For nearly 10 years, the Minnesota Pork Producers have asked me to edit and format 15 or so chef recipes for publication in their annual Taste of Elegance cookbook. Part of the MPP’s annual meeting, the Taste of Elegance brings local high-end chefs together to show off their talents in creatively cooking with pork.
The book is distributed at the Taste of Elegance event, where each chef serves up samples of his or her contest entry to everyone who happens by. A lot of pork is eaten that night. Each chef has a booth and each year the chefs get more creative with their set up. My favorite so far is Chef Peter Christensen’s booth at this year’s event. Chef at Woolley’s Restaurant in nearby Bloomington, he tripped his booth out county fair-style, complete with cotton candy. I enjoyed his bourbon-cured pork loin and amazing smoked peach ice cream. But the runaway hit for me was his bacon cotton candy.
The concept seemed simple and even cheeky, but I was absolutely enamored. This was brilliance. Cotton candy is pure sugar and can be sweet enough to make your teeth ache. Bacon is salty and rich–the perfect balance for sweet. Combining the two made for an amazing taste experience. Chef Peter was kind enough to send a bag home with me and I enjoyed it throughout the next couple of days whenever I needed a hit of sublime. (As amazing as I found bacon cotton candy, I could only eat a bit at a time as it was extremely rich.)
Knowing I needed more, I committed to making cotton candy at home. The Internet made this a real possibility; I did a bit of online research and ordered what looked to be a good, affordable home model. (I stayed away from the brand whose reviews mentioned that it “spontaneously combusted.”)
My oldest daughter had a slumber party soon after the machine’s arrival and making cotton candy was on our agenda that night. What a blast. Something about the swirling sugar floss just seems so ethereal and magical. Fun. Like you can’t stop smiling fun. The home models make much smaller servings than the machines you find at fairs, so a cone or two won’t blow anyone’s healthy-eating intentions. (Did I mention that it’s just plain fun to make?)
Chef Peter was a prince to share his bacon cotton candy recipe with me, though I have yet to make it. His advice to “use an area that you can easily clean (garage or open area)” makes me think I need a bigger stretch of time for the project than I have available right now. But making bacon cotton candy is absolutely on my list.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to whip out the cotton candy maker for birthday parties, sleepovers, rainy days, and whenever else smiling is encouraged.