by Amelia Levin - 10 Reviews - 11 List
No doubt about it: Pork is the new black. On every menu in town, it's pork belly this, pork shoulder that. But don't forget about the classic: bacon. A couple of crispy slices make great friends for eggs at breakfast, and a BLT just wouldn't be the same without it. But you're not satisfied with the standards. You want more. Try a full day's lineup of inventive bacon dishes from restaurants around Chicago, featuring that smoky swine goodness we just can't get enough of. (Photo of The Violet Hour's Fried Peanut Butter Banana Bites with Bacon by Emilie Zanger)
Updated: October 22, 2009
DESSERT: Bacon makes some sweet new friends in fried peanut butter banana bites. Roasted bananas are pureed with wildflower honey, peanut butter and cream, then cooled, cut into cubes and fried until crisp and golden. At plating, just to gild the lily, the nuggets get another drizzle of honey, as well as a shower of smoky bacon bits. What else would you expect from a bar with a bacon-tattooed chef?
ENTREE: Meatloaf, shmeatloaf. Sound too boring? Try this on for swine: Locally produced, all-natural ground beef is hand-mixed with herbs and spices and wrapped in thinly sliced bacon. As it bakes, the pork drippings seep into the meat, and a quick broil at the end crisps up the loaf. It is then dressed with veal demi-glace and set atop Yukon gold mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.
APPETIZER: Think duck pate is rich enough? Try wrapping it in bacon. Cooked local duck gets mixed with pork fat, herbs and spices, then wrapped in house-made pancetta made from pork belly cured with salt, juniper, coriander, bay leaves and chili flakes. After baking slowly in a water bath, the pate is chilled overnight--et voila!--the delicacy is sliced and served with a small salad of arugula, strawberries, pine nuts and truffle oil.
SALAD: How about a BLT, sans the bread? In this salad version, vine-ripened tomatoes are sliced, sprinkled with sea salt and topped with a crisp piece of bacon formed into a disc. Bread crumbs, pan-fried in bacon drippings, add a buttery crunch to the mix of fresh herbs and frisee drizzled with basil mayo.
BRUNCH: Love bacon and eggs? Check. Love cheddar? Check. Love lasagna? Now you're talking. Kick that hangover's butt with this breakfast lasagna packed with thick-cut maple bacon, cheddar and caramelized onions layered between thinly sliced potatoes and topped with more melted cheese, plus two eggs however you like 'em. Still pork-hungry? You champ. Try the all-you-can eat bacon platter during brunch hours, Friday through Sunday from 10am to 3pm.