Tropical Storm Isaac has left us with rain, rain, and more rain. However I FUH.REAKING. LOVE. IT. Why? Because I can curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket and watch an obscene amount of corney Lifetime & Hallmark movies. True Story. Just ask hubs… he’s rolled his eyes no less than 437 times at the cheeseball-ness (it’s a word) coming from our television the past couple of days. He’s taken to renting alien & zombie movies and watching them on the laptop with headphones just to keep his man card.

Hi my name’s Tina and I’m addicted to corney chick flick movies. Moving on…

In between Lifetime movies, I was back to re-creating the dishes from our Beer Pairing the other night and it looks like we are on Course 2… Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing!

I have ALWAYS been a huge fan of warm spinach salads because of one thing… the incredible dressing.

Not just any dressing: Hot. Bacon. Dressing.

Really, need I say more?!

It tangy from the apple cider vinegar, it’s sweet from the sugar, and by golly it’s savory/salty from the bacon!!!

The perfecta trifecta. It’s a thing… trust me.

Normally spinach salads are considered a “girly” salad (ala spinach, strawberry, and brie salads with light vinaigrettes)…

Let me give you a little tip: Boys don’t like fruit on their salad (yes, I’m sure there are exceptions out there, but as a general rule, it’s truth)

But this Spinach Salad, my friends, is ANYTHING but girly. It’ll be a favorite for the meat-loving man in your life! Throw bacon on anything and hubs is a happy happy man.

Add bacon and everyone is happy.

I’m going to hand it over to the hubs now so he can fill you in on the beer selection… But, seriously, GO make this salad!

If you missed Course 1: Fried Green Tomatoes with Jalapeno Tabasco Ranch… you’ll definitely want to check it out!

And be sure to come back tomorrow for Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenderloins with Cilantro Slaw and Jalapeno Cheddar Waffles (you’ll. die.)!

Beer Selection: Cigar City Tocobaga Red Ale

We paired the Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon dressing with the Cigar City Tocobaga Red Ale. This red ale is brewed in small batches across the way in Tampa, FL and is my favorite beer to date. The Tocobaga Red Ale has a deep amber hue and serves up a respectable 7.2 ABV and 75 IBU. For most, that’s a fairly high IBU but this beer is perfectly balanced. It has a orange citrus bitterness that is married with notes of caramel sweetness and medium carbonation. The sweet caramel and bitter orange end with a satisfying dry finish. It works perfectly by contrasting with the sugary, rich bacon dressing. I wish I could tell you there are other close options but this beer is a stand alone. Whole Foods and Total Wine should carry this and if they don’t, have them order in a 6 pack (or multiple 6 packs for you).

Cheers!

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Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

A spinach salad that isn't just for girls!

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 pound bacon, cut into 1" squares
5 tablespoons reserved bacon grease
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch mixed into 2 teaspoons water
16 ounces fresh Spinach
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
6 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced

Directions:

In a medium skillet, saute the red onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until softened and beginning to brown (8-12 minutes). Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.

In a saucepan,cook the squares of bacon over medium-high heat until golden brown and crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate and set aside until ready to use.

Drain off all but 5 tablespoons of the bacon grease (the easiest way is to pour it all of the bacon grease into a pyrex glass then measure the 5 tablespoons back into the saucepan). Add the sugar, vinegar, and water and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch into the boiling mixture until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat and crumble 1-2 TBS of cooked bacon into dressing.

To Assemble Salads: Place a handful or two of spinach on each plate and top with thinly sliced mushrooms, sauteed red onions, bacon, and 2-3 halves of egg. Drizzle with hot dressing and serve immediately.