Monday, December 15, 2014

Bacon Appetizers (Pioneer Woman)

A few days before my office Christmas party, I started scouring my Pinterest boards looking for a tasty new appetizer to try.  I mean, what's the point of pinning all that delicious looking food if you don't actually MAKE the recipes every once in a while, right?  I came across this one from one of my favorite Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, and thought I would try them out.  

Mmmm  Bacon Appetizers
What's not to love about something with only three ingredients - even if these same said ingredients seem like slightly strange bedfellows?  Bacon. Club Crackers. Parmesan Cheese. Together.  That's it.  I shrugged and thought, well Ree has never steered me wrong in the past, I'm just going to go for it.  First gather your ingredients:

Club crackers, bacon (not thick cut) and grated Parmesan cheese
Take a sleeve of club crackers and lay them out on a 1/2 sheet pan or cookie sheet.  It is highly recommended that you use a rack over the top of the baking sheet, so the bacon grease drips below as it cooks.

I hilariously do not yet have a rack that fits my 1/2 sheet pan (it's on my Christmas wish list... hint hint Mr. D), so I MacGyver'd a make-shift solution using the rack I normally use to cool my cookies on.  It was a little cumbersome and awkward, but it got the job done.  Next, get out your bacon and cut the slab in half

 Next, you want to sprinkle a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese onto the length of each cracker

Ree insists you do NOT want the hoity-toity fancy shredded Parmesan here, just the regular green can of grated cheese you would find in your regular supermarket.  That's because these are apparently a "retro" aka "hip" appetizer from the 80's. That was before the popularity of gluten-free everything, the insurgence of kale (which by the way was a salad bar garnish in the 80's), and that healthy police PC list of no-no's for most processed foods that now ravage our land.  People ate bacon back then, and processed cheese, and smoked 2-packs a day, and drank Tab.  People in the 80's didn't care.  People in the 80's knew how to PARTY!

Where was I?  Oh yes.  We are about to take our half strip of bacon, and gingerly wrap it around the cracker withOUT spilling any of the loose Parmesan cheese.  This takes much dexterity and skill by the way.

Try to wrap the bacon so that the loose end is tucked under the bottom of the cracker on the rack.  Soon you will have a few rows of these cute fellas.  I used one full sleeve of the club crackers, but ended up using more than one package of bacon, actually half of a second pack of bacon.

Little piggie blankets, all in a row

Place in a 250º oven for two hours. That's right.  Two long hours.  You can wrap presents, you can do your hair, you can learn to yodel.  Just make sure you know your entire house will smell like delicious, fragrant bacon.  Two hours later you will peek in your oven to find these golden brown, delightful little rows of pure hog heaven.

After you let them cool completely, you can place them on a serving tray.

These are not supposed to be served hot, but at room temperature. This allows time for the crackers to crisp back up and the bacon juices to "settle".   I've also been told you can make these puppies ahead of time, freeze them, and pull them out and defrost them at 250º for a few minutes before serving.    Let's take a closer look:

Cheesy bacon crackers with no name...

Well, they smell awesome, they don't look all that glamorous, but the important question is.... how do they taste??

Well the definitive answer would be bacon! If you like bacon, then this is your new go-to appetizer.  The cracker gets all brown and crispy, the cheese melts slightly down and browns the cracker even more.   I wasn't sure how this would be received by my coworkers.  Again, not the prettiest to look at, and she wouldn't win the swim suit competition at the pageant that's for sure, but she may just walk away with the award for Ms. Congeniality of flavor town!  So here I went, off to the party. hoping for the best.  I laid down my plate of bacon-y goodness and uncovered the foil wrapper.  

Bacon appetizers - you cant go wrong!!

My boss was the first to spot them about ten seconds later.  "IS THIS BACON?!"... he shouted and popped one in his mouth.  After that a few more people in the room stepped forward. I saw a couple of husbands look at each other with an approving nod.  This wasn't a cheese ball or a hummus veggie tray, this was cooked MEAT.  I'm not kidding you, within a few minutes, the entire plate was gone.  I totally should have doubled the recipe!  One co-worker told me I was required to bring them to all future company functions after trying just one.  If that's not the mark of a great appetizer, I don't know what is.

By the way, I have also heard that you can replace the Parmesan cheese layer with a layer of brown sugar instead, for a sweet and savory version of the same appetizer.  Now, run and make up a batch of these for your next gathering, and go party like it's 1989!

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