Earlier this week I was editing a food story on bacon butter pizza that simultaneously repulsed yet captivated me. I wasn’t really interested in the 1,000- calories-a-serving “meat candy” pie, but I was tempted to try to streamline it.
Fast-forward to Thursday afternoon. The kids, out of school for fall break, are cavorting with their cousins at Grandma’s. I mention my bacon pizza experiment as a possible appetizer, which reminds my sister-in-law Dawn of billionaire’s bacon, a trendy dish recently sampled at her New York-dwelling niece’s wedding shower.
Both dishes are unbelievably decadent treatments of the sweet-and-salty taste trend, so we decide to combine them into one pizza, along with a diet version.
For the decadent version:
Dawn dredged strips of raw bacon in a plate of brown sugar, then laid them on a rimmed baking sheet and put them in the oven for 15 minutes, turning them once halfway through. The recipe called for 1 ½ cups of sugar on 12 ounces of bacon; she didn‘t measure hers out, but she used plenty.
We took the bacon out to cool, then cut it up onto two 12-inch pre-made pizza crusts that we’d smeared with real butter and sprinkled with 4 ounces of shredded mozzarella each. (No sauce was needed. The bacon “syrup” was sufficient.) Finally we topped both pizzas with slices of fresh mozzarella, again 4 ounces each.
So was it good — or gross?
“Mmmm,” said my nephew Max, who got the first piece.
“This is amazing!” said Riley, sentiments echoed by all the cousins except Colleen, the only vegetarian in the house, and Grandpa, who’s queasy about meat with any signs of fat or gristle showing. (I share this aversion, but forced myself to try it anyway. And I have to say, it was better than I expected.)
“I figured it would be good,” said Dawn. “But I didn‘t expect it to be that good.”
The Lite Version
My original idea for a streamlined version was to take my “diet elephant ear” recipe — basically, a tablespoon each of low-cal margarine and brown sugar baked on whole wheat pita bread — and add mozzarella and turkey bacon. This would’ve turned a 6-point personal pizza into a 9-pointer with 1 ounce of turkey bacon, or a 10-pointer with 2 ounces.
I couldn’t find any pita bread, so we used the same prepared pizza crust for the diet version. Instead of real butter I spread reduced fat Country Crock on the crust, and I used 3 T. of brown sugar on 12 ounces of turkey bacon instead of the 1 ½ cups used in the decadent version. We used the same amount of cheese: 4 ounces shredded and 4 ounces fresh mozzarella.
If I had it to do over, I would’ve just sprinkled brown sugar over the Country Crock rather than trying to put the sugar on the turkey bacon; without all that grease, it didn’t stick very well.
In terms of the taste test, just about everybody preferred the decadent version. But even Ben was willing to admit that the lite pizza was perfectly acceptable if it hadn’t had the misfortune of hanging out with such rich neighbors.
The bigger question is whether I’d ever make this again. It’s plenty messy, so I was glad to do it in a kitchen full of helpers. But the bigger issue is just … why? As a weird food stunt, it was kind of amusing. But I see this craving as a one time thing that isn’t likely to haunt me now that my curiosity’s been satiated. Next time I’ve got a cute little ball of fresh mozzarella, I’m gonna slice it up with garden tomatoes instead of bacon.