Bacon Bourbon. As soon as the words dripped from my fingers to my keyboard I knew I had to try it. So I checked with teh google and found several possible methods but settled on the one mentioned in this post.
I am a recent convert to bourbon and not really qualified to judge quality. I had to go by price and went with a mid range bottle of Wild Turkey. I thought about getting some really good bacon, but I decided since I was using just the grease, regular Giant Eagle Bacon would do.
First, fry up your bacon and collect the grease. The suggested amount was 6 oz, but I simply fried up a pound of bacon in a pan and let the grease build up (by the end making bacon fried bacon as one reader put it!) We strained the grease through a coffee filter so none of the solids went into our bourbon to steep.
In order to get enough bacon grease in with the bourbon we poured it out of the bottle and used a mason jar for the infusing process.
Shaken, not stirred.
After pouring it all together we shook the concoction and let it seep. The instructions suggested 6 hours of infusing, but we began infusing about 7 pm on Friday and let the jar sit until game time on Saturday, nearly 20 hours. One problem was that the bacon grease solidified pretty quickly. I kept the jar near a heater over night, but our house was just too cold and drafty to keep the grease liquid. Saturday morning I ran the jar under hot water to melt the bacon fat and then left the jar in a hot water bath all day, periodically shaking it, in an attempt to get the flavors mixed up.
In my excitement to get the bourbon good and bacony I left the jar in the warm water bath until about 3:30, at which point I panicked about not having it ready by game time and buried it in the snow to cool it quickly and harden the fat. It eventually solidified again, but in my continued enthusiasm for the project, mixed with Steeler playoff game jitters, I brought it in to strain a little early. I spooned out most of the grease then strained the bourbon through a sieve, but I should have double strained it and used a coffee filter for the whole process. (Actually Chef Rob got impatient too and pulled out the coffee filter when most of the grease was out but the bourbon was still moving too slowly and play of game was resuming…)
The result, as you can perhaps see, is that there was bacon fat still in the bourbon. This should be fixable, but definitely not for fussing with during a playoff game.
Tony: “I guess I can kind of taste a bit of smoke.”
Lou: “It taste like bourbon, only not as good.”
Desiree: “Eh. What they said.”
Me: “I guess I detect the shadow of bacon, but it really isn’t very strong is it,” sadface.
Not the “wow this is amazing, you are brilliant Jen” response I had been hoping for.
However during half time in an attempt to turn around some bad game juju we did shots and the responses were different. That time the bacon was more assertive. The shots started out primarily bourbon, but the finish was definitely bacon. I really enjoyed it and Tony was intrigued. But this really ruined the Bourbon for Lou and Desiree. Part of the difference may have been that the bacon fat which was still in the bourbon had more time to harden and so it was a very different mouth feel and taste. There was definitely a bit of visible fat (ew), though I’m not sure it was as gross as it sounds. That may have been what made the difference in taste that I liked and that grossed out some of the revelers.
I will have to re-strain it and try it again. But for now my review is mixed. It was a very interesting experiment, and if you have the resources to try it, it was a lot of fun. But if you have limited resources I’m not sure I’d commit an entire bottle of bourbon to it. I’d also like to try infusing it with actual bacon as opposed to fat and see what that does. Finally, I’d like to try mixing the finished product rather than serving it strait and see if that helps balance the flavors and bring out the good qualities of the bacon. I’m not ready to declare failure yet, but neither was it the resounding success I was hoping for. Also, no more experimenting during playoff games; unless it is determined to be good luck, and then I’ll be Madam Effing Curie in the Kitchen come game time.