Put down your frying pan and grab a package of napkins, because it's time to unveil the winner of Doug's Drool-inducing Bacon Recipe Contest.
By way of background, this is the contest I launched last week, because, after the Christmas holidays I discovered I'd been given two savoury copies of the I (Heart) Bacon 2014 Wall Calendar and my journalistic instincts told me to give one away to a deserving reader.
What I asked of you, the bacon-loving readers, was to email your favourite recipes featuring cured, smoked pork as the starring ingredient in exchange for a chance to win the bonus bacon calendar, along with some other swell prizes I'll tell you about in a few minutes.
First, let me say you readers did an outstanding job responding to this contest. In fact, I am having a difficult time writing these words right now because my fingers keep slipping off the keyboard, which, after reading through dozens and dozens of entries, is coated with a thick layer of drool.
Inspired by the chance to win a bacon calendar -- Sample trivia: "Almost half the fat in bacon is the 'good fat' that can actually help lower cholesterol" -- readers deluged me with recipes for everything from Pig Candy and Bacon Brittle to Brussels Sprouts & Bacon, Bacon Cheese Balls and Bacon-wrapped Mac-and-Cheese-stuffed Meat Loaf.
This contest has taught me a couple of vital life lessons, namely: 1) Many of you have stopped taking your prescription medications; and 2) If you hold a contest and brag that you love bacon more than anyone else in the world, a lot of readers will want to tear a strip off you.
For instance, instead of sending in bacon recipes, some readers just pointed out that I was an idiot because obviously no one could love bacon as much as them. As reader Sheila Henderson put it: "I love bacon more than you. I eat it by the bowl when I'm blue. There is no better cure for the blues than wrapping up in a warm blanket in bed with a huge bowl of bacon! Have you even tried that?" Well, Sheila, the truth is, no, I have never swaddled myself in bacons and pigged out on bacon from a big, greasy bowl, but I am definitely going to put that on my to-do list for 2014.
As always, I subjected each entry to a gruelling judging process wherein I examined them to see if they contained cash and/or bacon, then read each one to my wife while making judge-like comments, such as: "Here's an entry." And: "Here is another entry."
Which somehow brings us to our grand-prize winner, which is the recipe for Sweet and Salty Chocolate Covered Bacon, sent in by Maureen Kolodie.
According to Maureen, what you need to do is cook 12 thick-sliced bacon strips in a frying pan. Once crispy, take it out, pat dry, cut each slice in half, then thread the slices onto wooden skewers.
In your microwave, melt six ounces of white candy coating (chopped), stir until smooth. Then blend in a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a tablespoon of shortening. Melt and stir until smooth.
At this crucial point, Maureen advises: "Instead of brushing the melted chocolate on the bacon, just dip it in the chocolate or other candy coating, give it a little tap on the edge of the bowl and place on waxed paper-covered baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm. Store in refrigerator.
"I hope you will give this a try. It is sooooooo yummy!"
Speaking as an overweight newspaper columnist with Type 2 diabetes, yes, Maureen, it definitely sounds "yummy!" I'm sure my wife will enjoy serving it to her guests when I lapse into a grease- and sugar-induced coma.
But that's not my point. My point is Maureen's sweet and savoury recipe is the winner of my extra copy of the I (Heart) Bacon 2014 Wall Calendar, along with a copy of my cheesy book, Bite-Sized Doug, and two tickets to see one of my favourite comedians, Danny Bhoy, at the Centennial Concert Hall.
As if that wasn't enough swag, after reading about the contest, the folks at Manitoba Pork kicked in a gift basket stuffed with awesome items, including recipes, foam stress pigs, bacon-flavoured toothpicks (really), pens, barbecue sauce and rub, to name just a few.
Congratulations, Maureen, and thanks to everyone who entered. And remember: There's no such thing as too much bacon.
Your doctors might disagree, but only because they don't have a cool wall calendar to make their heart skip a beat... or stop it entirely.