Mmmmmm, bacon. One of my favorite food groups! It is a separate food group, right? Given this thought pattern shared between my sister and me, we thought, “Let’s host a BaconFest party.” I’ve been to parties based around food themes before such as Mexican or Italian foods but never one based solely on one ingredient.
The idea of a bacon-themed party started with BaconFest Chicago. When I moved to Chicago a few years ago, the festival was in its inaugural years. It has since grown to a two-day event with three separate eating sessions. Top Chicago area chefs create hundreds of bacon dishes from appetizers to desserts for ticket holders to sample. Bartenders concoct original bacon themed drinks to enhance the dining experience. 2015 participating restaurants span a broad range including breakfast/lunch places to sweet shops to bbq and other dinner spots. Some of my favorites include Black Dog Gelato, Fork, Farmhouse, and Red Door.
Unfortunately for us, we have never been able to partake of Chicago’s festival. So, next best thing was to host our own party.
Basic and simple – You must bring a dish with bacon as an ingredient in order to enter.
Since I was heading home for a holiday visit, we planned our party in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was super excited as I don’t get to cook for groups very often since I’m a solo traveler. Of course, I cooked way too many dishes in a short span of time right before the party started. Can you say frazzled? I don’t recommend my cooking method of the day.
Pick out your recipes based on your tastes (in case you are the only person eating it). That’s my theory! I chose basically a full meal: an appetizer, main dish, side dish and dessert. Choosing so many dishes is not necessary unless you love to cook like I do.
Write your grocery list and shop. If you are like me, you may need 4-5 packages of bacon. Yeah!
Prep and cook dishes according to what can be done ahead of time and what needs to stay warm for serving. Check ahead of time with the host to see if oven and stovetop will be available to warm up food before serving.
- Make name tags for dishes. Let guests know what they are eating. Depending on the size of your party, add the home chef’s name to the tag. This will help people connect and discuss.
- Ask people to bring copies of their recipes to share. Or if that is too much, ask chefs to take a cell phone photo of their recipes to email or text message to people.
- Be sure to include drinks perhaps some bacon vodka or bacon manhattans.
My BaconFest Dishes
- Bacon Beer Cheese dip from Tornadough Alli’s collection
- Bacon Wrapped Fries from Food Network – super easy to make
- Smothered Bacon Chicken from South Your Mouth
- Bourbon Bacon Brownies from Food Network
I also took along a lovely Pinot Noir from Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River. It was a little out of my typical price point but so worth it. The rich fruit forward taste paired heavenly with the bacon dishes. Definitely buying it again.
What Others Brought
- Bacon topped herb cheese with Ritz Bacon Crackers
- Mini bacon meatloaf
- Bacon wrapped tater tots
- Gruyere and bacon tart
- Fried polenta with bacon jam
- Bacon Mac n cheese
- Salad with Bacon vinaigrette
- and the list goes on…
Oh my, the bacon jam! It was by far my favorite. I could slather that on burgers, crackers, steak, you name it. It was delicious.
My other favorite, the Smothered Bacon Chicken dish. Yummy. Tons of cheese and bacon with potatoes and chicken to give it structure. Fantastic. The leftovers even warm up well. I’ve already made this dish again for another party as well as the bacon wrapped fries.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with Bacon Mac n Cheese either. Mmmm, makes me hungry thinking about it.
BaconFest end result: Success!
Satisfied appetites and plans to host another party next year. Requirement – no repeat recipes.
Have you hosted a food-themed party or attended one? Show me your photos.