Praline Bacon


There are some places where I would rather not be in the heat of the summer. I can do without New York City in August. I’ve often said if I ever want to reinforce our decision to move out of the city, I just need to go there and ride the subway in August. Of course it’s not the actual subway ride that is intolerable (unless you jump in a car without AC. I learned that if there is an empty car during a busy time, there is probably a reason: a temperature malfunction, an especially odorous car or a loose critter). It’s waiting in the sauna heat with latrine smells that is the unpleasant part. I come home happy for a Hudson Valley breeze every time.

Louisiana is another place I don’t much care to go in the summer. But you don’t always get to choose when you go somewhere. Life with all its weddings and funerals often ignores the calendar. This past weekend we found ourselves, once again, in the Cajun capital of the world, Lafayette Louisiana. It’s not the first time we’ve been in Louisiana in July. My husband grew up there, so he is no stranger to the heat, but my first summer visit was a couple of years ago. I’ll just say that the giant hot-tub in the hotel’s courtyard was a pool during the cooler parts of the year.

We got lucky this time. It was in the low 90s with many thunderstorms to cool things down. The evenings were completely pleasant, but we still got a good dose of southern humid air. It is indeed thick enough to swim through.

Of course, I don’t go to Lafayette for the weather (unless I’m escaping the snow in February). Second to visiting friends and family, I go for the food.

As with most of my trips, I plan it around food. We went directly from the airport to Olde Tyme Grocery for po-boys. It’s always a toss up on whether to get the roast beef or the shrimp, which means we often get both.

My favorite meal of the trip was brunch at French Press on East Vermilion Street. I can’t stop thinking about the order of Sweet Baby Breesus: three buttermilk biscuit sliders with bacon, fried Boudin balls and Steen’s Cane Syrup.

This dish contains two things you never see up north: Boudin and Steen’s Cane Syrup.

Boudin (pronounced BOO-dan) is a soft, spicy sausage made with pork, pork liver, rice and various spices. It usually comes in a pale sausage casing and is steamed. It’s not much to look at but is certainly tasty and very Cajun. It’s on my list of things to learn how to make.

Steen’s Cane Syrup is made from the sugar cane harvested in the fields of south Louisiana. The syrup is amber in color, sweet with a slight grassy taste and a hint of salt. It is delicious on hot buttered biscuits, can be used instead of corn syrup in a pecan pie and is also my husband’s secret ingredient in his margaritas.

When we fly back from Lafayette, Steen’s is the reason we check a bag rather than take a carry-on. The 16-ounce jar of syrup doesn’t make the TSA’s 3.4 ounce cut off limit.

Packing glass jars of syrup does make me a little nervous, but I feel it is worth the potential sticky mess!

Praline Bacon

If you are going to plan dinner around praline bacon, you might as well throw your hands up, forget healthy eating for a meal and whip up buttermilk biscuits topped with lots of melted butter and Steen’s Cane Syrup to go with it. That is exactly what we did.

1⁄2 pound thick cut bacon (from your local farmer)
2 tablespoon Steen’s Cane Syrup (substitute molasses or dark maple syrup)
1⁄4 cup coconut palm sugar (substitute brown sugar)
1⁄2 cup pecans, toasted
dash of cayenne pepper

-Preheat oven to 400°.

-Place a wire rack on a baking sheet with sides. Place bacon in a single layer on a rack and bake for 12-15 minutes or until it just begins to start to turn brown around the edges.

-Coarsely chop the pecans and combine with sugar and cayenne. You can do this by hand or use a food processor.

-Remove the bacon pan from the oven. Brush each slice with the cane syrup. Cover with the pecan/sugar mixture.

-Place back in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the topping is bubbly and the bacon is crisp. Let cool.

Serves 2-4 as a side.