With the holiday season in full swing, you may find yourself hosting one or more parties. While these occasions are often fun for the party-goers, between creating invitations, decorating your home, brainstorming entertainment ideas and planning a crowd-pleasing menu, party hosting can quickly become an overwhelming and stressful task. But that hasn’t stopped me from throwing numerous parties for many years. I personally take pleasure in bringing people together to share good food and company.
Over the years, I picked up a thing or two about entertaining. First, a host should never sacrifice his or her sanity for the happiness of the guests. Not only would your negative energy transfuse to your guests, but with all the work you put into the party, no one deserves to have a good time as much as you! Second, keep things simple. As far as food goes, choose recipes that are tried-and-true favourites with a few key ingredients that allow for some creativity (or errors).
One of my party staples is bacon. I find its smoky flavour allows it to be easily incorporated into and liven up many appetizers and dishes. Also, it is very palatable. After all, humans are genetically coded to naturally have a penchant for salty and greasy foods, and bacon certainly fits that bill. At least conventional pork bacon does.
On one of my recent trips to my local grocery store, I happened to stumble upon something I had never seen before: beef bacon. Having studied nutrition in my undergraduate studies in university, I was trained to study and use the information in nutrition labels to make informed and healthy food choices. (I realize that conventional wisdom tells us that bacon is unhealthy, but I have always been a strong advocate of enjoying everything in moderation.)
The first thing I noticed upon looking at the nutrition label was how much less fat, sodium and cholesterol it contains compared to the leading brands of pork bacon. It also shows a higher protein count.
I was intrigued. I wanted to find out how this novel, healthier bacon compares in taste with conventional bacon, so I purchased a package to try at home. After a few minutes on a frying pan, the bacon slices developed a nice golden brown colour and my kitchen was filled with a delicious aroma. I eagerly took a bite. Much to my satisfaction, the beef bacon was perfection; it had the same crispiness and rich blend of seasonings that I enjoy so much with pork bacon. The only discernible difference, I found, was the cleaner taste, which I suppose is a result of the lower fat content.
I was pleased. I felt like I had unearthed a secret to allowing both my guests and myself enjoy a food traditionally regarded as a guilty pleasure – without the guilt. Further, as a regular party host, I can continue to enjoy the ease with which bacon makes entertaining, and I now have an idea for a great conversation starter to bestow some nutritional knowledge upon my guests. To me, all of this makes entertaining guests even more gratifying.
If you are looking for ideas on how to integrate beef bacon into your cooking, here is one of my favourite things to serve my guests.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Ready in: 35 minutes
- 15 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed
- 4 ounces enoki mushrooms, washed and trimmed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- Dash ground pepper
- 5 slices beef bacon
- Grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, optional
- Chopped chives, for garnish
For more information about the beef bacon that I used – check out http://www.beefbacon.net/.