As if it wasn’t already delicious enough on its own, bacon can be elevated to an even higher plane of gustatory delight when given a light shellacking with Spiker’s Shrubs. Unlike many of the glazed bacon recipes you’ll find online, our instructions allow the wonderful smoky/salty flavor of the bacon to shine through, rather than burying it in a goo of brown sugar.
Spiker’s Shrubs impart a gentle fruity-tart note with just enough sweetness to transform the bacon in both taste and texture. The shrub glaze adds moisture to the bacon while it bakes, preventing it from curling into a twisted tangle. It also keeps the strips supple enough to serve hours after preparing.
What can you do with shrub-glazed bacon (other than devour it immediately)? Use it on sandwiches, soups, salads. Cut the bacon strips into squares and add shredded apple and a little cube of cheddar (or try melon and crumbled feta, blue, or chevre). Cut it into tiny dice and savor with a bite of extra-dark chocolate. Oh…and a little bit sprinkled over vanilla ice cream won’t kill you, either.
Preheat oven to 400F. Put the oven shelf in the center position. Place a slotted broiler pan or an oven-proof rack (the kind you use for cooling cookies) on a large rimmed baking sheet. For easier clean-up, line the pan with aluminum foil. Use enough foil to go up the sides of the pan to prevent the grease from leaking.
Place the shrub in an 8-ounce Pyrex measuring cup or a Mason jar with measurement lines. Microwave at 70% for 2 minutes. Stir. Then cook on high for 2 minutes or until the shrub has reduced to one ounce. (Microwave cooking times vary so cook for more or less time depending on your oven's power.) If you don't want to use the microwave, you can also reduce the shrub in a small saucepan over medium stove-top heat. However, the microwave and clear glass method makes it easier to see when you have reduced the shrub by half.)
Stir in the bitters and/or any extra flavorings you are using (see note below) into the shrub after removing it from the microwave. Set aside to cool. The shrub will thicken as it cools. It will be the consistency of a thin syrup.
Lay bacon strips on the broiler pan or rack (bacon baked on a rack will be crispier) and bake for 7-10 minutes (10-12 minutes for thick-cut bacon), checking frequently to be sure the bacon doesn't burn.
Remove the pan from the oven, drain off fat, and brush some shrub glaze on each strip of bacon. Sprinkle with coarsely ground black pepper (to taste) and return the bacon to the oven for 1-2 minutes (4-6 minutes for thick-cut bacon).
Remove from oven again, turn the bacon over and glaze again. Bake another 1-3 minutes (or until deep golden or russet-colored and evenly cooked.
Move the bacon strips to a sheet of parchment paper or a Silpat to cool. (Don't drain on paper towels!) Eat warm or at room temperature. Wrap leftovers (if you have any) in foil and use for future nibbling.
Want to have some fun? After you have become comfortable with the basic master recipe, try these variations:
Savory: Swirl any of these spices to swirl into the shrub after it has reduced: