Before You Eat That Next Pound of Crispy Bacon, Want to Find Out How It's Made?

Before You Eat That Next Pound of Crispy Bacon, Want to Find Out How It's Made?

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A video from the North American Meat Institute reveals the whole process, with no sugar-coating

Bacon — ah, let us count the ways…

The thing about bacon, though, is that no matter how much of it at least some of us eat on an all-too-frequent basis, we probably don't know all that much about how it's made. We know that it's cured or smoked or something. But how does it get from the animal to those shrink-wrapped packages at the A&P (or the butcher-paper-swaddled ones at the farmers market or artisanal meat shop)?

Doing a little research on precisely that subject recently, we came across a nifty little video called "Makin' Bacon: Inside the Processing of America's Favorite Meat Candy," made by the North American Meat Institute, a national trade organization representing companies that process 95 percent of the red meat and 70 percent of the turkey products in the United States. We thought it did a very efficient job of quickly but clearly explaining the steps involved in producing this food we all love so much, and they kindly agreed to let us share it with our readers.

For more on bacon, see the Meat Institute's Bacon Guide — and for much, much more about meat and poultry (including a video tour of a beef-processing plant with legendary animal welfare advocate Temple Grandin), see the Institute's YouTube page.

Precooked Bacon: Why You Should Never Buy It

We know we've been on a bit of a bacon kick lately. We suspect you're all pretty much okay with it. Between our guide on how to cook bacon, our catalogue of bacon mistakes we've all made and our ode to all things wrapped in bacon, we realized something truly horrifying: some of you are buying precooked bacon.

We understand all the reasons that fully cooked, shelf stable, prepackaged bacon sounds appealing -- there's no mess to clean up, it's quick and convenient. But at what cost, you guys? Here are eight of the best reasons we can think of to never buy pre-cooked bacon again.

8. They have to assure you that it is 100% real bacon.

There are times in life when you need to ask yourself, "what else would it be??"

7. You can eat it right out of the package, like unrefrigerated meat chips.

Tyson says, "Warm it up if you like, or enjoy it straight from the package in sandwiches, salads, main dishes and more." No. No thank you. No.

6. It's faster to prepare than toast.

Schwan's says, "Whether you like it super crispy, or chewy and meaty, our fully-cooked bacon is perfect every time in 60 seconds. That’s faster than the toast!" GUYS. Bacon is meat. Meat SHOULD take longer to cook than toast! Also, let's just be honest with each other: bacon is glorious, fortifying and delicious, but one thing bacon is not -- healthy. You shouldn't just be able to snack on it like popcorn. It should take some effort.

5. This is precooked bacon's predecessor.

Don't let these people win. (via Imgur)

4. WHAT is in this stuff??

Every major producer of precooked bacon lists these as the "curing ingredients." It just feels suspicious. If someone won't tell you what goes into making a product, we are wary of that product.

3. Because it leads to stuff like this being invented.

Yeah, don't adjust your monitors, that is canned bacon. Bacon in a can. Congratulations, you guys. You did it.

2. Know what you can't do with precooked bacon? THIS.

Yeah. (via Imgur)

1. When you eat precooked bacon, you are missing out on a vital part of the bacon experience. Bacon fat.

We've harped on this before, and we're likely to do it again, but bacon fat is a precious resource that shouldn't be discarded without consideration. That stout mason jar in the photo above is your ticket to perfectly braised greens, the best cornbread you've ever eaten and the best tasting stewed beans.

Also, does bacon taste as good without the sizzle in the pan, the smell in the air, the anticipation as it cooks? Aren't there some times when instant gratification actually cheats us out of experiences? We don't think so. We're hoping we can convince you to agree.

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Sonic's Bacon Jam Cheeseburger

Courtesy of Sonic

In March, the drive-in chain unleashed this bacon-forward burger onto the world and it's one you may want to stay away from. Sure, it sounds delicious—made with a quarter pound of beef, American cheese, crispy bacon, and a sweet and savory bacon jam, and topped off with mayo and mustard, all on a toasted brioche bun—but nutritionist Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT highlights just how unhealthy it is.

"At 700 calories per burger, you'll get about 300 calories more than the average person should get in an entire meal to maintain their weight—and that's before you add a drink or fries," she says. Plus, it has 16 grams of saturated fat, so you'll end up reaching and possibly surpassing your daily limit in just one meal (16-22 grams).

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We like to serve our sweet and spicy candied bacon as an appetizer with beer and cocktails but here are our other favorite ways to use this addicting bacon treat:

  • Top your favorite Wedge Saladto take it totally next level
  • Add to THIS Soup for a burst of savory flavor
  • ThisPear Saladis so totally extra with a sprinkle of candied bacon.
  • Layer it on your favorite BLTfor an updated twist!

This Sweet and Spicy Candied Bacon (Millionaire’s Bacon) is the best thing since…well, bacon. I, really, didn’t think bacon could get any better but it can…and it did.

It makes gift giving totally easy when you skip the cookies and fill a cookie tin with Millionaire’s Bacon. Your host or hostess won’t want you to leave….like EVER.

If you just want bacon….just pure and simple bacon…..make sure to try this method for the most perfect, crispy bacon you’ll ever sink your teeth into!

Here’s a pork belly, fat-side up.

Here’s a pork belly, skin-side down. You can see where the full belly was cut off the ribs (those little fingery looking lines in the belly).

Here’s a pork belly in cross-section. Ah, now the bacony potential becomes apparent!

2. Trim Belly As Necessary

If you belly came with skin-on, carefully trim away the skin, leaving as much fat as possible. Mine came skin-off so I didn’t have to do this step.

Trim off any particularly thick membranes on the underside of the belly where the ribs connected. Smoke typically doesn’t permeate thick membranes like that, and they don’t break down with cooking, so they are like eating a rubber band. Below-right on this photo shows the belly before trimming top-left shows it after trimming.

3. Cut Belly into Manageable Size Pieces

You could cure and smoke a whole belly, but you’ll need more specialty equipment. Cutting this 12-pound belly in thirds gave me pieces just the right size to fit into gallon-size ziptop bags. That’ll make life easier at cure time.

It’s important that your cure be properly calibrated to the amount of meat you are curing. The recipe in this post is designed for 4 pounds of pork belly (give or take a few ounces). If you cure a different amount, you must adjust the cure amounts accordingly.

4. Prepare Cure

Combine all cure ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Measure carefully and be particularly precise about the Pink Salt.

This is how the Pink Salt comes packaged.

5. Rub That Cure On Yer Meat

Really get in there and work the salt and sugar and spices into the belly. Give it a little massage and talk sweetly to it. This belly is going to be your bacon, after all.

6. Bag, Wait, Flip, Wait

Put your cure-rubbed pork belly in a large, heavy-duty ziptop bag. If any cure fell off the belly, throw it in the bag, too. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can without doing something gross with a straw, and seal it well.

Now, put your curing belly in the refrigerator. Soon, the salt and sugar will mingle with the juice from the pork and form a thick kind-of brine around the belly. Every day, more or less, turn the belly over so that all sides have equal time with the cure. This is why the ziptop bag is so great: you just flip the whole thing over without opening it. Give your pork belly seven to ten days to cure. After a week it should feel quite firm, but still pliable if you bend it. If it still feels soft, you can cure it for another day and check again.

7. Rinse Your Cured Pork Belly

After the pork belly is sufficiently cured, remove it from the bag and rinse it well. Some peppercorns may be stuck into the fat a bit and that’s ok, but do try to get most of the cure off the meat. This photo is from another batch of bacon I made with fresh garlic. Ignore the garlic hunks.

8. Check Pork Belly Flavor

When you are still getting the hang of how cured you want your bacon, it’s a good idea to do a taste-test before smoking. Although the bacon is cured at this point, it’s still raw, and, for a number of food safety reasons, I recommend cooking it before tasting. Just cut off a small sliver of the bacon and cook it gently.

If your reaction to the bacon is, “Wow, this tastes a lot like really good bacon!” then – excellent! – proceed to the next step. If your reaction is “Did I just eat a salt-lick?!” then your bacon may be slightly overcured. Remember you want something very flavorful, but if it’s excessively salty, you can fix it! Just soak your belly in cold water for a few hours and do the taste test again. The excess salt should be tamed.

9. Dry The Belly To Form A Pellicle

Here’s a fun fact about me: one of my favorite words is pellicle. A pellicle is the dry, tacky skin on meat or fish necessary for good smoking. Basically, moist meat doesn’t take smoke color or flavor very well, so before we smoke our bacon we have to dry it out.

The easiest way to do this is to put the bacon on a cooling rack over a sheet pan and pop in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight. But I was impatient so I invoked a fan. It took about an hour to fully dry the meat with a fan assist like this, but don’t rush it. You want that nice, tacky-dry surface. I dried one batch on a cooling rack, and another right on the smoking rack that came with my Little Chief Smoker.

10. Smoke Your Bacon!

Okay, here’s where the magic happens. Prepare your smoker, grill, or whatever you are using to smoke your bacon. Get some nice hardwood smoke happening and then load your bacon. Keep the temperature in your smoker between 200 and 225 degrees as much as possible. Periodically check the chips and top up if necessary, but also pay attention to how much smoke color and aroma your bacon is developing. You may want to ease back on the smoke towards the end. I did.

11. Check – Is Your Bacon Done?

Bacon is done when the internal temperature is 150-degrees F (this bacon slab got there just after I snapped the pic below) and the bacon looks like lacquered love. In a good, efficient smoker this should take about two hours. In my smoker it took more like four hours.

Sidenote: Why 150-degrees?

At 150-degrees internal temperature, the bacon is glistening and lovely and the meat is fully cooked. However, very little of the fat has melted – most is still intact, so when you slice the bacon for later pan-frying, it looks like this:

I overshot on one of my bacon slabs and didn’t end up pulling it out of the smoker until it had an internal temperature of 180-degrees. That’s a big difference! The result was that the fat layers were starting to liquify and the meat was taking on a slow-braised quality, like this:

Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea – this bottom example bacon was still unbelievably delicious. Even bad bacon, as they say, is pretty good, and this was still worlds better than anything store bought. However, this shows why 150-degrees is our bacon temperature sweet spot.

12. Eat Your Bacon

At this point, your bacon is fully cooked and you can, if you desire, start eating it. However, if you are a typical American bacon eater, you will probably want to pan-fry or oven roast a few slices to crispy, chewy perfection.

Slice as you desire – as thin as I could confidently slice made hunking thick-cut bacon slices of magnitude. Cook this bacon gently – give it time over medium or medium-low heat and it will reward you.

No joke: best bacon I’ve ever eaten. Seriously, what are you waiting for?

What Is Pork Jowl Bacon?

According to the USDA, bacon typically means cured pork belly. However, bacon can come from other parts of the pig, including the jowls, which you may know better as the cheeks.

Pork jowl may be available fresh. But like traditional bacon, pork jowl bacon needs to undergo a curing and smoking process in order to be called bacon. After the meat has been skinned and trimmed, the pork jowls are cured with salt and nitrites. Then the meat is heat processed and smoked to add flavor.

Like regular bacon, jowl bacon is high in calories and fat and not a very good source of protein. A 0.5 ounce serving of pork jowl bacon has 100 calories, 1 gram of protein, 10 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 125 milligrams of sodium. Because bacon contains more fat than protein, the National Institutes of Health classifies bacon as a fat on their food exchange list.

Healthiest Bacon to Buy & Eat

Bacon. It's crispy, smoky, flavorful, down right yummy. Healthy? Well not quite. Bacon is never going to win any awards as a health food. Sorry it's never going to be considered a "superfood" as much as you would like it. But we can make bacon choices that will be "healthier" for our bodies and "tastier" for our tongues. This post is a guide to buying the "Healthiest Bacon".

I have 5 rules to "healthier bacon".

1. Buy uncured bacon
2. Keep turkey bacon open as an option
3. Buy high quality bacon with a higher price
4. Buy center cut bacon
5. Buy local if you can

Oscar Mayer now offers bacon that does not contain any added nitrates or nitries except for those occurring in celery juice.

1. Buy uncured bacon

The first thing I want to look for when trying to eat healthier bacon is to buy uncured bacon. This is bacon that has not had any added sodium nitrate to it. This is what most bacon makers as to their bacon to preserve and color the bacon - gives it that nice bright pink color. A lot of places are going the route now of using more natural options such as celery juice which has naturally occurring nitrates. Some people believe that nitrates are cancer causing.

**UPDATE** Since I originally wrote this post a lot more have been written about nitrates from celery. Are they really any better for us? There is a lot of people and research that suggests that it's not any better coming from a natural source. Companies are doing it just for the sake of appearing more healthy or "natural". I say look at the ingredient list of what you are buying. Try to understand the best you can what those ingredients are and what you feel comfortable with putting in your body. I would never recommend eating bacon everyday to begin with - just to enjoy in moderation.

Another uncured bacon from Hormel. They were one of the first companies to come out with "uncured meats".

Turkey bacon available at Trader Joe's.

2. Keep turkey bacon open as an option

We like bacon because of the fat. Plenty of fat makes it taste good. But can we cut out some of the fat and still have something tasty? That is certainly up to debate. Turkey bacon will never have the same crispiness as bacon made with pork - it just won't. I am someone who doesn't mind bacon not being super crisp, in fact I like it just before it really crisp. While it will never be the same thing it still isn't bad along side a stack of pancakes. Look for the Uncured Turkey Bacon from Trader Joe's.

Oscar Mayer's Turkey Bacon

Niman Ranch is one of the best meat producers in the country. Everything I have tried of theirs has been high quality.

3. Buy high quality bacon with a higher price

This is the same thing I use when it comes to chocolate. If a buy a higher quality thus more expensive bar of chocolate, it's much easier to be satisfied than buying a cheaper Hershey bar where you devour the thing in a flash. When you go for the good stuff, the best tasting, high quality bacon, that comes with a higher price tag, you more likely to think twice when going back for another helping. When you pay $9.99 a pound for a package of bacon, you're going to think about it more before you eat it all up. $2.99 a pound. no problem eating it all. Portion control a lot easier when you have a "larger investment" in your bacon. Two of my favorite brands to look out for are Nueske's and Niman Ranch.

4. Buy center cut bacon

Have you ever seen a package of bacon labeled "center cut"? Not always easy to find, if you do give it a try. I usually get my center cut bacon from Meijer. Why bother? This bacon is cut from the center of the pork belly. The center is leaner and meatier. Less fat but still plenty of flavor and it still will crisp up nice enough for you.

5. Buy Local

If you have the opportunity, buy your bacon from a local farmer. That way you can talk to the farmer, know exactly what is going into your food. A Google search or a check of your local farmers market is a great way to find a local source. I discovered Alley Farms at a farmers market near me. They were filling the air up with the smell of their delicious bacon.

Bonus Tip

I already mentioned Trader Joe's for their turkey bacon, but what I really like to buy there is their Applewood Smoked Ends and Pieces Uncured Bacon. This is what it sounds like the ends and pieces of bacon that were cut off for their regular apple wood smoked bacon. You get a good deal and the bacon is flavorful. Sometimes you get some nearly whole strips. Sometimes you get some really thick fatty pieces that I don't like to eat - yet they render a lot of fat that I save for other purposes (like cooking brussels sprouts in it!)

Before You Toss Food, Wait. Check It Out!

It’s happened to all of us: you’re looking for something in the freezer or pantry, and discover food that has been forgotten. Your first impulse is to throw it out, but wait! Is it still good? Chances are it is!

Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long a food is frozen, it is safe to eat. Foods that have been in the freezer for months (recommended freezer times chart) may be dry, or may not taste as good, but they will be safe to eat. So if you find a package of ground beef that has been in the freezer more than a few months, don’t throw it out. Use it to make chili or tacos. The seasonings and additional ingredients can make up for loss of flavor.

What about the foods in your pantry? Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling). Packaged foods (cereal, pasta, cookies) will be safe past the ‘best by’ date, although they may eventually become stale or develop an off flavor. You’ll know when you open the package if the food has lost quality. Many dates on foods refer to quality, not safety. See FSIS’ Shelf-Stable Food Safety fact sheet for more information.

USDA is doing its part to help consumers keep food from going to waste. The Food Safety and Inspection Service is collaborating with the Food Marketing Institute and Cornell University to update the online Foodkeeper storage guide, which contains storage information on a wide variety of foods. We are also developing a mobile application for the Foodkeeper to provide consumers with another user-friendly option to access good searchable information on food storage, proper storage temperatures, food product dating, and expiration dates. Before you throw out food from your pantry or freezer, check it out. It may be just fine!

6 ways to dress up pound cake

Pound cake is a hard cake not to love. Moist, tender, and rich, every bite is dense and decadent. Redolent of butter, sugar, and vanilla, it tastes like a simple, classic yellow layer cake, but somehow more so, as if you condensed the cake's flavor and multiplied it tenfold.

Happily, pound cake is exceptionally easy to bake and nearly foolproof. Since a successful pound cake needs to be neither airy nor delicate, it's hard to mess up the batter. Named for the traditional proportions of ingredients – a pound of butter + a pound of flour + a pound of sugar + a pound of eggs – modern pound cakes riff a bit on the historical formula.

One of our readers' best-loved versions is our Golden Vanilla Pound Cake recipe, which relies on a bit of cream cheese to give the batter a tangy richness. A crunchy sugared crust sets this cake apart, too: You'll bake it for nearly an hour before removing it from the oven, brushing on a mixture of water, sugar, and vanilla extract, then baking it for 20 more minutes.

Before you bake, keep these tips in mind.

Pound cake tips

  • Be sure to use a large enough pan! Unless the recipe calls for this specific size, a standard loaf pan (8 1/2" x 4 1/2") is too small. You need a medium loaf pan (9" x 5" x 2 3/4") or a tea loaf pan (12" x 4" x 2 1/2"). You can also use a tube pan or a bundt pan.
  • Beat thoroughly between the addition of each egg. The batter might look a little curdled, but persevere. You want each egg to be well-incorporated before adding more liquid, so beat for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute after each egg.
  • Place the cake pan on a baking sheet for baking. It's slightly messy to brush (or pour) the vanilla syrup over the warm cake at the end of the recipe, so it's smart to place the cake pan on a sheet to catch any drips.

This cake is very good plain. Dangerously good, I might say. For instance, if you were to offer me a slice that you had stashed in your freezer, I would certainly not say no. And I'd eat it standing up in the kitchen with my fingers, with complete disregard for the crumbs I'd drop on your floor. But that's neither here nor there.

So you can enjoy it as is, but I think the real beauty of a pound cake lies in its versatility. You can dress up a pound cake in so many ways. It's easy to make ahead and keeps well, making it an ideal dinner party dessert option. Bake the cake a few days ahead and wrap it in plastic wrap. When you're ready to serve, place individual slices on plates and try one (or more!) of our excellent ideas for toppings.

Basic pound cake toppings

1. Fresh strawberries + whipped cream + torn mint leaves

2. Lemon curd + chopped toasted pistachios

3. Chopped peaches + whipped cream + Demerara sugar

4. Fresh blueberries + simple syrup

5. A scoop of vanilla ice cream + chocolate sauce

6. Sliced bananas + toasted coconut + honey

And don't stop there! Use your favorite flavors as a starting point. Think about balancing sweetness with texture. Use nuts for crunch, and yogurt or whipped cream for creaminess. Add fruit or herbs for a bright, fresh contrast to the dense cake.

Creative pound cake toppings

Use your pound cake as a blank canvas!

  • Try a drizzle of tahini with cardamom and a handful of granola.
  • Make a quick streusel with oats, butter, flour, and brown sugar and top your cake with it and fresh raspberries.
  • Fold toasted pecans into a mixture of mascarpone cheese, lemon zest, and sweetened Greek yogurt, and spoon it over your cake.
  • Grill a slice of cake lightly, then grill some stone fruit, and top the cake with the grilled fruit and ice cream.
  • Make a perfect summer ice cream sandwich. Toast two thin slices of cake and sandwich a scoop of blackberry frozen yogurt in the middle.

There's no end of delicious ways to enjoy pound cake, and we're always looking for more inspiration. We'd love to hear your ideas for dressing up pound cake! Let us know in the comments how you like to enjoy a slice.

The Ultimate New Orleans Food Bucket List

To eat in New Orleans is to experience the most vibrant and unique culture within our nation’s borders. New Orleanians do not eat to live, they live to eat, and their love for food is infectious. The city’s “let the good times roll” attitude and hospitable nature are demonstrated by locals’ eagerness to show visitors what makes their food second to none.

While the city’s culinary scene is rooted in savory, soulful Creole and Cajun foods, it is constantly evolving to adopt new flavors and cuisines. Since one could spend an entire lifetime eating in the Big Easy without tasting a bad meal, it can often be difficult to navigate the plethora of restaurants and dishes. Therefore, we’ve crafted this extensive list of 50 things you must eat in New Orleans before you die. Just don’t expect to leave the city (or conquer this list) without gaining a few pounds…

1. Beignets at Cafe du Monde

Tourists from far and wide pack the walls of famous Cafe du Monde daily to sample this quintessential New Orleans treat. These fried dough fritters topped with powdered sugar absolutely must be accompanied by a hot cup of cafe-au-lait. There’s simply no other way.

2. Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake at Jacques-Imo’s

Photo courtesy of yelp.com

Nothing says welcome to the Bayou like some good ol’ gator. This famous quiche-like appetizer stuffed with alligator sausage and shrimp, and topped with a rich and creamy mustard sauce is the perfect start to a Southern feast.

3. Bananas Foster at Brennan’s

Photo courtesy of brennansneworleans.com

What better place to sample this dessert, made of flambéed bananas, vanilla ice cream, and a sauce of brown sugar, cinnamon, rum, and banana liqueur, than the restaurant where it was born?

4. Grilled Cauliflower Steak at Domenica

Photo courtesy of bonappetit.com

Okay, we know veggies might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think New Orleans cuisine, but this whole grilled cauliflower is unlike any vegetable you’ve ever had. Also, don’t be ashamed if you find yourself eating the side of whipped feta by the spoonful.

5. Blueberry & Brie Waffle at Biscuits & Buns on Banks

Serious props to the genius who conceived this divine flavor combo. Between the gooey melted brie, warm and tart blueberries, and perfectly fluffy waffles, you’ll be on cloud nine after the very first bite.

6. Maiz de la Rueda at Maïs Arepas

Translating to “corn wheel,” this traditional Mexican corn-on-the-cob dish, topped with spicy butter, salsa rosado, and cotija cheese, will leave you wanting más más más.

7. Fried Shrimp Po-Boy at Domilise’s

Photo courtesy of seriouseats.com

The components of a quality po-boy? A fluffy french bread loaf overflowing with fried seafood or meat, and dressed with shredded lettuce, tomato, and mayo. If you’re looking for a true classic, get yourself a fried shrimp po-boy from this near 100 year-old establishment.

8. Double Chocolate Bread Pudding at Red Fish Grill

Photo courtesy of twofatbellies.com

If death by chocolate was a thing, this sinful dessert would surely kill you. This dessert is so exquisite that it must be ordered ahead of time, with your meal. All your troubles will drift away as you watch the waiter pour the melted white and dark chocolate all over your already decadent bread pudding.

9. Fried Chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House

Photo courtesy of Joone on flickr.com

This iconic family-run restaurant serves up a variety of traditional southern delicacies, but their famous “America’s best” fried chicken is what people come from all over to taste. With golden, crispy breading surrounding the juicy, dense meat, this is exactly how all fried chicken should be.

10. Samoa Donut at District Donuts. Sliders. Brew

Bet you didn’t know that your favorite girl scout cookie was even better as a doughnut. Bite into the light, airy dough and out will pour the rich coconut cream, making all your dreams come true.

11. Shrimp & Grits at Lüke

Photo courtesy of vxla on flickr.com

While you can sample this southern classic at numerous restaurants throughout the city, no one masters this dish quite like Chef John Besh, who combines fresh gulf shrimp, creamy and rich grits, mascarpone cheese, and spicy Creole seasonings to provide a sensory experience with every bite.

12. Crispy Chicken Confit & French Toast at Apolline

An unlikely pair, a crispy chicken leg & warm maple-butter french toast come together harmoniously in Chef Matt Farmer’s unique twist on the classic chicken & waffles brunch dish that has risen to popularity in recent years.

13. Laurence Fish Burger at Cowbell

Photo courtesy of yelp.com

A secret of this burger joint is its special burger composed of red fish and gulf shrimp topped with spicy remoulade and sprouts, which is available only on Friday’s. If you save enough room you’ll surely want to try their heavenly mac and cheese, as well.

14. Praline Beignets at Loretta’s Authentic Pralines

You may have had a beignet before, or sampled the sugary crunch of a praline, but the fusion of these two treats is like nothing you’ve ever tasted. The experience of biting into this warm, fluffy, gooey goodness is 100% worth the sugar coma that follows.

15. Turtle Soup at Commander’s Palace

Photo courtesy of nola.eater.com

Not only is Commander’s regarded as the ultimate fine-dining experience, but this New Orleans institution is also one of the last few restaurants in the country to serve up this once popular Southern delicacy consisting of a thick, rich stew, turtle meat (which is said to embody the flavor of seven types of meat), and an array of vegetables and spices.

16. Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding at Boucherie

Photo courtesy of yelp.com

Yes, you read that right. America’s favorite doughnut in bread pudding form. Chef Nathaniel Zimet once tried to retire this over-the-top dessert from the menu, as he found it too decadent, but due to public protest it still remains as one of the restaurant’s most popular menu items today.

17. Pita Bread & Curry Fried Cauliflower Hummus at Shaya

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to bite into a cloud? Maybe you haven’t, but by tasting this exquisitely fluffy pita bread you’ll never have to wonder. Pair it with one of his exotic hummuses, like curry fried cauliflower, and you’ve got quite the tag team. The avocado toast with smoked whitefish is also an absolute must.

18. Charbroiled Oysters at Drago’s

Photo courtesy of leighklotz on flickr.com

This seafood restaurant’s claim to fame? Mouthwatering oysters grilled in their shells over an open fire and topped with melted butter, garlic, cheese, and seasoning. There’s simply no better way to consume oysters.

19. Le Pig Mac at Cochon Butcher

Photo courtesy of Christophe Jammet flickr.com

Move aside Big Mac. This double pork patty topped with cheese, lettuce, pickles, and “special sauce” is almost too much to handle. Key word: Almost.

20. Blue Crab Beignets at La Petit Grocery

Photo courtesy of bonappetit.com

This James Beard Award-winning restaurant serves up elegant French and New Orleans style dishes with a twist. Their savory seafood take on the classic sweet beignet is something you absolutely won’t want to miss.

21. Aebleskeivers at Toast

Photo by Sara Alice Witcher

What’s better than a hot stack of pancakes? How bout some fluffy spherical pancakes served with your choice caramel sauce, Nutella, or maple syrup? No need to take a trip to Europe to sample this Danish breakfast treat.

22. Whole Fish at Peche

Photo courtesy of findyourcraving.com

Named the Best New Restaurant in America in 2014, Peche serves the tastiest seafood you can imagine. While you’ll essentially be in food heaven ordering anything here, why not go big with a whole fish for the table?

23. Jambalaya at Mother’s

Photo courtesy of forkandcamera.com

This Creole dish, which can be thought of as paella’s distant cousin, is comprised of the “holy trinity” (onion, celery, and bell pepper), tomatoes, rice, stock, a multitude of seasonings and meat, seafood, or both. While you can find versions of this emblematic New Orleans dish throughout the city, Mother’s has it perfected.

23. Muffuletta at Central Grocery

Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com

NOLA’s classic Italian sandwich was invented at this French Quarter speciality market over 100 years ago. Layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, ham, and provolone make up this sandwich. Given the monstrous side, you may want to enlist help in conquering this beast.

24. Lavender Honey Ice Cream at Creole Creamery

Photo courtesy of foodspotting.com

Fear not, the taste of this unusual flavor is not reminiscent of hand soap. Instead it has a light, floral taste will keep you coming back for more.

25. BBQ Shrimp at Pascal’s Manale

Photo courtesy of tuadmissionjeff.blogspot.com

This flavorful seafood dish is responsible for bringing fame to this Uptown neighborhood restaurant for decades. Perfectly cooked and bursting with sweet and spicy flavor, we promise you’ve never had shrimp like this.

26. Yellowfin Tuna Cones at Sobou

Photo courtesy of unmotivating.com

This unique appetizer, comprised of avocado basil ice cream and yellowfin pineapple tartare, is so good that it’s landed a spot on Food & Wine’s list of the best avocado dishes in the America.

27. Praline Bacon at Elizabeth’s

Photo courtesy of bitcheswhobrunch.com

Locals, students, and tourists flock to this funky Bywater diner for creative, yet familiar Southern comfort food. We recommend the praline bacon for an ultimate salty vs. sweet showdown.

28. Cream of Nectar Sno-Ball at Hansen’s Sno Bliz

Photo courtesy of Elliot Mandel on flickr.com

While technically any flavor you order at this beloved NOLA establishment will be amazing, the Nectar flavor is one of the most popular, and if you don’t order it with condensed milk on top, you’re just plain silly.

29. Surf & Turf Po-Boy at Parkway Bakery & Tavern

Photo courtesy of neworleans.com

Your order at this famous Mid-City po-boy joint (which also happens to have Obama’s stamp of approval) is a no-brainer — the Surf & Turf Po-Boy, which brings you the best of both worlds, with slow-cooked roast beef AND golden fried shrimp.

30. Bananas Foster French Toast at Surrey’s

We’ve introduced you to Bananas Foster, and now it’s time for you to meet the equally decadent breakfast version. Because who says you can’t start the day with dessert?

31. Chef’s Special at Dat Dog

Photo by Michelle Delaney

Even if you’re not a hot dog person, you can certainly be a Dat Dog person. At this gourmet hot dog shop, the usually rubbery and mystery dog is replaced by a gourmet sausage, with options ranging from Italian, to kielbasa, to German, and so much more. Can’t decide what toppings you want? Opt for the Chef’s Special, which changes daily and never disappoints.

32. Gumbo at Galatoire’s

Photo courtesy of thefoodmonkey on flickr.com

This iconic dish is often what people first visualize when they imagine New Orleans food. The beauty of gumbo is not in its appearance, but rather in its rich, soulful flavors. At Galatoire’s crabmeat, shrimp, tomatoes, onions, celery, and okra make up the perfect Louisiana gumbo.

33. The Company Burger at The Company Burger

Photo courtesy of thrillist.com

This juicy patty topped with American cheese, homemade bread and butter pickles, and red onions, is so outstanding that Thrillist has declared it one of the best burgers in America.

34. Jewish Coonnass at Slim Goodies Diner

Photo courtesy of see-sip-taste-hear.blogspot.com

This hot mess of a plate just might be the best hangover cure in the world. Comprised of two potato latkes topped with eggs your way, spinach, crawfish etouffee, and a warm biscuit, the Jewish Coonass is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Honorable mention goes to the sweet potato pancakes, arguably the best you will ever have.

35. Brûléed Cinnamon Roll at District Hand Pie & Coffee Bar

If you walk into District in search of a killer hand pie, but can’t resist the glistening cinnamon roll staring at you, don’t feel guilty. It’s inevitable. Pair it with a Vietnamese iced coffee (on tap) and you’ve got a killer breakfast duo.

36. Bacos at Ba Chi Canteen

Photo by Harper Garfinkle

These Vietnamese tacos on a bao steamed bun are crazy good and super cheap, meaning you can try a few of the many different filling options. Our favorites include sweet chili shrimp and coconut curry chicken.

37. Baked Alaska at Antoine’s

Photo courtesy of wheretraveler.com

Ice cream encased in pound cake with torched meringue on top…. need we say more? Make sure to order this extravagant dessert in advance with your meal.

38. Eggs Atchafalaya at Atchafalaya

Photo courtesy of 30dayadventures.ca

Nowhere does brunch better than Atchafalaya (we’re talking live jazz performances and a full Bloody Mary bar). Get a true taste of the south by ordering Eggs Atchafalaya — fried green tomatoes topped with poached eggs, jumbo lump crabmeat, hollandaise and a side of potatoes.

39. Chicken Under a Brick at Dante’s Kitchen

Photo courtesy of yelp.com

Intrigued? The name comes from the cooking technique, as the chicken is cooked under a brick wrapped in tin foil. Maple glazed, served with a potato and bacon hash cake, and topped with a fried egg, this signature dish is an absolute home run.

40. Crawfish Monica at Jazz Fest

Photo courtesy of ww2.kqed.org

At this famous music and arts festival, the food is equally as spectacular as the musical performances. Crawfish is a Louisiana seafood staple, and there’s no better way to try it than in this creamy, spicy mac & cheese dish, which is unique to Jazz Fest. Dig in while listening to some of the world’s best musicians and you’ll think you landed in heaven.

41. Fried Alligator at Cochon

Photo courtesy of pikdit.com

Some say it tastes like chicken, others give it more of a pork taste, but only you can be the judge. Crispy fried in buttermilk batter and topped with chili garlic mayo, Cochon’s gator will have you falling in love with this tasty swamp creature.

42. Housemade Spaghetti at Herbsaint

At chef Donald Link’s award-winning flagship restaurant, French and Italian cooking with a Southern spin is the name of the game. Served in a thick creamy herb sauce with guanciale (similar to bacon) and a fried egg, this spaghetti is far from your typical pasta dish and makes the perfect lunch.

43. Pho at Pho Bistreaux

Photo by Sara Alice Witcher

Thanks to the prominent Vietnamese population in New Orleans, the city has no shortage of quality Vietnamese restaurants. Pho, the classic vermicelli noodle soup, served with meat, seafood, or tofu, is the truest form of comfort food.

44. Brisket at The Joint

Photo courtesy of cltampa.com

The laid back atmosphere of The Joint will make you feel like you’re at your neighbor’s backyard cookout. While anything off this meat-loving menu is sure to satisfy your barbecue cravings, the perfectly textured beef brisket with sides of mac & cheese and baked beans always wins.

45. King Cake at Tartine

Photo courtesy of nola.com

The official treat of Mardi Gras — King Cake — is made with cinnamon-filled dough shaped into a hollow circle topped with glazed frosting and colored sprinkles. Tradition holds that whoever finds the hidden plastic baby Jesus within the cake is not only blessed with good luck, but also must host the next King Cake party. While one can find delectable variations of this treat throughout the city, Tartine’s, filled with brown sugar and cream cheese is irresistible.

46. Chef’s Special Omelette at Camellia Grill

Photo courtesy of somewhereinamerica.com

Warning: this omelette is not for the weak. Loaded with turkey bacon, ham, potatoes, onions, and American and Swiss cheeses, AND topped with chili, this breakfast will keep you full for hours (days?). We suggest ordering the chili on the side so that you can truly taste the unique fluffy texture that Camellia Grill omelettes are known for.

47. Pear & Brie Melt at Satsuma

This sandwich is basically like skipping straight to dessert. Sliced pear, warm melty brie, walnut spread, and balsamic glaze come together beautifully in this sandwich to give you a perfect sweet and savory lunch.

48. Handmade Potato Gnocchi at Restaurant August

Photo courtesy of Darin on flickr.com

This upscale John Besh establishment is all about high quality ingredients, in simple but elegant plates, and his potato gnocchi is a prime example of this. Topped with blue crab and black truffle, this rich appetizer is full of flavor and is the perfect preview to an exquisite meal.

49. The Mac n Cheezy at The Big Cheezy

Behold the lovechild between your two childhood favorites — the Mac n Cheezy. Creamy, gooey mac & cheese, cheddar, and four-cheese bacon unite to create this absolutely dreamy sandwich.

50. Lemon Ice Box Pie at Wayfare

Well, after all that food, hopefully you’ve at least saved enough room for this miniature pie, which clearly should win the prize for most adorable dessert. Its small size makes it the perfect way to get your sweet fix at the end of a filling meal, and the creamy, tart taste will have you licking the plate clean.