It’s been nearly two months since my last culinary bacon experiment, a lapse for which I must humbly beg your forgiveness. But this week is all about food and family for most Americans, so I figured there could be no better time for a new stop on my Great Bacon Odyssey.
The idea for bacon-apple fritters grew out of a discussion I had with GeekDad’s fearless leader, Ken Denmead. We figured that, since other forms of pork are often served with apples — think of pork chops with applesauce, for example — why is bacon left out? So I got to thinking about the ways to prepare apples that would work well with bacon. My last experiment was for “bacorn” dogs, so I got to thinking about apple fritters. There’s something about taking a piece of nice, healthy fruit, dredging it in batter and cooking it in hot grease that seems quintessentially American. So what could be better than adding bacon to it?
Ken and I batted a few questions back and forth: Should the bacon be chopped up in the batter, or wrapped around the apple slices? If the latter, should there be anything in between the apple and the bacon? How to ensure the bacon is fully cooked before the apple turns to mush? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
I decided that the best bacon flavor would come from the bacon being wrapped around the apple prior to coating, and that simply partially precooking the bacon slices before wrapping them around apple slices would avoid both undercooked bacon and mushy apples. I decided on a simple beer batter for the coating, and got cooking.
The first order of business was the batter. One cup flour, one teaspoon salt, one cup beer (Magic Hat #9, as it was what we happened to have in the fridge), mixed together thoroughly and left, covered, on the counter for an hour, then a little water added to make it more liquid for easier coating — it doesn’t get much easier, or better, than that. As the batter approached readiness, I fried the bacon slices until a lot of the fat had rendered (another advantage of precooking), but they hadn’t started to crisp up yet — crispiness being the enemy of wrapability, which I declare to now be a word. While the bacon cooled, I started the canola oil heating up to 375°F in the deep-fryer, then peeled and cored the apples.
I cut the (Gala, though any sweet, firm apple should work) apples into wedges about ½ inch thick. I hesitated for a moment, trying to decide if I should cut the bacon slices and do a half-slice per fritter. Then I realized how silly that idea was, and went ahead with one bacon slice each. I wrapped the bacon around the apples, using a toothpick through the apple and bacon to keep everything together until it was cooked. A quick dredge in the batter, letting the extra drip off, then into the fryer basket. My deep-fryer is on the small side, so I went with only two fritters per batch. After four minutes, I took them out, let the oil drain off, and then removed them from the basket to sit on some paper towels.
And it was there that the only problem arose: the fritters were stuck, hard, to the basket. I ended up pulling them off by force, leaving some of the batter on the bottom of the basket, which was unfortunate but it was too late to do anything about it. Once they’d cooled a bit, I tried one.
Verdict: <George Takei>Oh myyyy!</George Takei>. So good I’m not sure I can go back to bacon-less apple fritters, truly! My wife — who is a huge fan of good old traditional apple fritters with a little powdered sugar on top — tried them and pronounced them delicious. Then my kids tried them. My son liked the one he had, but wasn’t sure he wanted another. My daughter, on the other hand, liked them so much she finished her first before my wife could get a picture of her eating it, and then had a second and a third (she’s going through a growth spurt, and so is eating way more than usual).
I highly recommend this to anyone who likes apples and bacon. I would suggest, however, using a deep pan for the frying rather than a standalone deep-fryer, because I had to stop making the fritters after three batches due to the amount of solid brown batter that coated the bottom of the basket. Deep-frying in a pan should avoid that problem. I think the fritters would make an excellent appetizer, or perhaps even side dish, for Thanksgiving dinner — though like all deep-fried foods, of course, the fritters should be eaten as soon after cooking as possible. I should also note that, while for the first batch I wrapped the bacon as you see in the photo above, I wrapped it around the whole slice, at an angle, for the other two batches, and I found that worked better to ensure you get the bacon taste in every bite.
Since the idea for this one was cooked up (heh) by Ken and me, nobody gets a ThinkGeek gift certificate this time. Please send me more ideas (either as a comment here or via email), though, because a $25 gift certificate will go to those whose ideas I use in future installments. I promise it will be much less than two months before my next stop on my Great Bacon Odyssey. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, and happy rest-of-the-week to those readers outside the U.S.
All photos by Matt or Jen Blum.