Sunday, August 1, 2010

What's the "B" for again?

Something very uncommon happened today in my flat. The whole place wafted with the scent of bacon. Honestly, I don't remember the last time we had bacon in the fridge. It's been years, I'm sure. I've used pancetta a couple of times, in lentil soup or a pasta sauce, but I never cook bacon for some reason. Not that I don't like it, we just never have it around.

But the stars have been aligning for me to make something I have never made before. It started in Seattle awhile back, at a cute and wacky restaurant in Capitol Hill called Bleu Bistro. My friend Dana allowed me to share her veggie BLT - and I became instantly hooked. I honestly have no idea what vegetarian bacon actually is, but man that sandwich was goooooood. I failed miserably at getting this sandwich out of my mind. So when I took my friends Alan & Mel to Angelina's Deli & Cafe to pick up a picnic spread, imagine my delight when I saw on Yelp that their BLT stands as one of their most popular sandwiches. I chose it as one of the three sandwiches, two salads, and three cupcakes we shared at our Baker Beach picnic that day. And it was scrumptious. Again, I could not stop thinking about BLTs. Very peculiar for me.

Then, just a few days later, I made Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup which called for white sandwich bread, another item that we practically never have in the house. Even after the accompanying grilled cheeses, I still had a substantial portion of the loaf leftover. A fairly loyal double fiber/sandwich thin/low carb wrap gal, thoughts of what to do with this extra bread kept gnawing at me.

And then the final star slid into place at Andronico's market last night. The husband man pointed into the butcher case exclaiming, "Wow! Look at that bacon! That looks amazing!" And my plan solidified. BLTs we would have. It all seemed kismet when he then chose live butterleaf when I asked him to pick out a lettuce (I adore butterleaf and so know the rest of the head will get used) and then when I found the usually quite pricey organic heirloom tomatoes on sale for less than the regular hothouse variety. Plus, I had a use for the rendered bacon fat in mind for another recipe, but I'll save that tale for another day...

And so, today, I made my first BLT. Of course, I had to give it my own little twist in some way, so I trolled America's Test Kitchen website and found a priceless little tip. Per their recommendation, I sliced the tomato thin and lay the slices out on paper towel before sprinkling them with a little salt to draw out the moisture.

Ten minutes later, during which time I busied myself with frying the bacon, I patted them dry with paper towel. The flavor of the tomatoes concentrated and they held their juices when you bit into them, but didn't make the sandwich soggy or slippery. Perfect! I called the Mr. to lunch and we chowed down my first BLTs.

 With my usual new recipe post-mortem, we thought they would have been great as BLATs (added "A" for avocado), which I'd thought about adding already, but decided to keep my first attempt pure and traditional. We also thought a turkey bacon sandwich (also with avocado) would've been great like this. Though it was fun and turned out delicious, our post-mortem revealed what I'd really known all along: we're just not really BLT people. I'll probably get a craving again sometime, thanks to Bleu and Angelina's, but there's a reason I've never made one before. But, all in all, it was a delicious success and I came out of it somewhat less intimidated by the bacon frying process, which went quite well today, though I do remember screwing it up colossally in the past.

So that whole grain white sandwich bread leftover from the tomato soup ended up coming in quite handy, and I got my usual high from reusing ingredients in multiple ways. Earlier in the weekend, I also got pretty creative with how to use the rest of the soup leftovers, too... But I'll tell you about that next time.

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