Baseball fans love bacon. It’s a fact. Don’t believe me – then talk to Sam Levitt from the Gateway Grizzlies GCS Ballpark where bacon has been a star player on the Grizzlie's menu lineup since its Baseball’s Best Hot Dog topped with two strips of bacon was rolled out in the 2004 season.

“Bacon makes everything better. It’s on our Baseball’s Best Hot Dog and our Baseball’s Best Hamburger that’s been featured on the Food Network and Man Vs Food,” said Levitt noting that bacon hadn’t made its way on the Best Nachos, as yet. But what the heck; if you ask for bacon on the Grizzlies Best Nachos I’m sure you can get it. 

Bacon (aka pork belly) will no doubt make a showing at this weekend’s during GCS Ballpark Grill’ with Izzy's Big 4 BBQ Challenge, presented by the St. Louis BBQ Society. 

It’s a fitting time to think bacon it’s National Bacon Day, held the Saturday before Labor Day is a day and a weekend to fry, grill, bake or roast American favorite cut of pork. GCS Ballpark cooks plan to drape hundreds of burgers and dogs with America’s favorite slice of the hog. However, there are more things to do with bacon than make a sandwich or garnish a plate of over easy eggs. Just ask Ameristar Executive Chef Chis Ipanis with his Executive Sous Chef John Schlink who created three dishes for the recent Baconfest cook-off held two weeks ago at Soldiers Memorial downtown.

Chef Ipanis won first place and bragging rights for his Devils Cut Braised Pork Belly, a sophisticated dish that can be a little tricky but not impossible even for novice bacon fans to try. In honor of Bacon Day and as an alternative to the Labor Day menu Chef Ipanis has shared his winning recipe with STLSportsPage.com fans. 

 

Devils Cut Braised Pork Belly Recipe
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pork belly pork belly, skin on
1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1cup tomato paste
3 sprigs thyme
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup veal demi-glace, (found at Whole Foods or Trader Joes)
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups Jims Beam Devils Cut Whiskey

1. Heat oven to 275 F. Heat oil in large heavy bottom ovenproof pot over medium heat until the oil slides across the pan. Salt & pepper the pork, sear fat side first cook until both sides are caramelized.
2. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat and add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and sauté until tender. Add tomato paste and caramelize with vegetables for two minutes. Deglaze with whiskey, and then add pork back to pot, fat side up.
3. Add chicken stock, demi-glace, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer; cover pot with foil and place in pre-heated oven at 275 F.
4. Braise pork in oven for approximately three hours or until fork tender. When done allow pork to cool uncovered in braising liquid.
5. Remove pork cut down into 2x2 inch pieces, score fat with a crosshatch design. Heat peanut oil in sauté pan to medium hot, add pork, fat side (Crosshatch side) first. Crisp all sides evenly, pull pork out reserve to side of plate.
6. Strain braising liquid back into clean pot, add brown sugar and reduce by third. Sauce pork with whiskey braising glaze.

Editor note: This can be done on a covered smoker grill, which will provide a nice smoke flavor.