Recently, one of our favorite Southern magazines, Garden & Gun, published a cookbook. The Southerner's Cookbook: Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories is a collection of many of the recipes that have appeared in the pages of the magazine. It is a fine cookbook and it saves you the time of trying to find that recipe for chocolate gravy you saw last year, or maybe the year before.
It is a kind of highbrow community cookbook if your community includes Julia Reed, Edward Lee, and Rick Bragg. Not a bad community to live in. You are not going to say, "OMG I never thought of FRYING chicken." Here is the funny thing about the South (and perhaps regional food in general) everyone knows how to make pemiento cheese because the recipe is the name, but ask 25 Southern cooks for their recipe and you will have 25 different recipes. Same thing with fried chicken, cornbread, babbecue sauce, or shrimp and grits. Everyone has their own tweak and we like that.
One thing that stands out in the South is the absolute ability to celebrate anything. A good example of our zealous celebration is an event like the Kentucky Derby. The race averages roughly 2 1/2 minutes. The entire event is said and done in a mere 150 seconds, however, the parties associated with those seconds can last for three weeks. For those mathemeations out there, that is a week of parties for every minute of activitiy. A week of party per minute of activity is a good ratio for the South.
While some folks need months of preparation for an event, a Southerner can throw together a fantastic party with very little notice. The most mundane items in a pantry can become the stuff that legends are made of. Like bacon crackers. Clearly, this is one of those recipes born out a need to throw and impromptu shotgun wedding reception. Found in many a community cookbook, this particular recipe offers both a sweet and savory option.
Bacon Crackers: Classic, Herbed and Brown Sugar
12 bacon slices (not thick-cut)
48 saltines or buttery crackers, such as Club brand
48 fresh rosemary tips (for Herbed Bacon Crackers)
6 teaspoons dark brown sugar (for Brown Sugar Bacon
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line the bottom of a broiler pan with foil.
Cut bacon slices in half lengthwise and then crosswise to create 4 long strips.
Arrange crackers on a work surface and wrap a bacon strip around each, overlapping the ends on top.
If making Herbed Bacon Crackers, tuck a base of rosemary tips under overlapping ends of bacon. If making Brown Sugar Bacon Crackers, carefully sprinkle 1⁄8 teaspoon brown sugar on the bacon on the top side of each cracker, pressing to help it adhere (avoid getting sugar on the cracker or it will burn."
Set a perforated rack on top of the foil-lined broiler pan and arrange the crackers seam-side-down, 1⁄2 inch apart in a single layer and bake for 1 to 1-1⁄2 hours, until the bacon is your desired level of crispness. Transfer crackers to a cooling rack and cool completely before serving.
If there is something to complain about in this book, we will say we were disappointed not to find the authors of the recipes listed. Garden & Gun presented each of these recipes in articles they published and it seems a shame that authors weren't listed.