Saturday was just about the perfect afternoon.
(Well, except for the fact that Danny wasn’t here. He was off working, cooking food for other people.)
My friend Jeanne, who keeps a lovely blog called Four Chickens (because she also keeps four chickens in her yard) brought a giant canning pot and supplies, a flat of strawberries, her darling daughter, and her sunny smile into our home. We spent the afternoon slicing strawberries and turning them into jam.
All the while, we were nibbling on pralines with bacon.
Have you eaten these? You should.
Jeanne recommends the book these come from, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook. “Every recipe works,” she exulted. Full of stories and recipes (many involving pork, of course), this is the kind of book you need for a slow afternoon. Porch rocking chair is optional.
These pralines alone are enough reason to buy the book. (Or borrow it from the library, of course.) The crisp, crumbled bacon jumbled in with brown sugar and sweetness means a melt in the mouth experience, with the bacon being the last taste.
Buttermilk Bacon Pralines, from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Grab a baking tray and cover it with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Butter the parchment paper, but not the silicone mat.
Combine the the sugars, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda, and salt in a large saucepan. Cook on medium until the temperature reaches 220° on a candy thermometer (about 20 minutes).
Remove the pan from the heat. Pour in the vanilla, butter, pecans, orange zest, and bacon pieces. Beat the mixture vigorously (the author says you should “beat like the dickens”), taking care not to slop the hot mixture onto your skin. When it has all become smooth and creamy, stop stirring.
Drop a teaspoon full of the praline mixture onto the baking tray. Repeat until the tray is filled. (Come to think of it, you might need more than one tray.) Let the pralines stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or until they have firmed up and are entirely cool.
Store in an airtight container. (Good luck. They’re going to go in bellies fast.)
Makes 24 small pralines.