I subscribe to a lot of e-mail recipe lists. A LOT. And of all the recipes I receive everyday, only a few actually make me want to go out, buy the ingredients and cook it up. Most of them sound either too bizarre, or too time consuming. The recipe that Eat Better America had for a Cheesy Potato Chowder, though, sounded simple AND tasty. I replaced the broccoli in the dish with cauliflower though, because broccoli is a tool of Satan and I’ll have none of that in my dishes.
I also added some Bacon Salt to give it a hint of bacon to go along with all that cheese. ‘Cuz seriously? Everything tastes better with Bacon Salt. And just for kicks, I added a pinch of cayenne pepper.
The result? Absolutely delicious.
Bacon-y Cheese-y Potato & Cauliflower Chowder
- 6 medium red potatoes (2 lb), unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tsp Hickory Bacon Salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 12 oz cauliflower cuts
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- 8 oz shredded 2% milk reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
- Add potatoes to a 5-quart pot adding just enough water to cover. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Reserve 1 cup potatoes, returning remaining potatoes to saucepan. In a small bowl, mash reserved potatoes with fork. Return to saucepan.
- Stir in broth, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and Bacon Salt. Heat to boiling. Add cauliflower. Return to boiling and cook uncovered for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium.
- In small bowl with wire whisk, stir flour into milk until well mixed. Add milk mixture to potato mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until mixture thickens and boils. Stir in cheese until melted and smooth. Stir in sour cream. Cook until thoroughly heated.
Makes 8 servings (1 1/4 cups each)
We make jokes about how foods that shouldn’t necessarily be mixed together fairly often on Two Bites. I’m a firm believer that we do not need potato chips that taste like hamburgers or tortilla chips that taste like Mountain Dew. Of course I’ll try a majority of them, but that doesn’t mean that I think they should actually exist in real space. They should exist in our jokes and in the theories and dreams of INCREDIBLY high college kids.
But, alas, I am in the minority. I must be, because otherwise things like Bacon, Egg & Cheese Combos wouldn’t be on the market. But they are. So I am.
I’ve only seen these at my local 7-11 so far, so I cannot guarantee that the more adventurous people out there will find them at their local convenience and/or grocery stores. I CAN guarantee that if you eat an entire bag in one sitting, you will have the overwhelming aftertaste of dirty feet taking up a place in your mouth.
And yet, I can’t necessarily tell you not to buy these. Because they are oddly addicting. Disturbingly, disturbingly addicting. They’re not bad. But they’re not good.
They’re just weird.
A small sampling of a half dozen coworkers resulted in the very same conclusion. “They’re just weird.”
Vegetarians need not worry, because aside from cheese, I don’t think there’s a natural (read Bacon) ingredient in these crackers. Yet somehow, in some sin against nature herself, they taste exactly like a Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast bagel. It doesn’t hit you at first, most likely because when you open the bag they smell overwhelmingly like cat food. But once you pop a few of these breakfast sandwiches of the future into your mouth, you’ll be remiss to disagree. The bacon flavor is surprisingly subtle, and while you can’t pick necessarily pick out the egg and cheese flavors, your mind is registering all the flavors that the bag tells you are there.
These are the kind of crackers that bars need to start putting out for people. It’s the ultimate hangover snack. You’re getting all the greasy spoon flavor in the tiniest of salty crackers stuffed with a cheese-like substance. I’m talking to you Chicago holes-in-the-wall, gastropubs, and dive bars.
Other ideas that we’ve come up with? Mashing these Combos down with a rolling pin and breading, and then deep frying chicken. Serve these with my Cheetos-covered Potato Chips, and life as you know would explode in a world of flavor unlike any you have ever seen before.
Or maybe that’s your heart exploding from extremely high blood pressure.
Once you find yourself on the receiving end of such an eye-opening spice, you start wondering how you can apply to your recipes. That’s the only reason I can come up with that would explain why every restaurant in Chicago was serving hearts of palm a year or so ago.
And this year? Jicama seems to really be popular. And it’s especially popular with me, because I just love saying it out loud. Few other words give off the appearance they should be spoken with a throaty Klingon growl like Jicama. You just want to scream, “Jy-Ka-Ma!” But when you realize that first time it’s pronounced “Hi-cuh-ma,” you end up saying to yourself, “Awwwww, that’s so peaceful.” It’s my favorite food word after falafel. Fa-LA-fel.
And my current favorite? Oh, it’s back. The Bacon Salt has returned. After falling in love with the stuff last week, a discussion arose about what we could toss it on next. Being of the baking persuasion, I wondered about bacon bread. I’ll save you from the logic train that ensued, but let’s just say that we ended up with a recipe calling for cheese stuffed bread.
I had originally discovered this recipe over on bakingsheet, but hadn’t found a good reason to make them. Until Bacon Salt. I adjusted the recipe a bit, adding some butter to the activation process, and replacing the regular sugar and salt with kosher salt and brown sugar for taste. If you don’t have Bacon Salt (blasphemy!), you could honestly sprinkle anything on top. The original recipe calls for garlic salt, which would also be pretty dang tasty. So, again, if for some reason you haven’t run out to buy Bacon Salt, make these with your favorite topping.
Baking these fresh, the aroma of cheese, butter, bread and bacon just fills the house, and that’s no bad thing. It’s miraculous. Try and eat these hot, because they taste like nothing else. Die hard fans of my pretzel bread say these trump the pretzel bread, and they never thought they would say that. I take that as a huge compliment. Even Katie, who said she wouldn’t go near the Bacon Salt has been converted. She loves these rolls. She’s made me promise to make them only on special occasions because she’s afraid of what eating a dozen of these a day would do to her body. (Hint: She’d probably smell like Bacon Salt)
Bacon-Dusted, Mozzarella-Stuffed Dinner Rolls
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup water, warm (110-115F)
- 1/2 cup milk, warm (110-115F)
- 1 tbsp brown or dark brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2-2 1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour
- Fresh mozarella cheese cut into 12, 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp Hickory Bacon Salt
- 1 tsp grated Parmesan Cheese
In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, milk, sugar and butter and let stand for 5 minutes, until yeast is activated and has gone foamy. Add salt and 1 1/2 cups of flour, stirring well. Add the remaining flour gradually, mix until the dough comes together into a ball, away from the sides of the bowl. Place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, 5 minutes should do. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place a square of cheese inside each ball and pinch tightly to seal the dough around the cheese. Reform into a ball if need be. Place seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet, or into well greased cupcake tins, and cover with a dish towel for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375F while rolls rest.
Using a fork, mix the Bacon Salt and Parmesan cheese. Brush rolls with the melted butter and sprinkle with the Bacon Salt & Parmesan cheese mixture. Bake rolls for 18 minutes, turning after 9 minutes, until golden.
Serve right away, as the cheese is best hot. You may end up with one or two cheese explosions, but really, is there anything better than slightly burnt cheese?
Makes 12 rolls.
My office smells like bacon. Not just a little, but as if we were hosting a bacon buffet in our tiny little encoding room. And it’s been lingering for a couple hours now. I did this. And there was no burnt pig involved.
Bacon Salt. How could salt infused with the taste of bacon possibly be good? Or vegetarian? Or kosher? The product’s website promises all three.
My friend Jen had sent me a link to the Bacon Salt website a few weeks ago, declaring that we MUST find this on the shelves somewhere. I checked out the Illinois stores that offered it up, but they were all in suburbs that even I’m not anywhere near. Next stop? Amazon. They have everything, so why not try. Plus, I get free shipping thanks to their handy Prime deal. Sure enough, Amazon was listing a 3-pack for 12 bucks. But, honestly, I don’t mind tossing 99 cents towards a bag of crazy flavored chips, but I wasn’t giving 12 dollars to a wholly untested product.
Luckily, Jen found a link that said they would be happy to send out samples to people interested in trying or selling their product. I shot out an e-mail, and within the hour, I had heard from their sales department. They would have it out in the mail the next day.
And then we dined on United States Postal Service-fueled anticipation for the week until the box finally arrived last Thursday.
I just wanted to get all that out there, because I don’t want you to think I’m pandering to people who offered me up some free stuff. If their product tasted like powdered hell, I’d be the first to tell you. Hell. I’m still getting attacked for reviews I wrote almost a year ago. I’m not afraid of you internets.
I was really, really, *really* prepared to be disgusted by this. I was all set to come onto this page and declare that I found the most disgusting thing since Dorito’s “secret flavor” X-13D chips.
But holy hot damn, was I proven wrong. Be afraid Mrs. Dash, Bacon Salt is gunning for your position in the spice rack.
And I warn Mrs. Dash because ultimately, while there is salt in the Bacon Salt, there’s also plenty of other herbs and seasonings, making it more of a seasoning mix than traditional salt. On the plus side, a 1/4 teaspoon serving is only 6% of your daily sodium intake.
Created in 2007, and financed after one of the creators’ son won $5,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos, Bacon Salt hit the market in 3 flavors: Original, Hickory and Peppered.
(I’ll let you in on a little secret before I continue. The Original was actually the least favorite out of everyone who tried it the day I brought it into the office. It turns out that there wasn’t ENOUGH bacon flavor for everyone. The winner? Keep reading.)
NOTE – Katie withheld herself from the taste test because she thought the idea of Bacon Salt was truly disgusting, and was only more turned off by the smell.
- The Smell Test
The group of us trying these out, 6 of us in total, treated this like a very scientific wine tasting. We opened each canister and let the aroma hit us. The Original flavor was subtle, but present. The Hickory, however, blew everyone away. The smell filled the room (and stayed there) with the smell of freshly cooked bacon on a weekend morning. The Peppered is exactly what it claims- a slightly punched up, peppery version of the original. Winner of the smell test…Hickory.
- The Standalone Taste Test
Next up was the standalone taste test. We licked the back of our hands and sprinkled a little of each on to the wet skin. I don’t necessarily recommend doing this unless you’re either a professional, or someone who REALLY likes to smell like bacon. That stuff lingered, even after a couple washings. Hickory, by itself was a little TOO strong for the tongue, and Original was again to subtle. Winner of the standalone taste test…Peppered.
- The Fry Test
For the final bit of taste testing we went for the closest fast food we could find that would benefit from tasting more like bacon…McDonald’s French Fries. Again, I don’t recommend everyone doing this, because even three small French fries (and a Shamrock shake) ended up being my entire meal for the day. Apparently 3 IS the magic number if the magic number is the answer to the question “How many small bags of McDonald’s fries does it take to make you nauseas and pray for death?”
We laid out some paper towels, and dumped each bag into its own pile, generously sprinkling the Bacon Salt onto each pile. Behind the piles were placed the respective flavors so we couldn’t get them confused.
Not surprisingly, the natural fry flavor overpowered the Original, and the Peppered just added a nice little kick to the fries. But again, Hickory smoked (HAR!) the competition. Winner of the Fry Test…Hickory
For those of you playing at home the final tally was: Hickory – 2, Peppered – 1, Original – 0. In the case that Hickory cannot fulfill its duties as the best tasting the Bacon Salts, the duty will then pass onto Peppered.
Other things I can guarantee Hickory Bacon Salt tastes good on:
Vegan Chicken Soup!
Things that Jen swears it also tastes good on:
I cannot vouch for these things, only because I refuse to try bacon grapes. I will try many a thing, but not bacon grapes. NOT BACON GRAPES!
In summation, and in conclusion, Hickory Bacon Salt. It’s effin’ awesome.
As an added bonus to my dozens and dozens of readers, I will be giving away the Bacon Salt drink cozy to a lucky winner this Friday. You have until Friday to answer this ridiculously easy question: What is the name of the Bacon Salt Facebook group?
Just send the correct answer to twobitesinsuburbia at gmail dot com by Thursday at midnight (central). I’ll announce the winner on Friday and contact them for their mailing information.