Funny, this – “Living high on the hog” used to mean one could afford the prime cuts of meat farthest away from the pig’s belly – the luxurious loin. But today you can’t walk down a block at lunchtime without running into an urban hipster biting into some form of pork belly. Eating low on the hog is decidedly trendy.
This recipe feeds that craze, featuring bacon in a rather unusual but delicious preparation – skewered and grilled. The recipe originated with Chris Morocco over at Bon Appetit (photo by Ted Cavanaugh), but I’ve simplified it a bit so more people can prepare it using ingredients already in their pantry – unless the back corner of your condiment shelf is hiding a jar of the spicy Asian concoction known as sambal oelek, in which case add a couple TBSPs of it to the relish, by all means.
When planning your meal you may find it easiest to purchase the bacon by the number of slices you’d like to serve each guest instead of by weight. If this is your main protein, you’ll want a good five or six slices per person. If serving as an appetizer or side dish, perhaps just two or three. I prepared this recipe with a thick-cut pepper bacon and can’t imagine how it would work with anything thinner.
There are three sections to the recipe – the glaze, the relish and the meat.
The Glaze – used during the last two minutes of cooking. Can be prepared in advance and refrigerated. This recipe is sufficient for 8 slices of bacon. Increase the recipe accordingly as your party gets larger. And when you’re serving these, it’s bound to do so.
- 2 Tbsp honey or agave
- 2 Tbsp sambal oelek or Sriracha
- 1-2 Tbsp unseasoned Rice Vinegar
Combine all ingredients and set aside. Told you this was easy.
The Relish – liberally disperse over the dish immediately after removing from the grill. Let sit at room temperature while preparing the grill so the flavors infuse.
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced (just up to the green part)
- 1 Serrano chile, seeded and diced
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1+ tsp ginger, peeled and grated, to taste (substitute powdered ginger, if you must)
- 1/2 tsp light brown sugar or squeeze of honey or agave syrup
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
At this point, prepare your grill – you want a medium fire on just one side of the grill – you’ll need to use indirect heat to prevent charring. Using metal (preferably) skewers, weave them through the meat (not the fat) every few inches, then stretch the bacon out flat, as shown in the photo above.
Place the skewers over the indirect heat side of the grill and turn every minute or so for about 8 minutes. Don’t leave the grill, these do require a bit of constant attention. You don’t want the bacon to burn, but it should sizzle as it renders its fat and crisps up. While still slightly limp but almost ready, brush the bacon with the glaze and turn every 30 seconds for another 2-3 minutes or until you can’t wait to bite into one. The glaze burns easily, so don’t leave the grill, put your wine glass down, and focus.
The heat in this dish can prove tricky for most wines, and it is really best with a low-alcohol, off-dry white (think Riesling) or Rose. However, the “Red Only” crowd prefers to pair hot dishes with fruity, high-alcohol wines such as a CA Zinfandel. To each his/her own, but if I were forced down the red-only lane I’d opt for a Russian River Pinot. Shop for wines here.