My go-to brunch order in Chicago is the waffle and Publican bacon at The Publican. The bacon is maple braised and is super thick cut and tender as anything that I have tasted. After a friend gifted a few quarts of some amazing small batch Wisconsin maple syrup tapped by her father, I really wanted to try to approximate this bacon at home.
With no good recipes to tap into I figured that I would simply mix some sticky pork broth with maple syrup and braise a slab of bacon. Pretty simple, but it would take an entire bottle of syrup to get this done. On Twitter, Rob Levitt of Mado Restaurant suggested cooking the bacon sous vide to conserve syrup – a great idea.
After confit-ing duck legs sous vide, this was not terribly different. I cut a 4-5 inch piece from a slab of bacon and put it in a vacuum bag with 1/2 cup of dark maple syrup and a teaspoon of peppercorns. After sealing the bag, I weighed it down in a dutch oven filled with water and put it in a 200 degree oven for 10 hours and let it cool and rest for two days in the fridge. Be careful when transferring the bacon to the fridge as you must delicately handle the pork, it will fall apart.
Today, I sliced a few pieces (a little too thinly) and cooked them in a cast iron skillet. Once the bacon was cooked, I added two spoonfuls of the braising liquid along with a 1″ cube of pork stock jello (the reduced cooking “liquid” from the testa) and reduced it to a glaze and poured it over the rashers.
While this is no Publican Bacon, it is a completely different, and awesome, animal when compared to regular bacon. The soft, porky texture combined with the salty-sweet contrast makes you sigh and swoon with your first bite. The waffle, while ordered separately at the Publican is the perfect accompaniment. Light and crispy with sopping power. The glaze is as good as the bacon – and that is really saying something.