So… bacon is a pretty big deal.  Wikipedia even has an article on “bacon mania.”  For me, I’m not like, obsessed with bacon, but I won’t deny its awesome smoky power.

So of course, a year or so ago, when I went out drinking with some friends and was introduced to the concept of bacon and maple nuts, I was hooked and immediately needed to reverse-engineer it.  It’s sweet, smoky, crunchy, and… just… okay, so it’s really bad for you, but it’s just one of my favorite snacks to make.  So it’s probably a good thing I don’t actually really like working with raw bacon, so I don’t make this very often.

Anyway, I recently made a pretty big batch for a party, and had a whole bunch of people fall in love with me, so I figured I would share my incredibly imprecise recipe.  Because, really, maple and bacon, how can you go wrong?

The goods:

10 oz applewood smoked bacon

2ish lbs nuts (I like a mix of cashews and brazil nuts, but you can go with you favorite kind.)

ground mustard

ground cumin

salt, pepper

paprika, ground cayenne

real maple syrup.  I’m serious.  If you get “maple flavored pancake syrup” or something like that, it’s just not going to be very good.

The method:

Crank your stove to medium-ish and stick your favorite large skillet on.  I like using a nonstick skillet because really, who enjoys scraping burnt bacon bits off of pans?

Dice up your bacon and drop it in the pan.  It should sizzle but not go crazy.

Render your bacon until it’s nice and crispy.  (And by render, I mean cook gently to melt away all the fat and leave you with beautiful crispy bacon bits)

Remove your bacon to a paper-lined plate.  Pour off some of the bacon fat if you like; just make sure you’ve got a couple good tablespoons left in the pan to work with.

Add your nuts to the hot bacon fat, return the pan to the heat.  Toast nuts for a few minutes.  Add salt, pepper, cumin, mustard, paprika (didn’t really measure, a pinch or a couple dashes of each), and a dash of cayenne.  Toss to evenly coat, and keep your nuts moving as they cook until crunchy and fragrant.

Return bacon to skillet.  Pour in several tablespoons of maple syrup.  Toss to coat.  Cook until most of the syrup has reduced away.

Turn the whole mess out onto a parchment-lined sheet pan.  Taste a nut.  If it’s still a little raw, throw the whole pan into a 350-degree oven for no more than 10 minutes. (And keep an eye on them, nuts go from toasty to burned in a blink of an eye)

Once cool, dig right in!  If you’re spot-on, you’ll have a lovely brittle.  If you’re a little undercooked like my most recent batch was, then it’s still tasty, but the nuts are a bit gooey and stick together.  It’ll dry itself out if left uncovered overnight (if it lasts that long) or you can just gently keep toasting in the oven until you get brittle.

Experiment and play, but most of all, enjoy your bacon-y, maple-y, nutty goodness.  I did. =)