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Friday, September 3, 2010

International Bacon Day with Top Chef's Kevin Gillespie

Bacon has its own holiday?

Yup, September 4, 2010 is International Bacon Day. It was apparently devised by some college students in Colorado in 2004 (according to the all knowing tome of know-it-all Wikipedia) and its spread like wildfire ... or hot bacon grease across the globe.

What exactly are you supposed to do on IBD, just eat bacon.

Purina, the creator of Beggin' Strips is hosting The Beggin' Bacon Bash this Saturday in Cincinati, Ohio and picked bacon aficionado and Top Chef Season Six fan favorite, Chef Kevin Gillespie as its spokesperson. Gillespie is the Executive Chef of Woodfire Grill here in Atlanta and keeps some variation of the our favorite food on the menu.

It seems that Gillespie's choice in sponsors ruffled some feathers though. Yesterday eater.com posted a spicy little rant about Kevin hawking dog food. Granted, it feels a little left field-ish for him to promoting an event from a pet food manufacturer, but really, the mighty fallen? I say let Kevin's food speak for him, and more importantly - let the man make his bacon ... and by that, I mean money.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Kevin via Skype about the Bacon Day and how he plans on spending Sept. 4th.

Kevin Gillespie from Top Chef: Beggin' Bacon Bash Interview with Creative Loafing from CatalystCharlotte on Vimeo.

Gillespie also supplied me with a few bacon inspired recipes he wanted to share. They're a little complicated considering how simple cooking bacon is, but they sound tasty in theory.

Spicy bacon popcorn

1/3 cup organic popping corn
3 T + 12g melted bacon fat
2 tsp espelette pepper
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp popcorn salt
¼ C finely grated parmesan
8g tapioca maltodextrin

Place three tablespoons of bacon fat in bottom of popcorn machine. Add popping corn and allow machine to run until the popping slows. Remove from the machine and toss in a mixing bowl with espelette, black pepper, salt, and parmesan. Mix remaining bacon fat with tapioca maltodextrin. Sprinkle bacon powder over popcorn and serve.

Bacon Whoopie pies

½ C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C dark brown sugar
½ C granulated sugar
¼ C turbinado sugar
2 large eggs
½ C molasses
2 T grapeseed oil
2 C AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp kosher salt
Bacon Buttercream
12 egg whites
1 Tbsp salt
3 C dark brown sugar
36 oz butter
½ C rendered bacon fat

Combine together butter, granulated, and brown sugar and whisk on high speed in a mixer until light
and fluffy. Add in eggs, molasses, and oil and whisk to combine. Add in flour and all dry spices and salt
and allow to mix until just combined. Roll cookie dough into a cylinder in plastic wrap and refrigerate
over night. Slice cookies into ¼ inch disks and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake at 400 degrees until
the edges are set, and the center is still soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before
using.

For the buttercream place the sugar and enough water to dissolve it in a heavy bottom sauce pot. Bring to
a boil and cook to 236 degrees Fahrenheit. While the sugar is cooking place the egg whites in the bowl
of a stand mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment. Begin whisking the whites on high speed once
the sugar reaches the desired temperature. Remove the sugar from the heat and begin pouring it into the
mixer in a thin stream slowly. Allow the mixture to whisk until the bowl cools to room temperature.
Once cool add in butter and bacon fat and whisk on high until the mixture is light and fluffy. Fill reserved
cookie sandwiches with icing.

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