Date nights are to parents, what binge drinking is to college students.
It’s early Sunday morning and my head is still throbbing from a series of bad choices made on last night’s date night. The day started innocently enough with brown sugar and chili rubbed bacon (a.k.a. bacon crack) and eggs, then progressed through more than just a few celebratory drinks at Rum Club and culminating with the most amazing fried chicken sandwiches at Basilisk, a Portland hot spot.
Date nights are liberating moments designed to foolishly make us believe, for however short a period, we can live as freely as we once did. Well at least like you did prior to acquiring your very own five-year-old dictator hellbent on micro-managing every second of your waking life.
Date nights are to most parents what binge drinking is to college students. Occasions to completely let go (let it go, let it go) and have a wild, carefree time. The chief difference is that as I continue to improve with age my recovery time is not what it used to be. Believe me, I am no stranger to debauchery, I have lived a life of excess more than most people.
I feel I should clarify a bit, I am not the same irresponsible person I was thirty years ago at the height of my chef game. A wild time by today’s standards involves actually choosing the movies I want to watch rather than being forced to sit through an endless stream of Princess cartoons, often the same one replayed back to back to back until insanity is reached.
Date nights often mean sleeping unfettered in my own bed. Oh, that subtle joy found in not being pressed face first, blanket-less and cold against a wall by my son’s snoring body. The freedom we feel as parents by going out not worrying whether you have the right color crayons or enough spiderman stickers to last the 15 minutes while you chug a glass of wine. The liberation of knowing no pet slugs will be found hiding in your shoes feasting on organic bibb lettuce specially squirreled away for the occasion (yes, that really happened).
Yes, it is true, I freely admit it. I rather enjoyed Disney’s epic animated tale Frozen the first 117 times I watched it. I even donned a tiara and gleefully sang along with the stars at Disney Frozen on Ice. Somewhere around the 200th time watching it during a single weekend binge I started to ponder homicide as a viable method to regain sanity. I did the math. I might even get out of jail and still have enough time to enjoy what remains of life before senility engulfs me.
At the tender age of five Beau has not only mastered all the buttons to press and how far he can push them, BUT he became the expert of the exit strategy. At the crucial moment when I start to think life in jail really isn’t a horrible thing. I mean, three square meals, your own bed, and all the time in the world to think, he balls up into a sniveling mass, looks at me with sheepish eyes and says I love you, Dada.
Next time you have a date night lined up try making bacon crack (bacon rubbed in brown sugar and chilies then baked to a crispy yumminess). I started making this years ago when I was Chef of Brewery Gulch Inn in Mendocino, California.
Brown Sugar and Chili Bacon, a.k.a. Bacon Crack
Probably the most decadent way to enjoy bacon. Cooked correctly, it fires on all cylinders; sweet, salty, spicy, crispy, and supremely piggy.
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 28 minutes
- 1 pound thinly sliced bacon I opt for a nitrate-free applewood smoked bacon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1–2 tbsp chili flakes
- Line bacon on a silpat covered baking sheet. Bacon releases a lot of fat as it cooks so make sure you do not start a fire in your oven and use a pan with sides.
- Rub sugar and chilies all over the bacon.
- Bake at 350 for 20–30 minutes. Somewhere around the 15-minute point switch the bacon from the bottom shelf to the top shelf. The idea is to cook the bacon slowly. The temptation, especially after eating these previously will be to crank the oven up and cook quicker. Resist by all means necessary.
- Remove from oven when they are perfectly golden brown. Lift bacon out and allow to cool. The sugar will harden and make the bacon perfectly crispy. The bacon stays crispy only for 30 minutes or so then it will start to soften. French people often say food does not wait for people, people wait for food. This is the moment where you need to adopt the dictum in your life. The results will justify the means.