In quiet rebellion against terrible food that’s been slopped together in a crockpot or flavorless dishes made under the pretense of quick & easy, I tend to spend an inordinate amount of culinary effort even on sandwiches. In the end, however, I always find the exertion has not been unwarranted. Especially when leaning deeply over the table and our plates, we attempt to scarf down the whole drippy mess before a single drop of the mingling madness can hit the plate.
This may seem disproportionate. But cooking for me isn’t just about eating. It’s a hunt. That moment when a single well-placed shot takes down the target full stop. Eyes roll back. This is the kind of sandwich that’ll leave you obsessing over it the next day. But don’t think you can bull through this one. The bacon should be
thicc thick and it needs time. It needs the tender caress of a slow pan. Seriously though, burnt bacon is just about the saddest thing in the universe.
Thick-cut bacon will take about 6-7 minutes per side. Don’t crowd the pan. 4-5 slices in a single layer using a 9″ cast iron pan. Fry it over moderately low heat slow enough to render out the fat. The edges of the bacon should bubble and foam just a bit. But the bacon fat should never ever get hot enough to start to smoke. Take your time. Turn it over once halfway through. You’ll be rewarded with bacon that is crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. As a bonus, you’ll have clean rendered bacon fat that can be poured off into a coffee mug for making some sort of irreverent heart palpitating confit. Or for frying eggs.
Thick-Cut Bacon and Basil BLT With Balsamic Basil Aioli
Flavor profile: rich, fatty, acidic, herby, creamy
- 1 10″ or 6 oz ciabatta or baguette
- .5 oz unsalted butter (1 tablespoon)
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 oz tomatoes, cherry, plumb, or steak (about 1 cup)
- .15 oz basil, young fresh leaves only (about 1/4 loosely packed cup)
- .15 oz balsamic vinegar (1/2 teaspoon)
- 12 slices thick-cut, applewood smoked bacon (about three-quarters of a pound, or 12 oz)
- 1.5 oz balsamic basil aioli (recipe follows)
- Cook bacon 4-5 slices at a time in a 9″ round cast-iron skillet over moderately low heat for 12-14 minutes per batch. (about 45 minutes in total.) Flip the bacon once halfway through (at 6 or 7 minutes). When each batch is cooked place the slices on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Meanwhile, prepare the bread by cutting it down the middle length-wise. Melt the butter on a second cast-iron pan over medium heat and sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper right onto the melting butter. Add the bread cut side down and toast until deeply browned and crispy. About 2-3 minutes. Set bread aside.
- Prepare the tomatoes by dicing them into 1/2 inch pieces. Add them to a medium-sized bowl. Cut the fresh basil leaves into long, thin ribbons and add them and the balsamic vinegar to the tomatoes. Toss to coat and set aside.
- When the bacon is cooked make the sandwich by spreading aioli on the bottom half of the bread. Top with bacon. Add the tomato salad and top with the top portion of bread. Cut the sandwich in half and serve immediately.
Balsamic Basil Aioli (for thick-cut bacon and basil BLT)
Makes 1 heaping cup
Flavor profile: garlicky, rich, slight licorice
- 8 0z mayonnaise (about 1 cup)
- 4 medium-sized cloves of garlic
- .70 oz balsamic vinegar (1 tablespoon)
- 1 oz basil, leaves only (2 cups loosely packed)
- .05 oz salt (1/4 teaspoon)
- Combine mayo, garlic, vinegar, basil, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until ingredients are smooth and basil is in small uniform pieces.
- Store in a lidded container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
If you like this recipe for thick-cut bacon and basil BLT, you might also like this recipe for Italian pesto and genoa salami muffuletta.