Sweet, spicy, salty…..this is bacon like you’ve never tasted before. Sweet and Spicy Candied Bacon, also known as Millionaire’s Bacon, is a decadent treat you won’t be able to put down. Hands down, the best bacon ever with it’s crispy, sweet and slightly spicy coating…it’s a wonderful surprise at any dinner party and makes a great holiday gift.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Smithfield Foods. All opinions, statements, support and love for bacon are all my own. 🙂
It’s no secret that I love pork products…especially bacon. We eat bacon almost everyday here…besides coffee, it’s the only way to start the day…in my opinion (see above disclaimer). Ham comes in at a close second with eggs, bagels and pancakes a very distant tie for third place. So, I was beyond excited when Smithfield asked me to join them at their smokehouse for two whole days to learn all about their products and how they process their products. Not only was I getting away for two blissfully peaceful days without my crazy loud family….I was going to spend my two blissfully peaceful days stuffing my face with ham and bacon. I couldn’t get on the plane fast enough!
Once I finally arrived in Smithfield, Virginia, I was immediately sucked into the small town vibe. Imagine all the movies you’ve ever seen in your life that have a “Main Street, USA” feel…..then infuse with the smell of bacon and a hint of salty air….that’s Smithfield. Everything about this town is quaint, quiet and totally where you would want to raise your gaggle of children. We were treated to a historic walking tour of the town and learned about how the town was founded, the dirty little secrets hidden behind all the gorgeous homes (lots of gossip back in the day….lucky for them, social media didn’t exist!) and how the waterfront location helped to shape the industry allowing the town to become what it is today. I was moving here….totally…I found a house, looked it up and sent it to my husband.
The first day, we checked into the super quaint Smithfield Inn. If you ever take a trip to visit Smithfield and really want to get a sense of the history….stay here. But be warned, by 9:30…the bar was closed and the place was a ghost town. I’m not kidding…and even if you had a bottle of wine in your room, there wasn’t anyone around to help a woman out and open it for her. So….you may have to walk down the street to the only bar in town….which was ALSO closing up before 10:00 PM and “rent” a corkscrew to open your bottle of wine. This may or may not be a true story. Oh….and it was raining cats and dogs, hypothetically. Of course.
Be sure to visit Taste of Smithfield, this small country store is completely awesome and has some great food gifts. It also houses a restaurant where you can order a huge sampling of pork in every shape and form. My favorite were these crispy pork skins (I think that’s what it was), they’re more addicting than potato chips and you can totally eat the whole plate in 10 seconds flat…if you’re not trying to be all professional. I also loved the ham rolls…the perfect amount of country ham on a soft sweet potato bun. After lunch, we took a tour of the smokehouse….the very same smokehouse that they’ve been using since the very beginning. It was dark, wooden and the perfect backdrop for a scary movie…and it was filled to the brim with ham. Floor to ceiling, like several stories high. It was glorious. Later that evening we were whisked away to a small waterfront farm for a pig roast and wine tasting. It was amazing…ahhhhmazing. I mean how often to you get to attend a pig roast hosted by Smithfield Foods…..the leader in all pork products. I’m one lucky dog.
On my last day, we were taken to the Smithfield Innovation Center where they create all those amazing flavored hams, pork loins, sausages, you name it. It’s all concocted, tested and produced right there. We were told we were going to play something called the “Pig Puzzle” but I must have gotten that confused because the “Pig Puzzle” was actually a lesson in butchering a pig. Which is cool…but I was thinking jigsaw…not saw/saw. I learned everything there is to know about pig parts…..and they really do use everything but the oink. Not necessarily for human consumption but the parts we don’t eat definitely get put to good use. But that bacon….
Let’s get to the bacon…because that’s why you’re all here. I always wanted to try my hand at candied bacon, I saw it on a travel show once and have been dreaming of it ever since. The version I saw was spicy, sweet and salty. My idea of the perfect food. It turns out…it’s sooooo easy to make, you just need to make sure you use a thick cut bacon like Smithfield Thick Cut bacon that comes in a resealable package. The thicker cut will take longer to cook giving the sugar time to melt down and caramelize before the bacon burns.
You’re going to lay all the bacon across a wire rack, I used my cookie cooking rack, on a foil lined baking sheet. Be sure to line your baking sheet with foil for easy clean up! Then sprinkle your bacon with a healthy dose of pepper, pepper and more pepper before blanketing with brown sugar. Bake. Cool. Crunch.
This Sweet and Spicy Candied Bacon (Millionaire’s Bacon) is the best thing since…well, regular bacon. I, really, didn’t think bacon could get any better but it can…and it did. And this should go on everything you make like this crazy amazing salad or in this soup. OR you can make a batch to give to friends and family for gifts this year…and they’ll think you are the best thing since….bacon!
- 1 pound thick cut bacon
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place a wire rack on a foil lined baking sheet. Arrange the bacon on the wire rack and sprinkle with the cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Lightly pat the brown sugar on top of the bacon to create a thin layer.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the brown sugar has melted and the bacon is crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the bacon to a parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.