Earlier today on Facebook I mentioned that I was doing a foodsperiment by wrapping some of my scallops in bacon and some of my scallops in turkey bacon. The purpose of this exercise was to see whether an especially low fat turkey bacon would make a good wrap for scallops. Here I present the findings of my research.
First, I must apologize for not including a photo. As often happens, we were hungry and tucked into the scallops almost immediately. I like to take pix of my food, but did not have the energy to try to set up an attractive arrangement. Presentation is, admittedly, not my strong suit in cooking.
Why do this at all? Because scallops are a good and delicious source of protein, which I would like to get more of at meal time. Scallops taste great wrapped in bacon, and this method of preparation makes them both easier to keep on a skewer and allows them to cook more evenly. However, the fat in the bacon makes this a less attractive dish from a diet perspective. Turkey bacon is half the calories (this particular brand) and so I wanted to see what the difference was.
Back to the research. I had 2 lbs of dry boat-run sea scallops. I had a pound of Oscar Mayer bacon. and a pound of Oscar Mayer turkey bacon.
WRAPPING and SKEWERING
Wrapping the scallops was slightly easier with the turkey bacon. Every slice is the same, and it's less important where you skewer the bacon. However, real bacon is slightly stretchier, which gives the sense that you're making a tighter wrap. Still, the advantage here goes to turkey bacon.
On the grill, both kinds of bacon shrunk slightly, tending to hug the scallops, giving them more structural integrity and a better presentation. Regular bacon takes longer to cook, probably because of moisture content.
Regular bacon becomes slightly more solid, so it turns out that concerns over where you skewer the bacon (through a meaty part or a fatty part) are not too relevant.
One huge difference between the two is the amount of fat that drips on to the grill. Unfortunately, the real bacon renders a lot of fat which can catch fire in the grill. Large amounts of burning bacon fat can cause soot to deposit on the scallops. Greasy soot is an unpleasant grilling product; avoid the scallops from touching flames. This is much easier to do with the turkey bacon.
Advantage turkey bacon.
Turkey bacon cooks up somewhat similar to strips of bologna. This is actually better than it sounds. The finished color is reddish brown and each wrap came out a consistent width because of the similarity of the artificial bacon.
Real bacon is more variable, and presents a varied appearance in how it cooks. Where two scallops touch, the bacon stays soft, fatty, and pale. On the other hand, where the bacon is cooked on the external sides, it looks like scrumptious fried bacon.
This is a toss up.
The variability of real bacon, and the variability in how cooked it gets makes it difficult to compare texture. The real bacon will have very cooked spots and soft, fatty parts. Turkey bacon has a slightly rough, chewy mouthfeel.
However, the richness of the bacon fat fills your mouth with flavor. The advantage here is with the real bacon.
As you might imagine, turkey bacon cannot compete with true bacon in the flavor department. This comparison goes to real bacon.
The question here was not only to compare these two preparations, but to get a sense of how different they were, and whether turkey bacon could perform satisfactorily. I am interested in answering these questions:
In addition, the lack of large quantities of rendered fat in the grill means it is easier to cook the turnkey bacon scallops.
I would use turkey bacon again and, considering caloric intake, will probably prefer to have turkey bacon wrapped scallops. It's bacon-wrapped scallops with slightly less guilt, but all the scallopy goodness you expect.Posted by James at July 12, 2010 1:31 AM