In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - Bacon Freak: 50 Savory Recipes for the Ultimate Enthusiast

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Mar 3, 2017 9:00 AM
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Bacon Freak: 50 Savory Recipes for the Ultimate Enthusiast, by Rocco Loosbrock, Sara Lewis and Dawn Hubbard.  Copyright © 2016.  Published by Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Bill Milne.

Our Summary:

If you subscribe to the belief that bacon makes everything better it is fair to say you'll find the ideas and recipes in Bacon Freak worth more than a passing glance.  Authors Rocco Loosbrock, Sara Lewis and Dawn Hubbard demonstrate that the smoky aroma, crispy texture and savory taste is a logical and sometimes inspired addition to many of our home-style favorite recipes.  Complete with bacon basics, wine and beer pairings, and even a chapter on where to meet up with bacon lovers at home and abroad, Bacon Freak makes you glad you're bringing home the bacon.

What you need to know:

Get itBacon Freak: 50 Savory Recipes for the Ultimate Enthusiast, by Rocco Loosbrock, Sara Lewis and Dawn Hubbard.  Photographs by Bill Milne. Published by Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. November 8, 2016.  Hardcover, $19.95 (Amazon $18.40; Kindle Not Available)

See it:  180 pages with color photos of about every second or third recipe.  A well-curated table of contents including chapters on bacon basics, mains and sides, and beer and wine pairings

Make it:  50 recipes, ranked on a scale of difficulty from one (Bacon Apple Cider) to five (Bacon-Wrapped Fried Ravioli) bacon strips, with a few variations and component recipes.  Most have drink pairings. To hear more about our community's experiences with recipes from this cookbook, please tune in to Now That's a Mouthful - WITF's food and cooking podcast.

Our Review:

Who hasn't dragged their breakfast bacon through a puddle of maple syrup and enjoyed the unctuously-savory, sweetly-decadent result?  Who hasn't crumbled bacon into salads or onto deviled eggs, or wrapped some bread around a slice or two and called it lunch?  Cooking with bacon isn't a new concept.  But authors Rocco Loosbrock, Sara Lewis and Dawn Hubbard in Bacon Freak treat bacon as an ingredient to be added to the regular line up in many of our most beloved home-style cooking. 

Flipping through the book it's easy to think that Bacon Freak is little more than campy fun, complete with whip-stitched recipe borders and cartoon-like pig faces though out.  The first 4 introductory pages - were you to stop there - would confirm your belief as the authors espouse with great enthusiasm their love for bacon.  But flip the page to "Bacon 101" or have a gander at the recipes, and you realize these folks are pretty much the real deal and have figured out how to improve the taste of everything you want to make- and eat- at home... with bacon!

Starting with the (almost) obligatory chapter on brunch, you can experience Boozy Candied Bacon in your favorite flavors like bourbon or margarita.  Pancakes, burritos, crepes and waffles seem sort of obvious, but the Bacon Orange Marmalade Champagne Muffins make you stop long enough to realize the genius isn't in the muffin recipe but, rather, the Bacon Orange Marmalade recipe. 

The further in you go, the more sophisticated these authors get.  The Bacon-Wrapped Fried Ravioli not only include suggestions for making them a main course entrée (with a pesto or brown butter sauce...) but further adds a nice Sangiovese or Montepulciano is what this dish really needs.  While the recipes seem to flip flop between classic street foods (Chipotle Bacon Street Tacos, Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Meatballs, or Bacon Basil Chicken Spiedini) and home-style classics (Bourbon and Bacon Sweet Potatoes, Bacon Shepherd's Pie or Bacon Beer Stew), there's never the suggestion that these recipes aren't fit for entertaining your best guests.  And if it's the gourmet element that you're looking for, you'll find it in Bacon Blackberry Goat Cheese Sliders or the Bacon-Wrapped Maple Brie Cheese, complete with a stunning bacon basket-weave topping.

You're never left guessing in Bacon Freak, which is nice.  From the recommended type, style and flavor of bacon, to the level of difficulty, to the times to prep, cook and finish the recipe, there's not much you're left to wonder as you cook your way through these recipes.  Not even what to have for dessert!  With 13 crazy-enticing combinations, including one dessert martini, even the most reticent of sweet eaters will find the combinations irresistible.  Classic brownies, truffles, and bars, cobblers and bread puddings, with ice cream and doughnut holes for good measure.

In the end, it doesn't really matter who brings home the bacon, as long as whoever is doing the cooking has Bacon Freak as a guide.

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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