I have a confession. Even when I was a meat eater, I was never really a fan of bacon. I liked the taste, but I guess the thought of consuming fried pig fat ruined the whole experience for me.
But despite my seemingly un-American opinion of bacon, whenever I’m in the same building as cooked bacon and can smell that smoky, salty aroma, I want some.
The smell takes me back to when I was a little girl, visiting my grandparents on their farm in Tennessee. Every morning my grandmother woke up and prepared an enormous breakfast: bacon, sausage, biscuits, scrambled eggs, Cheerios with a heaping tablespoon of sugar (!), orange juice, milk, and coffee. I loved waking up to the smell of her cooking!
That was a long time ago, and my bacon-eating days are over. But, as I’ve recently discovered, that doesn’t mean I can’t ever have that smoky bacon flavor again. So, being a diligent little dietitian, I looked for a healthier alternative to those artery-clogging strips of enticement.
My version of bacon consists of portobello mushrooms sliced thinly and marinated in a mixture of liquid smoke, tamari (or soy sauce), olive oil, smoked paprika, and black pepper, then baked until crispy. Your house will smell amazing, and you can eat this “bacon” without any guilt (or a defibrillator).
I came up with this recipe because I decided to make a loaded potato soup and wanted it to resemble the traditional loaded baked potato in flavor as well as appearance. I knew I could top it with chives and shredded vegan cheese, but bacon bits required more work.
I’m quite pleased with these portobello bacon bits! They were easy to make, are good for you, and they capture that smoky, chewy/crunchy taste and texture that bacon bits add to a dish. I really should make a lot at once and just keep them in a jar. I will warn you though, make more than you think you need because baking mushrooms results in quite a bit of shrinkage.
Portobello Bacon Bits
- 2 large portobello mushroom caps, sliced thinly
- 2 t. olive oil
- 1 T. liquid smoke
- 1/2 t. smoked paprika
- 2 t. tamari (or soy sauce)
- Dash of black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper. Whisk together liquid ingredients, paprika, and pepper. Place sliced mushrooms in a shallow dish and pour marinade over them, tossing to coat. Allow mushrooms to marinate for 20-45 minutes, tossing once or twice. Spread slices out on baking sheet(s) and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until edges start to curl and crisp (you may want to flip them halfway through). Allow to cool completely, then roughly chop the strips into “bacon” bits.
Store in an air-tight container in the fridge up to four days if still somewhat soft. If completely dried and crispy, they should be fine at room temperature.
These bacon bits added a lot to my loaded potato soup, and they would also be a nice addition to anything else that typically contains bacon (go nuts!).
Try this recipe and let me know what you think!