I decided to try my hand at making the bacon seasoning recipe from Todd’s Kitchen on YouTube. This was for several reasons, chief among them being that I have great love for bacon. A few years ago I ordered a sampler of JD Bacon Salt off of Amazon, and discovered the stuff not only had no bacon in it at all, but it tasted absolutely nothing like bacon. (Top ingredients: onion, garlic, and paprika. It might make a dandy barbecue rub, but it ain’t bacony. I was righteously pissed.) This stuff, however, is made from bacon.
His recipe is so ridiculously simple I can explain it here (but go watch his channel anyway, because it’s awesome): Put down some parchment paper on a cookie sheet, lay down five strips of bacon, bake it for 20-25 minutes at 350° till it’s very very done but not burned, then set the bacon on paper towels and lay some more paper towels on top. Let the excess grease soak up for about 3 hours. Then break up the bacon and put it in a blender (glass, not plastic) till it’s a paste-like consistency, add about half a cup of salt and add pepper to taste, and blend further till it’s very fine. Supposedly it will keep in the pantry for a few months.
I learned two things right away:
- Put down some foil underneath the parchment paper; the grease will soak right through it.
- A coffee grinder is not an appropriate substitute for a blender; it works (for half a batch), but it’s nowhere near as easy to clean.
I made this without using pepper. I didn’t feel it was necessary. The bacon took 25 minutes to reach the desired state.
The resulting seasoning is slightly clumpy, not fine granules like proper salt, so it won’t come out of a shaker very well. The consistency is very much like damp sand. I also found that the fat content was high enough that I don’t feel entirely comfortable with this sitting out, so I put it in the fridge. This may be because I used slightly fattier bacon, or it may be just how this recipe works. After a little while in the fridge I noticed it actually seemed a little clumpier.
Bacon seasoning is salty. In fact when you get right down to it it’s mostly the salt you put in. I figured this was necessary to 1) make it less pasty and 2) absorb excess moisture so it will keep longer. (I used kosher salt.) In the second half of the batch I tried to use half as much salt at first just to see how it would work out, but it didn’t end up a good consistency and needed the rest. There may be no easy way of getting around the extra saltiness, which means this only works well as a salt substitute rather than, say, sprinkling it on potato chips—unless they’re homemade chips. I look forward to trying it on a steak sometime, as a pre-cook rub. It should work well with burgers too, and I bet it’ll be great on fries. And popcorn.
(Would corn starch help cut the salt? Or flour? Food for thought. Making my own cheddar powder would probably work too. Or I could just buy some; it’s incredibly easy to find online.)
It occurred to me after making this that a possible improvement, for longevity and for increasing the range of applications, might be to return the first-stage blended bacon to the oven. If you spread out the ground-up bacon on a new sheet of parchment paper, and let it go in the oven at, say, 200° for a while, I suspect that low heat will finish the job of removing moisture and allow for much finer blending without needing to add nearly as much salt. I may try this next time. I may also try doing this with my existing seasoning just to see if I can improve its sprinklability.
The bacon itself came out of the oven in a beautiful state. My wife likes it crispy and very done, so this would have been the perfect bacon for her. The downside is you can’t really fit many pieces of it on a cookie sheet; baking bacon takes a lot more room than frying it.
Final result: I like this stuff, but wish it was more bacon and less salt so I could use it on a bowl of chips. It was easy enough to make that I want to try it again sometime, albeit with a real blender, and experiment with options for improving the bacon-to-salt ratio. And I kind of want to try this with cheese powder as well, because frankly I can’t think of many applications for bacon seasoning where I wouldn’t also enjoy cheese.