I am hooked on Top Chef. Part of the thrill is watching these professionals struggle with ridiculous challenges. I always internalize the show, convinced I'd be one of the first casualties. Now, I gather the first order of business is to prepare a dish that tastes good, as it should be. But it also has to look good; actually, not just good, but as if some cook worked it over with tweezers, squirt bottles and any manner of magic devices. While working in the Student Chef, particularly in the pastry section, my peeve was the fussiness of the desserts we had to serve, with all manner of fluff, tuiles, swiriling syrups, and flying buttresses. Just give me an incredible tart or an amazing piece of chocolate cake with some unbelievable gelato, and for crapsake, not too much whipped cream!
When Top Chef's head judge, Tom Colicchio, is displeased, he often asks "what were you thinking?" That just chills me to the bone! So, I hereby offer you an appetizer that would probably pass the taste test on Top Chef, but because of the lack of squirt bottles would probably get me the boot, along with an inquiry about my thoughts. However, let me say these wieners are so delicious and so much better than being stewed in sauce for hours, that it just doesn't matter.
This is so easy it's sinful, consisting of Litl Smokies sausages, bacon, brown sugar and toothpicks. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. A one pound package of Litl Smokies would be very sufficient for a moderate size party. Wrap each sausage with bacon and secure with a toothpick. To do this, cut a slice of bacon crosswise into three equal pieces. If your bacon is thick, cut it lengthwise too, so you end up with six pieces. Therefore, use one slice thick bacon for 6 sausages, or one slice regular thin bacon for 3 sausages. If you have a half sheet pan like professional kitchens use (actually they use full sheet pans), line it with parchment paper and place all of your bacon-wrapped smokies in the pan. Cover liberally with brown sugar. Pop in oven and bake for one full hour. The sugar will be fabulously caramelized. Turn the wiener over so the glazed side is up for serving and for heaven sake don't leave them sitting in the pan full of rendered bacon fat, as they will be greasy.
I made these for New Year's Eve and was going to add some cayenne to the brown sugar so we'd enjoy some sweet heat, but since peppered bacon was used I decided not to push it. Next time...
Finally, thanks to Kathy Curtis for taking these to a holiday party and giving me the recipe. Kathy, you're the bomb!