Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Chestnuts...Fast

Last year, for the first time in my life I went to Thanksgiving with a friend instead of to family.  Which means that I got to try some other traditions and got to share some of mine with people who had never tried rainbow jello

One of the things the hostess did that I really liked was set out some appetizers about an hour before dinner was ready for those of us who were helping cook to snack on while we cooked.  My family doesn't really know about appetizers, so this is an area I'm always learning about.  One of her appetizers was something I'd never seen before.  Bacon wrapped chestnuts.  Well, I always say that bacon makes everything better!

I wasn't positive if they were really that good or if I was just really hungry, so of course I had to try making them myself! I tried several different recipes, and then, as always combined my favorite things from all of them.  Most of the recipes I found are very similar, but there were a few variations.

One of the things I didn't like was how long they took to bake.  After all, I can't tie up a whole rack of the oven for an hour on Thanksgiving!  I also didn't love the amount of bacon grease that stays with the treats as they bake.  For one batch, I ran out of raw bacon, so I wrapped a few chestnuts with precooked bacon instead.  I prefer my bacon very crunchy, so I really liked the result, plus they cook faster and have less grease.  Since the bacon is already cooked they could be baked in a good toaster oven and not tie up the oven at all.

Another dislike was how messy they can be.  I don't know about you, but I am neurotic about getting food on my shirt in a social situation.  I think this stems from my teen years when I ate an eclair at a party: I took a bite and all the pudding squished out the other end, right onto my shirt.  I had trouble with how sticky my fingers got snitching these goodies while cooking.

So here is my recipe, with my solutions to those problems.  This makes a small pan for a small party, but if you are feeding a large group, double it.

Printable recipe

1 package thick cut pre-cooked bacon
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (make sure it's gluten free)
1 Tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha chilli sauce

Soak toothpicks in water for a few minutes

Preheat oven to 375

Line a square baking dish with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.

Cut bacon strips in half.

Mix together in a small bowl the brown sugar, ketchup,  Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and sriracha sauce.  Set aside.

Wrap each chestnut with one of the half slices of bacon.the ends should overlap.  Insert a toothpick through all the layers.  I stop right after it pokes out the bottom.  When all the chestnuts are wrapped and skewered, it's time to sauce them.

Dip each chestnut in the sauce and arrange them in the pan so that they don't touch if possible.  Doing it this way rather than pouring the sauce over them keeps the toothpicks from getting saucy.  Bake for 20 minutes (if you like it really crisp, you can bake it another 5-10 minutes).  Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.

The sriracha sauce might scare you if you don't like spicy food (I do).  I felt like it added a pleasant kick without being very spicy.  If you are nervous about it, you can cut it in half or omit it completely, but I really recommend giving it a shot.