Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in my first cooking competition - The Bacon Takedown. Organized by Matt Timms of chilitakedown.com, this competition was part of a series of friendly amateur cooking competitions held around the United States. As it reads on Matt's website, "Self-taught cooks bring in their brilliant creations and compete for money, prizes, and self respect."
Not a great picture, but you can see me in action
When I heard the Bacon Takedown was coming to New Orleans, I knew immediately that I needed to enter. I had been playing around with the idea of making a bacon ice cream, and this competition gave me the extra push I needed to attempt it. Praline bacon is a regional delight that is often served along side breakfast in New Orleans. I decided to turn this New Orleans favorite into a flavorful ice cream!
I loved the results! Creamy and sweet ice cream with the flavor of gently caramelized sugar along with the salty and crunchy goodness of praline bacon. A match made in heaven. Unfortunately I did not win any prizes in the Bacon Takedown, but it was a very fun experience and I hope to enter again next year. I also received a lot of great feedback about the ice cream so I still think it was a win for me.
Would you like some FREE bacon so you can try the recipe yourself? Leave a comment below telling me how your will use your free bacon and you will be entered to win 10 pounds of bacon and an official Bacon Takedown apron (like mine in the picture), courtesy of Hormel. Yes, you read correctly...10 pounds of bacon!!
Here are the rules:
1) Leave a comment on THIS POST or via Twitter (@ScoopAdventurer) by 11:59 pm CDT Sunday, October 3, 2010. Please ensure that I can find your contact information. If I can't find you, then I will choose another winner.
2) One entry per person (duplicates will be deleted).
3) Participants must have a US shipping address.
4) The winner will be selected at random using a random number generator and announced on Tuesdsay, October 5, 2010.
Try this recipe for yourself and you may be surprised at how much you like this "unusual" ice cream. Enjoy!
6 slices of bacon
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, divided
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (11 g) cornstarch
1 ½ oz. cream cheese (3 Tablespoons), softened
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
2/3 cup (133 g) sugar
1/8 cup corn syrup (30 ml)
2 Tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To prepare praline bacon:
Preheat over to 425 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper. Place cooling rack on sheet pan. Evenly space bacon on rack. Cover each slice of bacon with 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar. Bake bacon for 12 minutes. Remove sheet pan from oven and flip over each piece of bacon and cover with remaining dark brown sugar (1 Tablespoon each). Return bacon to oven and bake until all sugar is melted and the bacon begins to crisp, about 12 minutes. Remove sheet pan from oven and let bacon cool on rack. Once cool, chop bacon into small pieces and set aside.
To prepare ice cream base:
Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth. Set a fine mesh sieve over the bowl and set aside.
Prepare and measure all other ingredients before beginning next step (melting sugar). Prepare milk mixture (combine remaining milk and heavy cream), measure corn syrup and set aside.
Place sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. When sugar begins to melt, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue heating until sugar melts completely and begins to caramelize (sugar does not require very much stirring but watch very carefully because sugar burns fast). Remove from heat just as sugar begins to smoke and quickly add milk mixture. Be careful - milk will bubble and spit when added to the hot sugar, this is normal. Sugar may harden when milk is poured over it but it will melt again once returned to heat.
Return milk and sugar mixture to medium heat and add corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a low boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes.
Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return to a boil and cook over medium heat until the mixture is slightly thickened (draw a line on a spoon), about 1 minute. Add bacon fat and stir until melted.
Gradually pour the hot milk mixture (through the sieve) into large bowl with cream cheese. Whisk until cream cheese is melted and combined. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cool, about 20 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and vanilla extract.
Chill the mixture thoroughly (at least 4 hours or overnight). Once chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is near completion of churning, add chopped bacon and continue churning until well combined. Place plastic or parchment over ice cream (to prevent ice crystals) and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.