Chili Bacon Breadsticks

My family celebrates Christmas in the German tradition, opening presents on Christmas Eve after we sing “Stille Nacht” and toast each other with Sekt (the German version of Champagne). We open the gifts one box at a time, in chronological order from youngest to oldest, and each of us must guess what might be inside. While we wend our way through the colorfully wrapped pile, we help ourselves to a bountiful table of finger foods. For the last few years one of my contributions to the feast has been chili bacon breadsticks. I first made them for an extended family New Year’s Eve celebration in December 1999 when twelve of us rented a house on the beach on the island of Nantucket in order to witness the first light of the new millennium. It was bitterly cold, with seas so rough the car ferry had been cancelled and we had to scramble to catch the last passenger ferry to the island. We landed late at night with no transportation but managed to find a cab to take us out to the house on the far western end of the island.

The weather calmed down as the new year approached, our car made it over from the mainland and I was able to get to the market for provisions, including the ingredients below. This hearty hors d’oeuvre was a hit that New Year’s Eve, enjoyed as we watched fireworks over the Atlantic. Early the next morning, after the last of the breadsticks had been devoured, we bundled up and made the trek to the eastern end of the island to watch the sunrise. The photo here is one I took that morning.

Bacon Chili Breadsticks have been at the top of everyone’s list of favorites since then. As the friend who gave me the recipe warned, however, there is no sugar-free, low-fat version of this dish! However, now that there is a vegetarian “bacon,” I can also make a variant for the non-meateaters in the family.

Chili Bacon Breadsticks

1 pound of bacon (let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to soften)
18-24 breadsticks (depending on how many slices of bacon you have)
1 cup of brown sugar
3 Tablespoons chili powder (adjust for hotness)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  1. Mix brown sugar and chili powder together in a container large enough to roll the breadsticks in the mixture.
  2. Wrap each breadstick with a slice of bacon.
  3. Roll each wrapped breadstick in the sugar/chili mixture until well-coated and place on a rack in a 13×9 inch roasting pan. Leave about ½ inch between breadsticks.
  4. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Remove from oven, loosen from rack with spatula and let cool for about 15 minutes on the rack.