There are only a couple of rules by which I live because, if there were too many, I would end up breaking most of them. They are important nonetheless and I strive to follow them as often as possible. The first of those is “Never take life too seriously” and the second is “Anything can be made better with the addition of bacon.”
Our common love for bacon was one of the many reasons why The Hubs and I concluded that we were meant for each other. Believe it or not, I had “I love you more than bacon” engraved on the inside of his wedding band in case he ever doubts the sincerity of my devotion to him. Over the years, we have had many culinary adventures where we invented new ways to prepare and consume our favorite of nature’s candy, and it wasn’t until recently that we discovered that there is such a thing as BEEF bacon. What a revelation! Since we are firm believers in the notion that bacon can be a complimentary addition to any food, we made beef bacon into a four-course meal, including dessert!
Using some of our favorite time-tested bacon recipes, this Tenner duo pulled out all the stops for the making of a feast. Our menu plan included a spinach-beef bacon salad, beef bacon-wrapped filets, beef bacon mac-and-cheese, and candied beef bacon a la mode.
To make the salad, we used some of California’s finest produce…fresh spinach, avocado, sliced almonds, dried cranberries and feta cheese…plus, beef bacon and an olive oil vinaigrette. We used Brandt Beef Cowboy Bacon.
We candied the almonds to compliment the flavor of the savory beef bacon. Candying is easily accomplished by placing the almonds in a small frying pan with an equal amount of granulated sugar. Continue to heat and stir constantly until the sugar begins to melt, then remove the pan from the heat immediately. Spread the candied almonds on a piece of waxed paper and allow them to cool for use in the salad.
The beef bacon can be cut into bite-size pieces and cooked in a frying pan. At this time we cooked six chopped beef bacon strips for the salad and another ten for the mac-and-cheese.
Once the salad bacon was cooked, we set that aside and started on the candied bacon. We discovered this gem of a recipe in a “Bacon Fact of the Day” calendar I bought for The Hubs when we were in the beginning days of our courtship. While we didn’t bother to delve too deeply into other offerings of the calendar, we made the wise decision to try the candied bacon. Amen! It is the simplest thing to make and requires only four ingredients and a little patience.
While the candied beef bacon was baking, we started on the mac-and-cheese. This is a recipe that I have been perfecting over the years. Much to my dismay, however, bricks of Velveeta cheese aren’t sold anymore. Instead, I laboriously unwrapped individually-wrapped American cheese slices. It’s this kind of cheese that gives the dish its creaminess.
In a Dutch oven or a large stove-to-oven dish, scald about three cups of milk with three tablespoons of butter to start the cheese sauce. Add the unwrapped American cheese as well as two cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir this frequently so you don’t burn the cheese at the bottom of the pan.
At this time, you can also boil the macaroni. I prefer a penne-like noodle or any type that is hollow because it holds the most cheese. Boil the noodles until they are just underdone because they will cook the rest of the way in the oven. When the pasta is done, drain and add it, along with the beef bacon, to the cheese sauce. Mix this well so the beef bacon is evenly distributed among the pasta.
For extra yumminess, sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top prior to placing in the oven. The mac-and-cheese only needs to be baked at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes, or when the cheese starts bubbling.
While the macaroni baked, we prepped the beef bacon-wrapped beef. We found two perfect three-ounce portions of filet in the meat case, which makes them a dietitian’s best friend. Since filets are so tender, they don’t require much aside from some freshly-cracked peppercorn and a cozy beef bacon wrap.
The filets can be sauteed in olive oil for about five minutes per side or until the internal temperature is 145 degrees F.
By the time our filets were done, our mouths were watering and we were ready to eat.
Course number one was the salad, which was pretty much a meal in itself.
The second and third courses of beef bacon-wrapped filets and beef bacon mac-and-cheese ensured that we were stuffed by the end of the meal.
Don’t worry, we still had room to fill in the gaps with our candied beef bacon ice cream sundaes!