Bacon and Eggs: 4 Ways

You really don't have to do much with bacon and eggs to make them one of the best meals on earth. However, after a farmer friend of mine recently brought over dozens of fresh brown eggs and thickly sliced bacon, I realized that I was going to have a get a little creative if I wanted to finish all this food while still being able to look at bacon and eggs. My week of cooking led me to the following four recipes. Read on, but please try not to drool directly onto your keyboard.

Cheddar Cheese Pancakes with Bacon This is my special "I'm starting the day off right, damn it" breakfast. The combination of the salty bacon, the savory pancakes, and the sticky-sweet syrup is heavenly. Begin by browning the bacon on a griddle until it is perfectly crisp. Meanwhile, prepare your favorite basic pancake recipe, adding in ½ cup of extra sharp cheddar cheese and ¼ cup crumbled cornflake shards per cup of pancake batter. Remove the bacon, drain on paper towels, and fry the pancakes directly in the bacon grease. The pancakes take on a fatty greasiness that goes so well with the crunchy cornflake and flavorful cheesy bites. Drizzle the whole thing with ample amounts of warm syrup. Healthy? No. But for special occasions, it's tops.

Pasta alla Carbonara I'm not sure why this decadently perfect pasta dish often gets overlooked. It's a snap to make and never leaves leftovers. I prefer it with an absorbent noodle like bucatini. Boil the bucatini until al dente. In another large pan that will fit the pasta later, cook one package of chopped bacon bits in a drizzle of olive oil until crispy but not crunchy. Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup white wine. Remove from heat. In another bowl, beat together four eggs, ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, ¼ cup heavy cream, and a grind of pepper. When the pasta is done, remove about ½ cup of the pasta water before draining. Put the pan with the bacon pieces back on the heat and add the drained pasta, tossing to coat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture. Thin with pasta water, if needed. Finish it by grinding fresh pepper and nutmeg over top.

Spinach Salad This is a classic dish, but the addition of crumbled bacon and hardboiled eggs makes it filling enough to work as a standalone meal. Cook the bacon until crisp, crumble into large chunks, and set aside. Place the eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, and boil uncovered for three minutes before removing from heat, covering, and steaming for eight minutes. Immediately submerge in cold water. Chop the eggs when cool enough to handle. Fill a bowl with torn spinach leaves, added in sliced mushrooms, cucumbers, diced tomatoes, and rings of spicy red onion for crunch. Add in your bacon and eggs and top with chunky blue cheese dressing.

Bacon and Egg Tart This is probably the easiest and yet most glamorous of all the dishes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw out a sheet of puff pastry and press onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Spread crème fraiche to within ½ inch of the sides of the dough. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Carefully crack four eggs (one in each corner) directly onto the tart. Lay four cooked pieces of bacon in attractive crisscross patterns on the tart. Brush pastry edges with egg wash and then bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the eggs are set. Sprinkle with fresh minced thyme before serving. Brunch never looked or tasted so good.

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Geri Maria Harris