In northeastern North Carolina some foods are considered seasonal while others are considered staples. Blessedly available year round, salted pork in the form of bacon can be found in most local refrigerators and markets and for that simple gift most of us are eternally thankful.
From breakfast basics to pork belly tacos, bacon can be found on the Outer Banks in both traditional fare and as a novelty ingredient. Here’s how you can enjoy bacon all day long on the Outer Banks.
Start your day with a Maple and Bacon Donut from Duck Donuts’ locations in Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk or Duck. For locations go to duckdonuts.com.
Or try a Three Little Piggies breakfast sandwich with a side of bacon at Cravings in the town of Duck. This is a soft roll filled with generous amounts of smoked ham and pulled pork topped with bacon, egg and cheese; be sure to add a side of bacon. Cravings, 1209 Duck Rd., Duck.
Segue into lunch with blackened bacon at The Dunes Restaurant in Nags Head, where they serve up a super-tasty grilled, ground-chuck sandwich, topped with homemade pimento cheese and blackened bacon on a toasted brioche bun. The Dunes, 7013 S. Croatan Hwy., Nags Head. 252 441-1600; thedunesrestaurant.com
For snack attacks, chocolate-dipped bacon is available at Forbes Candy Shop. You’ll find whole strips of bacon wrapped in milk chocolate for a salty-sweet treat. Forbes, 6321 S. Croatan Hwy., Nags Head, 252-441-7293; and Waves Village, 24502 N.C. Hwy. 12, Rodanthe, 252-987-2320; forbescandies.com
Or head to Outer Banks Popcorn Shoppe for Bacon and Cheese Popcorn (or any of their other addictive flavors). Timbuck II Shopping Center, 799 Sunset Blvd., Corolla or Scarborough Lane Shoppes, 1171 Duck Rd., Duck. 252-255-4000; outerbankspopcornshoppe.com
When it comes to pork for breakfast for dinner there is no better place to shop for freshly butchered swine than Weeping Radish Farm Brewery in Grandy. While I sing their praises often, it is because they truly provide a clean, lean, humanely treated, meat product, bacon included. Weeping Radish Restaurant and Brewery, 6810 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy. 252-491-5205; weepingradish.com
Bacon, The Book
North Carolina food writer Fred Thompson’s latest cookbook, Bacon, is part of the Savor the South series from UNC Press. If you are ready to learn a few new recipes and tricks of the trade, you might want to meet the man who wrote the book. He will be in our area this week to celebrate the release of his Bacon.
“This diminutive tome is HUGE on flavor, single minded in focus and includes a wide variety of bacon-based dishes – bacon mayonnaise to pig candy and bacon brownies,” says Jamie Hope Anderson, owner Downtown Books, which is sponsoring Thompson’s visit to Manteo on September 2.
Thompson is a true Renaissance man and would rather be standing beside a grill than most anywhere. Born in North Carolina (’cue country) and now living in Raleigh, he graduated from N.C. State University, with post-graduate studies at Duke University and culinary training at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY, and St. Helena, CA. He is a well-known cookbook author and editor of Edible Piedmont magazine. His most recent cookbook is the incredible Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides: 250 Dishes That Really Make the Plate! He has also written for Fine Cooking Magazine, Wine and Spirits Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle Magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Taste of the South and the San Francisco Chronicle, to mention a few.
“If you haven’t met (or read) Thompson, now is your chance to pick up his about-to-be-released book,” says Anderson.
Thompson will be in Manteo on Friday, September 2 for First Friday in Downtown Manteo. Come sample recipes from his book prepared by Ortega’z Southwestern Grill and me, Amy Gaw. Food will be paired with beer tastings from Manteo’s own Lost Colony Brewery. Meet the author and get a signed copy of Bacon before it goes on sale anywhere else.
Meet the Author
Fred Thompson, author of Bacon
WHEN: Friday, September 2, 6 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Old Tom Street, in the alley next to Ortega’z, 201 Sir Walter Raleigh St., Manteo
Salted Caramel Bacon Brownies
From BACON: a Savor the South®cookbook by Fred Thompson. Copyright © 2016 by Fred Thompson. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu
Makes 16 brownies
For the filling
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons bacon drippings (or, if you prefer less bacon flavor, use just 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter)
1/4 cup heavy cream
For the brownies
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6–8 slices Pig Candy, cut in 1/2- to 1-inch pieces (see below)
Preheat the oven to 325°. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with foil. Coat the foil with butter.
To make the caramel filling, heat the sugar in a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom, stirring constantly. The sugar will lump and then melt to a deep golden brown. Watch carefully—sugar burns easily. Add the bacon drippings and the butter, if using, and stir vigorously. Remove from the heat and drizzle in the cream carefully (it will steam and bubble), beating rapidly to mix. When the mixture is smooth and the bubbling has calmed, set it aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
To make the brownies, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Melt the butter, pour it over the mixture, and stir until well blended. Add the vanilla and eggs, and stir. Then stir in the flour just until blended; the batter will be very thick.
Spread half of the brownie batter in the pan. Top with all but 1 tablespoon of the caramel and spread evenly over the brownie layer. Use a spoon to drop the remaining brownie batter gently onto the caramel. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread the batter over the caramel.
Bake for 30–35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted is almost clean when removed. Remove from oven. Drizzle the reserved caramel over the brownies. Place the pig candy gently on top of the brownies and return the pan to the oven for 3–5 minutes to set.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Lift the foil from the pan and place on a cooling rack to
cool completely. Cut into small squares.
16 slices (about 1 pound) bacon, the best quality you can find
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, or more if you like
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, or more if you like
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two 10 × 15-inch rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and place a wire rack on top of each sheet (if you skip this step, you will be cleaning the pans into the next decade). Arrange the bacon in a single layer on the two racks. Sprinkle evenly with the pepper and brown sugar.
Bake until the bacon is crisp and browned, rotating the sheet pans in the oven halfway through the process. Some people turn the bacon, but I don’t; it’s too much trouble for too little result. Move it from the racks onto a plate and pat lightly with a paper towel to remove any remaining grease. Serve hot or at room temperature. You can make this several hours in advance, and keep at room temperature. I have never tried making it a day ahead.