Drink Magazine

Pig as a Blanket

By Lucasryden @saborkitchen

In the world of culinary fetishes, bacon is king.  No other product has attained this gust-busting level of popularity, creating an utter obsession that – in some regions of the world – borders on religious fantacism.  There are now week-long festivals dedicated to bacon.  We eat bacon with chocolate and drink cocktails with bacon-infused vodka.  Websites have been created for the sole purpose of charting the history and global diaspora of grade A pork fat (bacontoday.com, anyone?).  And even the culinary diehards at the CIA are starting to incorporate this historically inferior cut of meat into their repertoire on a seriously regular basis (although they still prefer the term pork belly).  Everybody loves bacon.  But why?

From a scientific perspective, it’s pretty simple.  The reaction between heat, amino acids in the bacon, and reducing sugars in the fat is what ignites our taste buds, says Elin Roberts, Science Communications manager at the Centre for Life Education Centre in Newcastle.  This process, known as the Maillard Reaction, releases an abundance of flavors and smells that are highly concentrated in products like bacon.

Another explanation has to do with the 5 taste receptors: bitter, salty, sour, sweet, and umami.  Nutritionally-dense bacon is a powerful source of several of these, particularly the last one.  A Japanese term best translated as “pleasant savory taste,” umami is responsible for the satiating qualities of foods high in protein or fat.

 

bacondates

 

The bottom line is that bacon tastes good.  Really good.   And regardless of the media’s attempt to scare us with alleged pork shortages and the health detriments of saturated fat, people around the world will continue to worship the smell, taste, and nostalgic experience of sizzling strips of pork fat.

Today’s recipe is a tribute to the bacon obsession.  Fresh dates are stuffed with smoked gouda, apple, and jalapeños, then wrapped in a warm bacon blanket and baked to crispy perfection.  A drizzle of cabernet reduction finishes the dish and adds another layer of sweet to the salty, umami qualities of our favorite piece of meat.  Amen.

Ingredients:
10 strips bacon
20 large dates, pitted
1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese
1 apple, diced
2 jalapeños, diced
cabernet reduction
toothpicks

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Stuff the dates with cheese, apple, and jalapeño. Wrap each date with 1/2 strip of bacon and stab it with a toothpick to secure the blanket. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until bacon is crisp and cheese is melted. Serve with cabernet reduction.

 


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