A few weeks ago I had brunch in Montgomery, Alabama. Except for my dining companion, I was the only person in the restaurant not sporting my Sunday best, not guzzling sweet tea, and not sure if the giant basket of corn muffins on the table was meant as an appetizer, dessert, or side. Yet after noshing on a few of the warm muffins I thought, "Muffins, of course! It's better than a bread basket for brunch!"
I recently tried this move out for myself, making a batch of these spicy, cheesy, bacon-studded muffins. The impetus for the recipe was my new found obsession with Black Pig Meat Company bacon. They dry cure the pork with brown sugar for up to 21 days, smoke it for 12 hours, then sell it in sinfully thick strips. I'm eating most of this bacon straight from the pan, but I couldn't resist cooking a few pieces, dicing them up, and tossing them into a fluffy muffin batter along with grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.
I have an old recipe from King Arthur Flour where cayenne pepper is added to cheddar muffins, so I followed suit, including paprika and freshly cracked black pepper. The result is a cheesy, porky, salty muffin that has a hint of spice. And in case you're wondering, they're the perfect match for a plate of eggs.
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About the author: Carrie Vasios is the Community Manager of Serious Eats and writes the Wake and Bake, Cookie Monster, and Serious Entertaining columns. She likes perusing her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar.