It can't be said enough: Bacon is the perfect food. (You know, health-nut rantings aside.) It can be enjoyed all by itself for breakfast, atop a sandwich enhancing the stuff beneath, or even as part of a gourmet dinner, wrapped around scallops or a juicy filet. It's even at home crumbled in a salad (Take that health nuts...)
But as most chefs know, bacon can be used in so many more interesting and delicious ways. Fortunately for us, 18 of them have slipped some of their favorite recipes into the new Bacon Freak Cook Book
It's packed with the best ways to exploit the joys of bacon for every meal, including appetizers and desserts. (Bacon for dessert? Yes please.) And since you can grab a paperback copy for under $8, or download the PDF version instantly for just under $3... this is one cook book that needs to be in every guy's kitchen. (Order here
And to prove it, here is one of the recipes you'll find in the book. It's from chef Rick Bayless, a bacon freak in his own right, and host of the TV show Mexico - One Plate at a Time
. Rick offers up his Avocado Mango Salad recipe, which prominently features his favorite ingredient. According to Rick, "Whenever I'm stuck on what to do in a particular recipe, I always think. WWBD?” Amen, Rick.
Avocado Mango Salad
4 slices bacon
1/2 cup hulled, untoasted pumpkinseeds
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup vegetable or
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chile to taste (I like 1 large serrano or small jalapeno), stemmed (optional)
1 tablespoon honey
1 large head Boston/butter head lettuce (or an equivalent amount of bibb lettuce), leaves separated
2 large ripe avocados
2 ripe mangos
A generous 1/2 cup coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco or mild blue cheese (Gorgonzola is great)
Arrange the bacon slices between a double layer of paper towels on a microwavable plate. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes, until crispy. Pour the pumpkin seeds into a small skillet and set over medium heat. When the first one pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to round, about 5 minutes. Scoop about 1/3 of them into a blender jar and add the lime juice. Pour the remainder into a small dish.
Return the skillet to medium heat and measure in the oil. Add the garlic and optional chile. Cook, stirring regularly, until the garlic is soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Scrape the oil and garlic into the blender or food processor. Add the honey and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. Taste and season with more salt if you think necessary. (Remember: it should be highly seasoned.)
Divide the lettuce between 4 dinner plates. Pit and peel the avocado, then cut it into slices. Peel the mango, then cut the flesh from the pit. Slice to match the avocado pieces. Arrange the avocado and mango in the center of the lettuce. Drizzle everything with the dressing, then sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Crumble the bacon and strew it over the top, and the salad is ready.
For more bacon freak recipes, head over to BaconFreakCookBook.com