Wednesday, May 12, 2010


When you haven't had bacon in a long time, the taste of it can transform you. It can transform a healthy, calorie counter into an indulgent eater. An apathetic diner into a passionate foodie. From someone who thinks about important things like world peace and helping the homeless to a person who thinks only about bacon. And you wonder why you haven't been eating it all this time.

There's a few other foods with this kind of power. Puff pastry. Chocolate truffles. Hollandaise sauce. Fresh whipped cream. Foods that are decadent, that taste good and make you feel kind of special when you eat them. You feel like you won the spelling bee and got picked first in gym class, all warm and glowy and deserving of good things.

So tonight I made bacon after a long hiatus. It was part of a recipe from a Bobby Flay cookbook that I rediscovered on my bookshelf and have been cooking from all week, and let me tell you, Bobby Flay is rocking my world.

I didn't mean to be this decadent, to swirl cream into buttery grits, grate some cheese and mix it in, to saute shrimp in bacon fat and slide them all grease slicked onto a pool of those grits, and finally to sprinkle some crispy bacon on top. I just followed the recipe, honest, and when I was done but before I took a bite, I thought, this must be pretty bad for me. And then I was done thinking for a while as I inhaled one bite after another.

It was decadent, but oh so enjoyable. Make it. Make it now. And don't let thoughts of Afghanistan or the economy get in the way of your bacon daydreams.

Shrimp and Grits with Double Smoked Bacon ( from Bobby Flay Cooks American)

Cheese grits ingredients:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups milk
3 cups water
salt and pepper
1 cup grits
1 1/2 cups finely grated cheddar cheese*

Shrimp ingredients:
8 ounces double-smoked bacon*, cut into 1/2-inch dice
20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped scallions*

*I used regular, center cut bacon, white cheddar and left off the scallions.

Melt the butter and oil together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring until soft. Increase the heat to high, add the milk, water, and 1 tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil. Slowly add the grits and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is smooth and thick, 15-20 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Quick cooking grits may take less time.)

Meanwhile, make the shrimp. Heat a large pan over high heat until smoking. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until golden brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of fat and return the pan to the stove over high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and toss in the pan until pink and lightly browned, 1 1/2-2 minutes per side.

To serve, pour a serving of cheese grits into a soup plate. Top each plate with five shrimp. Garnish with bacon and chopped scallions.

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