mixture, half of the asiago, and chicken, and toss to combine thoroughly.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sprinkle with remaining Asiago and garnish with raw egg yolk.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

PS – The raw egg yolk is another Italian thing, and adds an extra layer of richness to the recipe. Once served, break the yolk and gently fold into the dish. Alternatively, you can add the yolks to the pasta along with the sauce and blend it in then.


Bacon A Home Chef's GuideThe Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen” was your overview of the basic concepts and tips for taking your cooking to the next level, but let’s face it, you can only fit so much information into one book!

Each Home Chef Guidebook delves more deeply into the professional quality recipes and techniques of specific cooking styles and cuisines.

This one is all about BACON.

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Makin’ Bacon!

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As Potentate Maximus and Supreme Despot-for-Life, here in the People’s Republic of my Office/Garage, I hereby use my ultimate authority to declare this:

“NATIONAL BACON WEEK!”

All bacon, all week, all day. Recipes to follow…2 a day, unless I forget, or the chest pains get me. You may return to your hovels.

(…and no more “Maximus” jokes…you jerks!) 😜

 

Oh, and this one’s for Duane…

a3329943429a4c7929b3fcf54aa40d8dLike any recipe, the better the quality basic ingredients that you start out with, the better your result are going to be. Buy the best pork belly you can find!

  • 3lb skinless, boneless pork belly
  • 3 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. pink curing salt
  • apple wood chunks/chips

Curing

Curing_pork_belliesCombine the pepper, sugar, paprika, salt & curing salt in a small bowl. Place belly on a foil lined tray and pat dry with paper towels.

Sprinkle half of the cure mixture evenly over the surface of the belly, and rub it in. Flip the belly and repeat with the rest of the mix. Be sure to cover the entire exterior, including the sides.

Drop the rubbed belly into a big zip-bag, and refrigerate for one week, flipping the belly and massaging (in the bag) once a day.

After a week, remove the belly from the bag and rinse in cold water, to remove excess cure. Pat dry with paper towels, and refrigerate uncovered another 24 hours. Use a rack over a pan to catch drippings. (This extra drying helps the shoulder take the smoke.)

Probe1Smoking

Place a probe (I push mine through a halved potato, for a “base) at the back of the grill grate., to measure your smoker’s internal temp. 

Place the second probe into the thickest part of the center of the belly (from the side) to track the temp of the meat.

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Smoke the belly, using the apple wood, at 150-190°F for 3-4 hours, to an internal temp of 150F.

Home Chef Note: This step does not COOK your bacon, it’s just adding smoke.  Bacon will still be “raw” when done (ie: you’ll still need to fry it, before eating).

Refrigerate your bacon in an airtight zip-bag for up to a week, slicing and cooking as needed.

Now that you have a baseline for comparison, experiment with different woods, sugars, and spices until you have your perfect custom-made bacon!

quote-slicing-a-warm-slab-of-bacon-is-a-lot-like-giving-a-ferret-a-shave-no-matter-how-careful-alton-brown-76-65-24


Each Home Chef Guidebook delves more deeply into the professional quality recipes and techniques of specific cooking styles and cuisines.

Bacon A Home Chef's GuideThis one is all about BACON!

Bacon is the candy-apple red hot-rod of the food world. We want it, but we also fear it a little, which makes us want it even more…

Each year in the U.S. more than 1.7 billion lbs. of bacon are consumed – equivalent to the weight of 8 1/2 Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

65% of Americans would support bacon as their “national food” and more than half of us claim that we would rather have bacon than sex.

Bacon is kinda a big deal.

Let’s learn about bacon, the types of bacon out there, the best chef techniques for cooking it, and the most delicious recipes available for God’s most perfect meat!

amazon

 

 

Blue Cheese Bacon-Wrapped Dates

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This is my Darlin’s very favorite appetizer (and it’s up near the top of my list, too!)

Salty, sweet, and savory, these Bleu Cheese Bacon-Wrapped Dates are a snap to make, which is good, because they disappear fast!

Here’s the video…

(Oh, and to get my best recipe, like this one, as well as professional tips and techniques, delivered right to you inbox, be sure to sign up for my weekly Newsletter, here!)

 

Bacon A Home Chef's Guide
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Bacon Wrapped Pickle Spears

Bacon Wrapped Pickles

Okay, this barely qualifies as a recipe, but these bacon wrapped pickle spears were so amazing that I had to post it. This is one of those recipes where the finished product far surpasses the sum of its parts.

The tart brine of the pickle, coupled with the salty-savory of crispy bacon, all dunked in a cool and creamy Ranch dressing.

Seriously, this was one of the best things I’ve tasted in a long time!

You’ll need (for as many as you want to make)…

  • 1 “Crunchy Dill” pickle spear
  • 1 slice of thin-sliced bacon (I like the double smoked apple-wood.)
  • You favorite brand of Buttermilk Ranch dressing, for dipping
  • 1 toothpick

Pre-heat your oven to 425F

Bacon Wrapped Pickles

Let the pickle spears drain on paper towels for 14-20 minutes, then wrap 1 spear in 1 slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick.

Bacon Wrapped Pickles

Lay the bacon-wrapped spears on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake 12-15 minutes, or until the bacon has crisped, turning once.

If you like what I’m posting, please subscribe to my newsletter, and get even more recipes (and some that I don’t post here!)

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Cool and drain on paper towels, and serve warm with ranch dressing for dipping.

Bacon Wrapped Pickles

HomeChef Note: I’ve had a number of folks ask about using bleu cheese dressing (my favorite, too) instead of Ranch. Personally, I think the stronger flavor of the bleu might overwhelm the flavors on the bacon, but I plan to try it!

Enjoy!

~Chef Perry

PS ~ If you’re as big a fan of the smoky pig strips as I am, be sure to check out…

Bacon A Home Chef's Guide
Just click the cover to learn more!