When the nearly 40-year-old Maine Maple Sunday weekend had to be cancelled last March because of the coronavirus pandemic, the organizers pivoted (excuse that now-overworked verb), to a fall event. A recipe contest was among the activities scheduled for the rejiggered mask-wearing, socially distant Maine Maple Producers celebration earlier this month.

The Candelora family hears feedback from the judges. Jason Candelora’s Maple Bourbon Candied Bacon took first prize in the dessert category. Photo courtesy of the Maine Maple Producers Weekend

A Maple Julep, made by Ned Wight of Portland, not incidentally the founder of and distiller at New England Distilling, took first place in the beverage category. Kathrine Vaillancourt of Georgetown won the entrée category and the overall recipe contest with her Maine Maple Haddock. And in the dessert category, Jason Candelora, of Hollis, swept to the top with an unconventional sweet, Maple Bourbon Candied Bacon.

Here are the winning recipes.


Winning recipe from Ned Wight.

Yields 1 drink


2 oz Tidewalker Straight Bourbon Whiskey
¼ oz Dunn Family Maple’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup
Fresh Mint

Mix the bourbon, syrup and 2 sprigs of mint together in a shaker with ice. Shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a tumbler filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.


Kathrine Vaillancourt of Georgetown is awarded the price for the entrée category, as well as best overall recipe for her Maine Maple Haddock. Photo courtesy of the Maine Maple Producers Association

Winning recipe from Kathrine Vaillancourt.

Serves 4

2 lbs fresh haddock fillets
½ stick (4 tablespoons) margarine
2 short sleeves of Ritz crackers (or 1 large sleeve)
½ cup Maine Maple Butter
½ cup milk
Salt and pepper


Butter 4 individual baking dishes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Divide the haddock into serving size and lay in buttered dishes.

Crush the crackers and distribute evenly over fish. Dot with the remaining margarine and drizzle with Maine Maple Butter. Add milk to each dish to the level of fillets and season with salt and pepper.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden.


Winning recipe from Jason Candelora.


1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ pound thick-cut bacon
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Add the maple syrup and bourbon to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the salt and nutmeg and let the mixture reduce to half the volume, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Arrange the bacon in a shallow baking dish and pour the syrup mixture over. Let the bacon stand in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Arrange the bacon on a lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture. Bake until bacon at desired doneness, basting it with the brown sugar mixture every few minutes. Enjoy!

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