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Ever wish you could go back in time and slap yourself in the face for being so stupid? It definitely keeps me up at night, too. Sure, there are the usual things; idiotic things said in front of a lot of people, dates that went terribly, embarrassing moments… but for me, more than anything, I’d love to revisit myself at the family dinner table at 10 years old, complaining about how disgusting asparagus was.
If I could get just 10 seconds alone with that bratty little girl, I wouldn’t spend it talking. Instead, I’d fire one of these amazing bacon-wrapped smoked asparagus spears at her from across the living room like a javelin. I can imagine the look of shock and surprise on my own cross-eyed, stupid little face as the morsel landed in my agape mouth (maybe I’ve just watched Matilda too many times…), and then that look of shock turning to pure pleasure as I have a revelation at 10 years old that in reality it took me way too long to accept as a grown adult human: Asparagus is fricking delicious, and anything that can be wrapped in bacon is a perfect food group. Write it down, learn it, take it to the bank.
This meal was born of late summer barbecues in 2017, when we were honestly getting a little sick of eating so much pure meat. I mean, obviously not sick enough of it to eat our vegetables without a layer of delicious bacon wrapped around it, but still, a change is as good as a rest.
These asparagus are not as much work as they seem like they might be, and serve as a great dish to bring to any pot luck or family function where you’re struggling for a creative crowd-pleaser that’s keto friendly, travels well, and doesn’t take a million dollars or hours of hard work to create.
The basic premise of this dish is two ingredients. Bacon. Asparagus. Simple right? Yep, that’s the point! But the ingredients do stack out to a few more than that when you factor in some acidity with lemon juice, and whatever keto seasoning you prefer (we just use a basic salt and pepper seasoning, but the more the merrier!). You’ll want to look for a consistent, and not-too-thick bacon here. Honestly, you’re probably best off looking for something more generic and mass-produced here, as much as I hate to say it. Long, evenly-sliced, even-fat-distribution bacon strips. Normally I would advocate for a thicker, gnarlier, more home-style bacon from a local farm or shop, but in this case we’re looking for consistency and “wrappability” as being the key factor.
Let’s get started!
Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Asparagus
1 pound of asparagus spears
1 pound of streaky “American-style” bacon
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Start by washing your asparagus spears and taking the hard, tough bottoms off. Standard procedure for all asparagus-based meals. Take your bacon out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before you get started as well, if you can. As it gets closer to room temperature, the grease will start to relax and the bacon will become stickier and more bendable. This will help it cling to the asparagus and make life easier when it comes time… which it will in mere moments!
Set your smoker or oven to a low heat (200-220 degrees is nice) and prepare a surface for wrapping your asparagus, and a plate/rack to place your wrapped spears on when they’re done.
Starting at the base and working your way gradually to the tip (stop sniggering!), wrap one piece of bacon around one asparagus spear. You can tell these two foods were a match made in heaven from the very start, because most bacon strips and asparagus spears seem pretty perfectly sized to fit one another just about perfectly. The tip of your asparagus spear should be sticking out, but bacon should cover the rest without any gaps, so there will be a slight overlap with each wrap of your bacon.
I’ve been asked the secret for making sure the bacon doesn’t fall off, and the answer is that it’s honestly never been a problem! If you’re using bacon that’s warmed up to room temperature a little, it should be sticky and cling to the spear as you wrap and not come loose, and as you cook the spears, the bacon will lose grease and moisture, dehydrating it and causing it to “shrink wrap” around the spear even more snugly. All the hard work is done by the cooking process. No need for toothpicks, twine, or any of those other commonly used “wrapped food” contraptions.
Once all your spears are wrapped in bacon, lay them out and season them with your salt and pepper (not too much salt; remember that bacon is naturally very salty) and any other seasonings you like. Chilli, garlic powder (watch the carbs!), onion powder, paprika, and some others would all make good fits here.
Transfer to your smoker and give the spears around 45 minutes to 1 hour to smoke before checking on their progress. If they’re not done by then, keep them going, but it shouldn’t take much longer than this. If you don’t have the luxury of a smoker, you can do these in the oven, but I would recommend laying them directly onto the oven racks and placing a grease-catching sheet or some other form of drip catcher underneath, rather than cooking them in a dish or on a tray. The reason being, is that bacon is super greasy, and if you don’t cook them on racks, they’ll be swimming in their own grease by the end of the cook. The result will be soggy, floppy, greasy spears rather than crisped up, crunchy, and delightful ones. Your guests will thank me for this tip!
Once the bacon and asparagus are visibly cooked, remove them from the smoker or oven and lay out on a plate. At this stage you may want to try one (or two!) and get a sense of how well you’ve nailed the seasoning, and add anything extra you think the spears could use. It’s at this point I like to spritz some lemon juice onto my completed asparagus spears, to provide a hit of acidity that cuts nicely through the smoky bacon and complements the flavours of the asparagus beautifully.
Whether you’re bringing them to a family pot luck, a friend’s barbecue, or even just having them for dinner with your family, I will promise you one thing: there will always be a solid handful of these spears that get gobbled up before ever making it to the dinner table.