Recipe of the Week: Bacon Ranch & White Cheddar Pizza with New York Style Crust

Ingredients

Crust:
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • cornmeal for work surface (optional)
Ranch:
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 large onion, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 ounces cream cheese (about 1/4 cup), softened
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Toppings:
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 large green onion, diced

Instructions

Crust:
  1. Stir water, sugar, and yeast together until yeast is dissolved and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in salt and oil until combined. Add the all purpose flour a little at a time and mix until dough comes together. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes, adding a bit more flour as needed until the dough pulls away from the surface. It should be smooth and resilient. Place in oiled bowl and cover, then place in warm place to rise for about 2 hours until nearly doubled in size. (If you have the time to let it rise longer it gives it better flavor.)
Ranch:
  1. Combine all the ingredients for the ranch in a blender or food processor and pulse until creamy smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Alternatively, if you do not have a blender, you can chop the garlic and onion by hand until minced and mix everything in a bowl.)
Pizza:
  1. When the dough is done rising, preheat oven to 450 degrees F (232C) and place a pizza stone or a thick pizza pan in the oven to heat. On a clean work surface dusted with flour or cornmeal, roll the pizza dough out into a circle that’s roughly 14 inches in diameter. Place the crust on large piece of parchment paper on a completely flat pan or tray so that you can slide it easily onto the pizza stone later. Pour the ranch sauce out onto crust and spread evenly. Top that with the white cheddar then crumble the bacon over the top and sprinkle on the green onion evenly.
  2. When the oven is hot, carefully slide your pizza onto the pizza stone or pan and bake pizza for 12 – 15 minutes until edges are golden and cheese is well melted and browning on top. Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes so the cheese doesn’t ooze off when cutting, then slice and serve hot!

U.S. Bacon Reserves Hit 50-Year Low Because We Just Can’t Stop Eating Bacon

Crispy, crunchy, fragrant, savory — it’s no mystery that Americans love our bacon. But we’re eating so much of it lately that our nation’s bacon reserves — yes, that exists — are at their lowest levels in 50 years.

According to the Ohio Pork Council, a non-profit out of Columbus, the demand for frozen pork belly, which is often made into bacon, is outstripping supply because pig farmers just can’t keep up.

“Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” Rich Deaton, president of the organization, tells USA Today. “Yet our reserves are still depleting.”

As USA Today puts it, “There are literally not enough little piggies going to market.” In Dec. 2016, America’s frozen pork belly inventory stood at 17.8 million pounds, which is the lowest it’s been since 1957 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This means when we go to the market, prices might be a bit higher: Pork belly prices spiked 20% in January, the council reports. Increased demand from overseas may have also contributed to the dip in inventory.

Despite the low inventory, there will be enough bacon to satisfy our country.

“While bacon may become more expensive for consumers, rest assured pork industry will not run out of supply,” said Deaton.

The Food Gods Have Answered Our Prayers With A Toaster Just for Bacon

If you find your kitchen counters cluttered with food-specific gadgets and appliances, you finally have a good reason to get rid of them all. The culinary innovators at Nostalgia Electrics have created the only thing you’ll ever need: The Bacon Express, a toaster that cooks delicious slices of pork instead of bread.

Like your ice cream maker, waffle maker, and popcorn machine, the $40 Bacon Express is really only capable of one task in the kitchen: cooking bacon. But while you can live without ice cream, waffles, and popcorn, it’s hard to imagine a life without that crispy, salty staple.

The vertical heating element has enough capacity for six slices of bacon, and a pair of doors seal the heat, grease, and goodness inside. A dial on the side also lets you adjust cooking times, while a tray at the bottom collects grease drippings so they’re easy to dispose of, or use for other purposes. We’re not here to judge.

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You Are Scientifically Destined To Love Bacon

I have a confession to make: My mouth still waters when there’s bacon popping on the stove. But why? Where does humanity’s bacon-lust emanate from? Why does it taste and smell like the smoky nectar of the gods? Here’s why, according to science.

Let’s Talk About Fat

Bacon’s marbling comes from fat. And everyone knows that fat tastes good. But how come? In part, it’s because fat makes other flavors taste better. Fat affects how “volatile compounds are released in our mouths and, ultimately, how the flavor gets perceived.” What’s more, flavors tend to stick to fat molecules, so that their release is extended in your mouth.

Studies also have shown that your body is designed to like it. It’s possible that humans have as many as 20 receptors for tastes, including fat. One study found that people with a protein called CD36 were more likely to detect small amounts of oil. This predisposition makes evolutionary sense, since fat can be converted into energy — and humans need energy to survive.

It’s Chemical

Fat is responsible for various chemical reactions, which also affects how bacon tastes. In part, that begins with the cooking process, when pork-belly fat breaks down. The fatty acids in the muscle tissue break apart into compounds such as aldehydes, furans, and ketones. As food scientist Guy Crosby told the BBC, these work together to create bacon’s flavor. The salts that cure the pork belly can change the fat’s chemical reactions, too, which further affects flavor. And the types of fatty acids that are present are affected by the diet and breed of the pig.

Much of bacon’s flavor appeal lies in umami — that buzzy flavor that essentially means “yummy” in Japanese. Six out of the 18 ingredients that make up bacon are types of umami, which we have evolved to crave: According to The Guardian newspaper, umami is “a marker of protein (which is made up of amino acids, which are essential for life).”

What’s That Smell?

When foods are cooked and heated, a chemical reaction occurs between amino acids and sugars, which releases pleasing aromatic compounds including hydrocarbons and aldehydes. (This is known as the Maillard reaction, if you’re ever on Jeopardy!.)

Somehow, bacon-smell is more tantalizing than other foods, though. That stems from the specific chemicals in it. Because bacon is cured in brine or salt, it contains more nitrates than regular pork. As The Telegraph explains, when bacon-fat molecules disintegrate, those nitrogen-rich compounds “not only reinforce the meaty fragrance already in abundance, but they deepen it as well, upping the pungent paradise enveloping the kitchen.” Well said!

There’s No Place Like Home

The last piece of the puzzle is harder to pin down, or attribute definitively to chemical reactions and science. That’s because part of bacon’s appeal lies in nostalgia. As Aviva Shen writes, bacon is so purely American: “[It] is the iconic food memory of most people’s childhoods — which makes it the ultimate comfort food.” The sight, sound, smell, and taste of bacon calls forth for many people sunny images of breakfasts past, and it’s that ineffable alchemical process that completes the delicious scientific picture of America’s favorite meat.

The Bacon and Cancer Study, Explained

News stories are constantly warning people that certain foods or behaviors might cause cancer. Sometimes the headlines even flip back and forth. So what are we to make of this latest announcement that scientists have linked meat consumption to certain types of cancers? Is this the real deal, or more hype?

The short answer is that, yes, this is a real finding. But — and this part is important — it’s also a very narrow finding that needs to be interpreted cautiously.

In preparing its announcement today, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) didn’t just rely on a single study. The group reviewed all the existing evidence, including many years of epidemiological research, on processed and red meats to determine whether they lead to cancer in humans.

After reviewing that data, the group concluded “there is convincing evidence” that regularly eating processed meat — like hot dogs or salami — can definitely increase the risk of certain types of cancer by a small amount. The group also said there was suggestive evidence that eating unprocessed red meat — such as beef, veal, and lamb — could increase one’s cancer risk, but this evidence wasn’t as definitive. (So the researchers classified red meat as “probably carcinogenic.”)

Now, this doesn’t mean that red meat is much better than processed meat or vice versa — just that we’re less certain about how dangerous it is. Still, because this finding was based on many studies in different contexts conducted over many years, it’s far more likely to hold up. So this isn’t just a run-of-the-mill news story about a single study that will be contradicted two weeks later.

The findings were also extremely narrow…

The WHO’s IARC didn’t come out and say that eating any sort of meat will cause all kinds of cancer. Nor did it claim processed meat is just as dangerous as smoking. The conclusions were far, far narrower: They have to do with cancer (mainly colon and rectal cancers) and meat.

The panel also didn’t say anything about any of the other health or environmental risks (or potential benefits) of eating red meat.

So keep that all in mind. The IARC is making a narrow claim about the strength of the research around a specific question (“Does eating red meat increase your risk of cancer?”) It is not making a claim about the relative risks, or about whether you should eat meat or not. Those are more complicated, and separate, questions.

Kick Off National Vodka Day with This Sriracha, Bacon Bloody Mary

We’ll put bacon in anything. We’re that crew. While we’d like to agree with you guys who are over the whole bacon-on-the-internet thing. We can’t. Bottom line, we like the stuff too much. Sorry.

Ingredients:

15 oz. tomato juice (I like Naked Juice Tomato Kick)
1/2 – 1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce (adjust up or down depending on how spicy you like it)
1 1/2 – 3 shots bacon-infused vodka
Ground black pepper
Ground sea salt
Lemon juice
Ice
Cooked bacon strips, for garnish
Lemon wedge, for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Cook your bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Set aside while you shake up your drink.
  2. We always include a big squirt of Sriracha. If spicy isn’t your thing, leave it out.
  3. Half fill a shaker with ice.
  4. Add a generous squeeze of lemon. Toss in a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper.
  5. Squirt in the Sriracha.
  6. Add the vodka.
  7. Fill with juice. Cap and shake to chill.
  8. Pour into a pint glass.
  9. Top with a little freshly cracked black pepper.
  10. Garnish with bacon and a fat wedge of lemon. (We skewer our bacon to make it a little easier to eat.)

Oscar Mayer Releases Sizzl, a Dating App Exclusively for Bacon Lovers

Oscar Mayer’s love for bacon has taken a romantic turn, as 360i today unveils Sizzl, an actual dating app built for people who dig on swine (which is to say, almost everybody).

You download the app, specify your bacon preferences in a customizable profile, upload photos and start swiping your greasy digits through pics of local fellow bacon lovers. Depending on how “Sizzl-ing” they are, you can message and meet up with other Sizzl users, based on a mutual-matching system, for what Oscar Mayer is calling “bacon-wrapped dates.”

“In love, as it is in bacon, it’s important to be discerning when selecting your perfect match and to never settle for less than the best,” Eric Dahmer, marketing director at Oscar Mayer, says in a statement. “We passionately cure our bacon for 12 hours, and lovingly smoke-house it for another 12, making it the true bacon for bacon lovers. With the launch of Sizzl, we’re thrilled to give our true bacon lovers the chance to find each other and potentially meet their soulmates, in life and in bacon.”

Celebrate International Bacon Day with This Bakon Vodka Bloody Mary

It would have taken living under a rock for the last several years to not know that bacon is one of the most popular and cultish foods in America. The pork product has made its way from humble beginnings, as the sidekick to eggs to being an ever-lasting food trend. Bacon is a $4 billion a year pork juggernaut.

Bacon has made its way into the vodka bottle with Bakon Vodka. The first commercially available bacon flavored vodka madeits way onto shelves in 2009, winning gold at the Beverage Tasting Institute in 2010. It also won a silver medal at the 2010 Bevstar Awards, and the 2010 Spirits Convention.

“This is the only vodka you’ll ever want to use to make a Bloody Mary, and it works well in both sweet and savory drinks,” says co-founder Sven Liden. “Bakon Vodka is also a great Bar-B-Q companion, used as a marinade or sipped chilled with a steak.”

A popular breakfast cocktail for decades has been the Bloody Mary; a cocktail which combines mustard and spicy sauces to jar your taste buds. Like anything else, a homemade Bloody Mary is far superior to anything which can be purchased pre-mixed. Below is my recipe for a Homemade Bloody Mary featuring Bakon Vodka.

Homemade Bloody Mary

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons of tobacco sauce
  • 3 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon of celery seed
  • 2 tablespoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
  • 64 oz Tomato Juice (half gallon or 8 cups or 2 quarts)
  • 4 slices of cooked, crisp bacon
  • 1 ½ oz Bakon Vodka
  • Green olives

Instructions:

Mix ingredients together except for the tomato juice. This should yield approximately 2 cups of rough ingredients. Use 1/2 oz of this mixture for every quart of tomato juice, and mix well. Pour 1 ½ oz of Bakon Vodka into a tall chilled glass with ice. Add three olives on toothpick or plastic sword and a slice of crispy bacon. Breakfast is served.

Introducing a Hot Dog Bun Made Entirely Out of Bacon

Soon it will be International Bacon Day, and someone has created the perfect dish for the occasion. Grillocracy created what is known as the Ultimate All Bacon Hot Dog Bun.

Making the hot dog bun is relatively easy to do, as there are only three things needed. You need a whole bunch of bacon, as well as aluminum foil and a grill, of course. Grillocracy, a popular blog about grilling, gives instructions on how to do this, and the way they did it was by creating a bacon weave and then they placed a foil-wrapped hot dog on top of it.

They used more foil and molded the hot dog bun, and then it was frozen, as this kept it firm before cooking it.

The bacon bun is gluten free, as well as carb free. If you decide to make this, make sure you have eight slices of thick cut bacon, as well as an additional slice, just in case you want your hot dog completely wrapped with bacon. Asides from that, you need two hot dogs.

Grillocracy is known for its unique recipes, and this isn’t the first time they created a bun with bacon. A few months ago, they introduced the world to the Zero Carb Bacon Bun Burger. That creation involves using around three-pounds of bacon and it takes around 30 minutes to cook.

Recipe of the Week: Teriyaki Shrimp Burgers with Grilled Pineapple Salsa, Bacon and Blue Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple teriyaki sauce (see below)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grilled pineapple salsa or 4 slices pineapple, grilled
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled

Instructions

  1. Mince 1/3 of the shrimp in a food processor along with the garlic, ginger, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil and green onions.
  2. Mix the minced shrimp into the chopped shrimp along with enough breadcrumbs that the mixture will hold together, form 4 patties and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Oil your grill, heat to medium-high and cook until the shrimp turns pink, about 3-5 minutes per side.
  4. Assemble the burgers and enjoy!