I'll admit, it's not my pork product of choice. Blame the breakfast sausage links that seduced me at a young age—or, better yet, the recent proliferation of pork belly in restaurants across the nation. (If, as they say in When Harry Met Sally, "pesto is the quiche of the 80s," then pork belly is certainly the pesto of the new millennium.)
That being said, I still respect a good piece of bacon. For instance, this thick-cut, dry cured, applewood smoked bacon from Niman Ranch. It has the pedigree to stand alone, but, looking to gild the lily, I sprinkled on a mixture of brown sugar, cayenne and black pepper, which melted and caramelized into a sweet-spicy glaze. It was boutique bacon of the best sort.
Adapted from Gourmet
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound thick-cut bacon (about 12 slices)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together brown sugar, cayenne, and black pepper in a small bowl.
Arrange bacon slices in 1 layer on rack of a large broiler pan. Bake 20 minutes. Turn slices over and sprinkle evenly with spiced sugar. Continue baking until bacon is crisp and deep golden, 20 to 35 minutes more (check bacon every 5 minutes). Transfer to paper towels to drain.