Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bacon Brittle Salad

Relationships are complicated.

So are non-relationship, relationships. If you know what I mean.

I have too many a few complicated relationships in my life.

Complicated: My bus crush. Going on 3 years now. Too bad he lives with his girlfriend. He is the nicest and funniest and has the prettiest blue eyes.

Non-Complicated: This girl. Right here. My good friend Kacey. She shows up. She makes me laugh with her witty and inappropriate jokes. And she eats. #Respect

Complicated: My dentist.

Yeah. My teeth are deceivingly lovely and white, but there is always something wrong with them. I won't bore you with the story about the time (aka now) I had to have a root canal on the same tooth for the third time. No, that's boring.

About 95% of the time, I blame my Mom's bad dental-genes. But the other 5% of the time,  it's my fault that the relationship is complicated. Two words.

Bacon Brittle.

I made this Bacon Brittle Salad twice over the past two weekends, both times for dinner parties, making a few modifications the second time around to my liking. It was a huge hit! The bacon brittle is sweet and spicy and then you combine it with delicious cheese and a sweet crisp apple...oh my!

This salad is for non-salad lovers and salad lovers. Last Sunday, my roommate's boyfriend said "I am getting seconds and I never get seconds on salad." I'll take it.

Also, it's even better the next day...seriously. When can you ever say that about salad?

I actually think it was worth the trip to my dentist I made yesterday and this morning to repair my cracked crown. That is heavy.

Bacon Brittle Salad
*Adapted from a Tasting Table recipe

Bacon Brittle
16 oz bacon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Greens n' Things
Lacinato Kale (dark green), washed, torn/cut into bite-size strips
2 Golden Delicious Apples (dark red), chopped into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded

Salad Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Fresh ground black pepper

1. Place the kale in a large bowl. Mix the salad dressing ingredients and toss over the kale, coating thoroughly. Place the bowl in the fridge while you prepare everything else.

2. In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, over medium heat, cook all the bacon until very crisp. Set the cooked bacon aside on a plate lined with paper towels; allow bacon to cool and pat with paper towels. Once it is cooled, tear it up into tiny pieces and place in a bowl.

3. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cayenne, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and baking soda. Set aside. In a saucepan, melt the white sugar over medium-low heat. Melting sugar is hard because it can easily burn. It will slowly turn a golden brown color and clump up a bit...just when you think it won't melt, it does. Stir occasionally with a heat-safe spatula, but not too much. Low heat is key. As soon as there are a few clumps left, remove from heat and add in all the spices and bacon bits. Stir very quickly coating the bacon; you've got about 25 seconds before the sugar will start to harden. Using a spatula, transfer it out of the pan and onto the cookie sheet. Set aside so the brittle can cool and harden.

4. While the brittle is cooling, prepare the rest of the salad. Add the apple slices and cheddar cheese to the top of the kale salad.

5. Once the brittle is cool, you gotta break it up. I have yet to perfect this method, but last time I tried, I put the brittle in a plastic bag and smashed it with a glass jar. Fancy!

6. Add the bacon brittle to the Kale salad; admire how beautiful the salad is before tossing it. Then, mix everything together and serve immediately. Or eat the next day. It is SO freaking good.