Today: Kristen gets ready for game day -- and stretches the definition of genius in the name of deliciousness.
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Back in the good old days -- when hair was feathered and foods were fused -- we wrapped a lot of bacon around a lot of things.
The classic Rumaki involved duck or chicken liver. Devils on Horseback: boozy prunes. There were scallops in snug bacon belts. Items were soaked in soy, or simmered in sweet chili sauce, before being engirded by pork. And then there's Food52's own Texan twist with roasted Hatch chiles, Devils on Hatchback.
If you have been to a cocktail party in the past 40 years, you've popped a few of these in your mouth.
Ready for it? It's bacon strips, halved, painted with Dijon, sprinkled with brown sugar, stuffed with water chestnuts, skewered, and roasted crisp. Optionally dragged through chutney.
I have been making them for parties ever since my parents learned my little fingers could roll them, and I recommend putting children and other kitchen assistants of limited abilities to work in this capacity.
Why are they genius? Well, they're delicious. There is always a fight over them, and never one left behind. It's four ingredients (not counting the chutney) and -- like some of the most genius recipes we've seen -- you don't really need a recipe to remember them. There aren't even amounts listed.
They're a peculiar blend of high and low cuisine (Do you have any Grey Poupon? I need to put it on my bacon) and one of the more sensible examples of early fusion food. They manage to rope in French Dijon, Chinese water chestnuts, and Indian chutney, and seem to have been part of a trend called Mock Polynesian.
In other words, they're American, to the hilt. Are you ready for some football yet?
There are few party snacks that feel more dated, but you won't see me trying to revive Jell-O salad or the sandwich loaf. This one holds up, like a fine pig in a blanket. And, really, old is the new new: these babies foretold both our recent tastes for salty with sweet and the bacon explosion (and The Bacon Explosion).
The generic-sounding chutney pairing is the part that made my bosses cringe -- maybe you will too. But you can go without, or make your own chutney, or use your favorite artisanal brand. Or just remember that you're dipping a ball of bacon in it, get some Major Grey's, and not worry too much about it.
But I'm not giving you the alternate microwave instructions. I've got standards.
The Elegant Hors d'Oeuvre's Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts
The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."