Last summer I helped at a couple New York barbecue competitions, which wet my whistle to go full steam ahead and start entering myself this summer.
The sense of community is strong at these events, with many teams willing and eager to have you taste-test their meat. While the required categories (like ribs, pulled pork, and brisket) are top priority, many grillers also chose to add their own creations, and one of the most prevalent is pig candy (that's candied bacon for the uninitiated).
As I'm looking into competitions for myself, I thought it best to figure out a recipe for great pig candy, so that I, too, can be so generous with impressive snacks for my expanding barbecue family.
The process is simple: bake bacon and sugar together. But of course it's never that simple when it comes to barbecue and grilling. Debate rages in the details—one or two sides of sugar, regular or peppered bacon, add cayenne or not, and so on.
I found my pig candy in a recipe from Patio Daddio BBQ, where the requisite brown sugar gets an added layered of sweetness with maple syrup. It can be done equally well on the grill, smoker, or oven.
This was everything I wanted pig candy to be: a thick bacon that stands meaty as its saltiness combines with the rich sweetness of caramelized sugar, while a touch of spice creates a little bite within the sea of sugar.