An Excuse for Bacon {scallops and pureed sweet potatoes}

When I can’t think of something that I want to cook, I’ll generally think back over the last few weeks or months at a good meal that I ate somewhere and try to recreate it. Or at least mimic the flavors in an attempt to arrest the inevitable craving that has set in. In this case, I was in the mood for a scallop dish from Milner’s in Winston-Salem of all places (a surprisingly good food scene for a small town).

So imagine my delight when my sister and I experienced very strong bacon-telepathy involving an email from her with a link to A Cozy Kitchen blog featuring “pig candy” (you read that right) just after describing to my husband that I wanted to eat maple bacon. All of the pieces were falling into place for dinner on Sunday night.

I decided the best way to get this bacon from my brain into my mouth would be to incorporate it into an otherwise mostly healthy dish of seared scallops and whipped sweet potatoes. Here is a rough sketch of what you’ll need in order to recreate my recreation (serves two):

  • 8-10 dry sea scallops, cleaned
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 stick of butter (seriously), divided
  • 4 pieces of thick cut bacon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • salt and pepper for good measure

Keeping in mind that I threw together this dish, don’t fret too much over the quantities and feel free to give yourself some wiggle room to make adjustments as you see fit.

Naturally, I turned to the bacon first. That way it would be sitting on my counter for an hour or so before dinner and I could test my will power to not eat it all before dinner. Turns out I’m exactly as strong as I thought (I ate half a piece). Preheat your oven to 400°F and grab a small sheet pan and a wire rack. Situate the rack on the pan and lay out your four bacon strips side by side.

Pop those beauties in the oven for 15 minutes and then pull them out so you can flip each piece over. As my mom always said, “fat looks better tan” and although I don’t think she was referring to bacon, it totally applies.

See? Once you flip the bacon, cook for another 5 minutes just to ensure equal crisping opportunity. Grab the suckers back out of the oven (be careful with the hot bacon fat lingering in your sheet pan) and brush them with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup. Stick them back in the oven for 5 minutes so the syrup and salty fat can merge appropriately. Remove and try not to eat them. I dare you.

Now that your house smells of bacon and your dog is locked away in her crate, crying over her lack of opposable thumbs and inability to lunge onto the counter, let’s work on the sweet potatoes. Keep your oven on and put the sweet potatoes on a sheet pan in said oven. Cook until tender – about an hour.

Let them cool for a few minutes before peeling them (the skin slides right off – it’s very satisfying) and placing the beautiful orange flesh in a bowl worthy of a hand mixer.

Add 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of your maple syrup and a healthy pinch of salt to the potatoes before you get to whipping.

Insert Devo reference here.

To keep these warm while you sear your scallops, just pop them into your oven (that you should have turned off by now but that certainly is still quite warm). I know y’all remember how to make scallops but just as a reminder, heat a pan over high heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of butter and sear each side for 90 seconds.

Serve this garnished with that bacon (remember that bacon? You didn’t eat it all, did you?) and the toasted pecans. Noms.