I decided to make the Bacon Cups with Sweet Potato Hash AND the Spicy Fried Chicken Bites with Derby Dip. Both recipes have, you guessed it, bacon. I did make some modifications to the chicken, but I'll note those in the recipe.
Bacon Cups with Sweet Potato Hash
Courtesy of Brian Boitano
* 24 slices pancetta, sliced 1/16-inch thick (pancetta is a fancy word for ROUND BACON, if you can't find it I don't see any reason in the world thin sliced strips wouldn't work)
Sweet Potato Hash:
* 4 strips bacon (used about 50 grams/2 oz bacon pieces)
* 1 large sweet potato, small diced
* 4 stalks celery, diced
* 1 small yellow onion, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 24 fresh parsley leaves
For Bacon Cups:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Carefully place a slice of pancetta (round bacon) in one of the cups of the muffin tin making sure to gently press it into the cup like pie dough in a pie shell. Repeat with remaining slices of pancetta (round bacon). Carefully place the second muffin tin on top of the first so that the pancetta round bacon) is sandwiched in between the 2 tins. Flip the muffin tins upside down and place onto a sheet tray and bake in oven for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully remove the top muffin tin. Let the cups cool slightly before removing to another baking sheet lined with paper towels.
In a large skillet over medium heat brown the bacon. Remove the bacon from the skillet and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. In the skillet with the bacon fat, add potatoes, celery, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika and season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until potatoes are tender about 12 minutes (it took more like 20 for everything to be cooked through but maybe I didn't dice my sweet potato small enough). Crumble in cooked bacon and stir to combine.
Fill each bacon cup with a tablespoon of the hash and garnish with a parsley leaf.
The Verdict: The bacon cups use a mini muffin tin, but since I don't have a mini muffin tin I used a regular one. Somehow, I didn't take into consideration that bacon SHRINKS when it cooks, so I have little bacon saucers instead of bacon cups! I think the mini muffin cups would've made this look better, but it didn't really effect the taste so I wasn't too bothered. They were delicious, by the way. I'd make the hash without the bacon cups as a side dish in the future, it's really quite good.
Now for the Spicy Chicken Bites!
I made some adjustments to this recipe so I could bake the chicken instead of frying it, but I hope I captured the main idea.
Spicy Fried Chicken Bites with Derby Dip
Courtesy of Brian Boitano
4 strips bacon (I didn't use this much since I'd already had the bacon in the hash)
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken (I used chicken tenders)
2 cups buttermilk (I didn't measure this, just poured enough to cover the chicken)
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Tabasco sauce)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (this really sounded like a lot, but since you double dip the chicken it's actually pretty close to a good amount)
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (I wimped out and only used half this amount)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt (start with 1 tsp and work your way forward if you think it needs more salt)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups canola oil (I ditched this since I decided to bake the chicken instead)
* 3/4 cup sour cream
* 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
* 1/4 cup blue cheese, room temperature, cut into small pieces (I used Danish Blue)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the bacon onto a baking sheet and bake until crisp about 12 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Once the bacon is cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces. (I skipped this entire step and fried it up with the bacon from the first recipe)
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces (Again, I used chicken tenders, so I skipped this). In a large bowl combine the buttermilk, hot sauce, and chicken. Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
In a glass baking dish, whisk together the flour, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and add to the seasoned flour. Make sure all the chicken pieces are thoroughly coated. Remove the chicken from the flour mixture and put back into the buttermilk. Remove chicken from buttermilk and put back into the seasoned flour mixture for a second coating (instead of redipping in flour, I rolled them in panko crumbs). Transfer the double coated chicken to a baking sheet and reserve.
Heat the canola oil in a large cast iron skillet to 350 degrees F. Add the reserved 2 tablespoons bacon fat. Working in batches, fry the chicken until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. (If you decide to bake the chicken instead, do so for 15-28 minutes at 375 F).
In a medium bowl stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise and blue cheese. Stir in the crumbled bacon.
Serve the chicken with the Derby Dip on the side.
The Verdict: I thought this was good! It had a bit of a kick but wasn't super hot. Next time I'd try a bit more cayenne pepper like the recipe says.