Ten years ago this month, my fiancé and I registered at Crate & Barrel. After adding a small-scale replica of an America’s Cup yacht to the list as a joke, Dom got serious. He deliberated over flatware, examining each set’s style and heft, while I obsessed over platters and serving bowls. We spent countless hours in the glassware section, stocking up for the many martini parties, Super Bowl get-togethers, poker nights, backyard barbecues and family holidays we planned to host over the years.
We got married and bought a house. But before we could unbox the yacht (that’s right, someone bought it) Dom got a new job offer. We sold the house and moved thousands of miles away from everyone we knew—taking our unused brandy snifters with us.
We found friends in new cities—people for whom we broke out the olive boat and picks that look like little Castelvetranos. I can still see us standing in our tiny Brooklyn kitchen, arranging cheeses and cured meats on a slate platter, leaving just enough room to write the names of each in chalk.
A few years later, we traded our disposable income and free time for baby. A little boy named Jude upon whom the awesomeness of my swimming pool chip-and-dip set was lost. So we pressed pause on entertaining for a few years, based solely on the lack of motivation it would take to shower, shop, cook and make the bathroom presentable for guests.
The desire to entertain recently returned, though the desire to blow the food budget, sap my energy or do anything to prevent Jude, now four, from getting to bed before he blows an almighty gasket has not. And in a rare moment of clarity and inspiration, the breakfast party was born.
This is a genius concept for many reasons:
For our inaugural breakfast party, I did a breakfast taco bar: scrambled eggs, cheese, chopped green onion, jalapenos, salsa, hot sauce, Greek yogurt (sour cream’s healthier cousin) and tortillas. Our guests brought fruit and donuts. But not even Dunkin Donuts’ freshest French cruller could trump the candied bacon from Pure Pork Awesomeness: Totally Cookable Recipes From Around the World (Andrews McMeel 2015), the new cookbook from Atlanta-based chef/restaurateur and Top Chef Season 6 heartbreaker finalist Kevin Gillespie.
Think you can’t improve on bacon? Sprinkle some light brown sugar on top, stick it in the oven and forget it for 20 minutes. What was once raw and flabby comes out sweet and salty, glazed and crispy, and in perfect alignment with Jude’s theory that bacon is “the dessert of breakfast.”
Makes 1 pound; about 16 slices
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound thick-cut, dry-cured bacon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the browns sugar and salt and place in a pile on another baking sheet. Separate the bacon into single slices and, one by one, lay the bacon in the sugar mixture and press to crust it on both sides, patting so the sugar adheres. You should have a fairly thick layer of brown sugar on both sides of the bacon.
Sprinkle any remaining sugar over the bacon. Bake until the sugar melts, bubbles and turns a deep brick red color, 18-20 minutes; the bacon will start to curl.
If using thick-sliced bacon, after 18 minutes increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake until crispy and deep brick red in color, another 10 minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a baking sheet lined with nonstick foil or a silicone mat. Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.