It is officially Rhubarb season. My husband recently surprised me with a bag full of rhubarb stalks and told me to have fun. Originally, I had visions of pork roast served with a rhubarb compote. The thought of it still makes my mouth water. But alas I'm no cook. I can, however, make a pretty nice cocktail.
After some careful though I decided to infuse bourbon whiskey with rhubarb and caramel using a bacon fat wash. I started by placing sliced rhubarb (approx. 4-6 stalks) in a butter greased pie dish. I then sprinkled 1/2 cup brown sugar over the rhubarb. Covered with foil and baked for 15 minutes at 375F.
After the rhubarb was done I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I lined a cookie sheet with non-stick foil and reduced the heat of the oven to 350F. I placed several strips of thick cut bacon on the cookie sheet. Then rubbed the top of the bacon down with about 1/2 cup of brown sugar. I placed the bacon in the oven for 20 minutes watching it carefully to make sure the sugar didn't burn. The result was perfectly cooked bacon coated in caramel.
After removing the bacon from the oven, I allowed it to cool for another 10 minutes.
Okay so maybe I was anxious to try the bacon and ended up burning my finger on the caramelized sugar. And then, maybe, like any normal human being I stuck that finger in my mouth burning my tongue with the very hot caramel on the tip of said finger. Maybe that happened.
While I waiting im-patiently for the bacon to cool, I poured the baked rhubarb (juice and all) into a large tupperware bowl. I then strained the bacon grease into the same bowl. While the bacon was still warm, I scrapped the caramel off most of the slices and added it to the bowl. Finally I added 750ml of bourbon. I closed the lid tightly and shook. After shaking I placed the tupperware bowl into the refrigerator for nearly a week, shaking it once a day.
Back to the bacon.
Do I really need to explain how good candied bacon is? I think by merely hearing the words candied + bacon you immediately know its awesome. The salty smokiness of the fatty pork co-mingling with the rich sweetness of caramel is simply mind blowing. I have no shame in confessing that I ate four slices, in succession, while standing up in my kitchen.
Fast forward 7 days later.
I had originally intended to let my rhubarb bacon whiskey sit for 3 days, but life got in the way. Perhaps it was a good thing I let it sit longer. The tartness from the rhubarb softened and the bacon flavor began to mellow. The two flavors, brought together by the sweet caramel, compliment each other well. Now came the hard part, straining.
I first used a collander to pick up the the rhubarb chunks. Then moved onto a large mesh strainer. Followed by 3 strains through cheese cloth. I wanted to remove as much of the bacon grease as possible. (I did attempt to use coffee filters but that took forever.)
After all that straining I was delighted with the infusion and knew exactly what I wanted to make.
RHUBY'S OLD FASHIONED
1 bar spoon brown sugar
1 maraschino cherry
1 orange slice
3 dashes of orange bitters
2 oz Rhubarb Bacon Bourbon
Muddle brown sugar with cherry, orange, and bitters. Add ice and bourbon. Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into rocks glass. Large round ice optional.
Enjoy! (perhaps with a side of candied bacon.)