International Bacon Day

Adapted from blog post at Short Orders from the Greensboro News & Record:

Bacon has a page on Facebook and its own holiday. Who knew?

To commemorate bacon and this holiday (the Saturday before Labor Day in the U.S.), Purina has teamed up with Kevin Gillespie, a "Top Chef" season 6 finalist.

“I’m a huge fan of the pig, and I’m crazy about bacon in particular, so I
couldn’t be more excited to be hosting this event with Beggin’,” said Gillespie,
who is currently the co-owner and executive chef at The Woodfire Grill in
Atlanta. “I’ll be sharing some of my favorite pork dishes with other
bacon-lovers and hope to inspire them to embrace pork within their own cooking.”

If you’re a foodie or a fan of reality TV drama, you may have seen Emmy award-winning show “Top Chef” which has been on-air since 2006.

I was in my first semester of culinary school when the show debuted. I watched the show in awe of how much I didn’t know about food. I’ve continued to sit through 5 more seasons, still in awe of the men and women who put themselves, their careers, and their personal integrities on the line for fame, recognition, and of course, money. In 7 seasons, southern chefs have been grossly underrepresented. All of this changed when Kevin Gillespie came along last season. The BBQ-loving, pork wielding, gravy thickening, crispy-skinned chef from Atlanta battled to the very end against the too-tough Brothers Karamazov Brothers Voltaggio.

Enjoy the video interview below and recipe, courtesy of Mr. Gillespie.

Spicy bacon popcorn

1/3 cup organic popping corn

3 T + 12g melted bacon fat

2 tsp espelette pepper

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 tsp popcorn salt

¼ C finely grated Parmesan

8g tapioca maltodextrin

Place three tablespoons of bacon fat in bottom of popcorn machine. Add popping corn and allow machine to run until the popping slows. Remove from the machine and toss in a mixing bowl with espelette, black pepper, salt, and parmesan. Mix remaining bacon fat with tapioca maltodextrin. Sprinkle bacon powder over popcorn and serve.

Nikki’s Notes:

If you don’t have a popcorn machine, you can do it the way Grandma did and use a pot on the stove.

Heat the bacon fat in a 3-quart pot on medium high heat. Put 2 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan. When the kernels pop, add the popping corn in an even layer. Cover. The popcorn should begin popping soon. Once the popping starts, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into your mixing bowl and continue with the rest of the recipe.

Espelette is a fancy, smoky pepper that originated in the Basque region of France. Paprika is a fine substitute. If you want to get fancy with the paprika, use smoked paprika, which is sometimes labeled “Hungarian” or “Hot”.

Tapioca maltodextrin may be hard to find, but tapioca starch or tapioca flour is another fine substitute. If you must, grind up some tapioca pearls in your food processor.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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