They say scent is the strongest link to memory, and whenever I fry bacon I’m instantly transported to a lazy Sunday morning at our family kitchen table.
In my list of all time favorite comfort foods, the BLT is undoubtedly in the top 5.
The ingredients in the name are so obvious, so simple, that preparation can become mindless. Add some proper love with my BLT tips to transform the simple into spectacular.
HOT TIPS FOR PERFECTING BACON
Frying bacon can be a dangerous game, and it’s taken me almost 30 years to get it right.
Some people like to bake their bacon to avoid the crossfire. I prefer not to shy away from the fight.
The truth is that panfrying is an easy method for cooking bacon that you can be prepared for. As proof, I present here the tried-and-trusted methods I’ve learned to ensuring you get crispy, evenly-cooked bacon without the stick or grease popping.
A note on “bacon”: Australians, like the Canadians, predominantly prefer the leaner cuts of bacon that come from the loin. Still, you can find the other cuts, what they so lovingly deemed “streaky bacon.” I always use this for my BLTs.
In some stores, there’s a little American flag on the packaging calling us home, saying “yes, this is the one you want.”
1. Give the Bacon a Cold Rinse
A quick rinse is all you need. This helps to render the fat so you get tender bacon.
Others might say you should submerge the bacon while it cooks. Personally, I find that a quick rinse and a tablespoon of water on standby works just fine. Add a splash of water to the pan if you find the bacon to be extra explosive.
WARNING: If, for some unknown reason, your pan actually bursts into flame, do not attempt to put it out with water! Grease fires should be smothered with a metal cookie sheet, and sometimes respond to salt or baking soda.
2. Cold Pan!
It’s also important for rendering the fat that you don’t heat the pan first. Lay the bacon in a single layer in the pan, then put it on the stove and fire it up. The slow rise in heat avoids shocking the bacon (which leads to curling edges).
3. One flip is all it takes
Once it’s in the pan, let it do its thing.
This is actually one very important kitchen lesson for almost anything you’re searing. Flipping should really just be finishing it off. Let it fully cook on one side (and then some) before you flip it.
This is an especially handy tool for pan-roasted salmon, chicken, or even just caramelized onions.
4. MAKE YOURSELF A FAT JAR
Growing up, there was always a tall jar of excess bacon fat in the fridge. It’s a great flavor boost for plenty of recipes, even if it’s “non-essential.”
Mom leaves it out nowadays since my sister Nicole went vegan… but when Nicole’s not around we know the rice-and-beans are gonna have that little extra *oomph*.
BLT TIPS AND INSPO
To get those nice pretty restaurant cuts of tomato, don’t cut the tomato down it’s spine. Instead, off with its head! Cut where the stem shoots, as if the stem were its neck, and you’ll preserve more of the fruit’s integrity which will do much better at staying put in your sandwich
BONUS: I also like to add a little sprinkle of sea salt to draw out that divine tomato flavor.
Dressed up BLT
During my early travel days, I discovered a life-changing interpretation of the classic BLT. Somewhere in the heart of Sevilla, “the BLTHQ” was hiding. The addition of Huevo (egg) and Queso (cheese) helped to transform this lazy-day sandwich into a filling meal. Extra points if it’s made con avocado.
Back then, I was still ordering this sandwich “sin mayonnaise.” I’ve grown since then, and learned to appreciate a light spread of mayo on my BLT–but with a twist. After I spread the mayo, I top it off with fresh cracked pepper and a sprinkle of cayenne for balancing punch.
Have it Your Way
For me, the BLT is the OG brunch. It’s the easy-enough dish you make when you laze about all morning (or got up late) and find yourself in need of a meal.
Not only is the simplicity of it somewhat refined, but it can also transform to take on any form you like. I often make it with arugula and put it on an English muffin. You can add spinach or sprouts to yours. Try it on a brioche bun or pita pocket. In the end, there’s no wrong way to do it, and this is the ultimate meal you can make with whatever you have handy.
Even vegans can find ways to perfect a BLT with the right fixings (and the right bacon-alternative, for which I regretfully have no advice). If we’re being honest with ourselves, there’s not much that can match the taste of true bacon, especially when it’s cooked to perfection. The methods I’ve learned haven’t failed me yet, but I’ll let you try them out and be the judge yourself.