COOKING LOCAL Super Bowl Mini Bacon Dip Cups

February 03, 2012

    Welcome back to the kitchen. For many Americans, this is an exciting

time. In fact, we are approaching what I would consider the holiest day of the year. A day when the most of us are

focused on the same singular ritual at any one single time, a day when men are elevated to a god-like status, and

a day when dietary restrictions are handily ignored or completely blitzed.
    Yes, friends,

we are approaching Super Bowl Sunday!
    What else brings more of us together, unifies us,

and inflames greater passion? We tend to think of ourselves as a religious nation, but I would posit that our true

religion is football. It certainly attracts more loyal viewers on any given Sunday than any church could ever hope

    Now, I go through brief periods of piety when it comes to the religion of football.

More often I am found straying from the flock (or huddle, I suppose). But one of the things I have come to love

about the Super Bowl is that Americans have managed to add yet another exorbitant food holiday to our already

crammed calendar.
    And this is no high falutin’ day of caviar and crudités.

No sir, we are talking football food, greasy, hearty, stick to your ribs mane fare. The kind of stuff you want to

make sure is consumed in areas with plenty of good ventilation, should eating it lead to an inevitable case of

the… vapors (shall we say?).
    Super Bowl Sunday is a great opportunity to take a

normal unhealthy snack food and put it on a pedestal of perfection. It is a day when chili replaces bouillabaisse,

when chicken wings sideswipe squab, when burgers best filet mignon. This is a day for comfort food.

/>    Of course, there are many definitions of this. But I know of one ingredient that has been

known to make even the skinniest vegan drool with anticipation. It is known as a gateway meat. I’m talking,

of course, about bacon. Smokey, crispy, fatty, and just absolutely awesome; bacon is king.

/>    So this year I’m thinking of a fun presentation for Super Bowl snacks. Why not bake off

a big bunch of little bacon cups? Bacon cups? Yup, bacon cups! Or mini bacon bowls, I suppose. These are really

pretty easy, and they are an awesome way to serve food.
    Basically all we need is a bunch

of bacon, maybe 2 packages, and a muffin tin or two, plus a large baking sheet. Ideally we want a small muffin cup

size, but not as small as mini muffins because bacon shrinks when cooked and those would end up too small. But

neither do we want the gigantic oversized commercial muffin sized cup. Medium small is what we are looking for.

/>    The technique of weaving a bacon bowl takes a little bit of practice, but it is also pretty

forgiving. We are going to flip the muffin tins over and use the backs of the cups as a mold for our bacon cups. I

like to start with a half slice of bacon draped over he center of the cup, then another half piece crossing that,

then finally a piece wrapped around those two on what will be the lip of the bacon bowl.

Depending on the size of your muffin tin, you might actually be able to weave a little bowl, alternating strip

layers. It is a little hard to describe without showing, but basically you want to wrap or weave the pieces over

the muffin tin mold so there are no gaps or holes. The bacon really will fuse together in the oven.

/>    Place the bacon wrapped upside down muffin tins onto the baking sheet, so it can catch the

fat that runs off. Put that into a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until they are nice

and crisply cooked to your liking, but of course not burned. Carefully pull the pans out of the oven, watching out

for hot grease. Let the cups cool a bit, and then pop them off to cool a bit more and drain on paper towels. And

would you look at that? You’ve got mini bacon bowls!
    What would be good served in a

mini bacon cup, you ask? If I could reach through the radio I’d grab you excitedly by your lapel and shout

gleefully into your face, “Everything!” Truly, I challenge you to think of a food that would not be

more delicious were it served in a container made of crispy bacon goodness.
    How about

pulled pork and coleslaw shooters with spicy barbecue sauce? How about little scoops of eggy potato salad or even

some chicken salad with grapes and celery? Yes, bacon would go great with those! I would even be so bold as to

suggest a little bed of a sweet cornbread chunk topped with some maple pecan ice cream and a little drizzle of

maple syrup. Served in a bacon cup, you’ve got maybe the best mini sundae ever made.

I was even considering something like a reverse shepherd’s pie, with garlicky mashed potatoes layered in the

bacon cup first, then some seasoned ground beef and sautéed veggies, some corn and gravy on top. Or skip

the beef and make a loaded mashed potato bacon cup with sour cream, chives, and cheddar mashed potatoes inside. Or

got the breakfast root and layer in some cheesy scrambled eggs. Or, what the hell, I would even happily eat a

melon-based fruit salad served in bacon.
    What I’m trying to convince you is that

almost no matter what you put in a cup made of bacon, it will be an instant hit at your Super Bowl party, or any

other snacking opportunity.
    Because the Super Bowl itself it is such a long and bloated

affair, I’m thinking that snacks and munchies are the right way to go, so we can easily grab some food with

one hand, leaving the other free to wave a fist at an offending play or grab a nearby can of beer.

/>    So this time around I’m going to fill my bacon cups with dip, and set out a number of

dipping options to go along. In truth a bacon cup is nowhere near watertight, no matter how well you’ve

woven it together. So thicker dips definitely work better here.
    Probably my favorite dip

of all time is classically creamy, tangy guacamole. I also happen to adore the interplay between bacon and

avocados. We can make up little individual bacon guacamole cups and serve them with nachos or regular tortilla

chips. Of course, some spicy chicken strips would be awesome too!


/>    So for Perfect Guacamole, we’ll need:
    -3 or 4 ripe,

medium sized avocados, pitted and peeled
    -1 roma tomato, diced

or 2 green onions, white end discarded, sliced fine
    -about 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves,

tender stems included, chopped fine
    -the juice of 1 lime (plus more to taste if lime is

    -pinch of salt to taste

    Cut the avocados

in half the long way and hack a chef’s knife into the pit at an angle, to easily lift it out. Slice the

flesh into sections and scoop it all out of the skin into a medium bowl.
    Mash the avocados

with a fork until they are creamy, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. You can of course add more tomato or

onion if that is to your liking, and I find you really can’t overdo the cilantro. If it tastes kind of flat,

add more lime and/or salt to your guacamole. Otherwise, just keep it simple and use nice, ripe avocados.



    Well, one dip down, that was easy! What goes great with chips

and guacamole (and bacon cups)? How about nacho cheese sauce? Did you wrinkle up your nose at that one, thinking

of the glue-like neon yellow cheese with a Z nacho cheese you’ve eaten at movie theaters or sad seven

elevens? Well, I can’t blame you if you are repulsed. The common nacho cheese really shouldn’t even be

allowed to bear that name.
    But we will make up a nice, thick, creamy cheddar cheese sauce

with some nice smokey hotness and some diced sweet peppers. I promise, this will wipe away all your bad memories

of nacho cheeze with a Z.
    If you’ve ever made homemade macaroni and cheese, this

sauce or dip is made basically the same way.


For our Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce

we’ll need:

    -2 tbsp. butter
    -2 tbsp flour

/>    -1 cup milk
    -1 cup grated cheddar cheese

tsp salt
    -about 1 tsp canned chipotle peppers in sauce (more or less to taste, chop up

solid pepper chunks if needed)
    -1/2 cup finely diced sweet red



    Some recipes add some cream cheese and Monterey jack,

some use cornstarch instead of flour, some add chili powder and paprika. These are all fine additions, but I think

the basic version we have will work fine, and the smoked chipotle will add lots of spicy flavor.

/>    Start by melting the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Next mix in the flour and

stir with a wire whisk until it is well combined with the melted butter. Slowly pour in the milk and stir

continuously until the flour thickens. Next add the grated cheddar cheese and a pinch of salt. Stir continuously

until the cheese is thoroughly melted. Whisk gently until all these ingredients are well combined and the sauce is

nice and thick. Finally, add in the chipotle pepper and diced bell pepper and stir everything together well.

Remove the nacho cheese saucepan from the heat.
    Now, you definitely want to serve a cheese

sauce like this warm, but I find that f it is too hot it will run out of the bacon cups. So you can try to wait a

bit before dishing it out. Another solution is to line each bacon cup with a little piece of cabbage or lettuce,

to keep the sauce in.
    Serve the nacho cheese sauce along with corn chips and the guacamole

cups. Of course, there are plenty of other things besides chips that go well with a tangy, spicy cheese sauce.

I’m sure you can figure out some other interesting accompaniments.


/>    I’m going to arrange these guacamole and spicy nacho cheese bacon cups on a platter

with a big bowl of tortilla chips. I’m going to sprinkle on some extra chopped cilantro and green onions for

a garnish, and if I’m feeling particularly fancy I’ll also hang a little wedge of lime off the edge of

each bacon cup. Beautiful, and awesome!
    I’m also considering making up some thick

yogurt based ranch dip or maybe some blue cheese to serve along with plenty of sliced veggies for dipping. But we

are running out of time for today. Plus, with crispy cups of bacon filled with guacamole and home made cheese

sauce staring me in the face, I’m a little distracted.
    Go team! I’ll be in

the other room refilling my plate. I hope this little Super Bowl snack idea has you thinking of interesting twists

on the classics. Sometimes it just takes an interesting presentation to snazzy up an old standby.

/>    So there you have it. May your Super Bowl be fun and filled with great food, may you avoid

indigestion and hangover, oh yeah, and I suppose I hope the sporting event is entertaining as well.

/>    I’d love to hear your best Super Bowl food ideas, or your favorite crazy uses for

bacon. Send me any questions or comments to Cooking local in the KOHO Kitchen, I’m

Isaac Kaplan-Woolner.