What's Cooking? B.L.T's . . . In the Oven?
I don't know about the rest of the planet, but growing up in my house, frying bacon for a family meal was the absolute LAST job you wanted to get stuck with.
People standing over your shoulder, some wanting it curly, some wanting it straight . . . all the while grease is splattering, and you have to stand there watching and tending the stuff for what feels like forever. Then, you get it cooked and drained and someone inevitably walks by and snags 2-3 of the 10 - 12 pieces you painstakingly prepared for an entire group of people. Aaarghh!!!
Last summer, during a breakfast gathering with friends, the hostess showed me a bacon preparation tip that blew my mind. I wish someone had shown me this years ago. It would have saved me a ton of stress. Here's what she did:
While preheating the oven (350-375 degrees F) for a coffee cake, she pulled out a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, cut the pound of bacon in half, and arranged the pieces flat in the bottom of the pan. When the oven was heated and the coffee cake went in . . . so did the bacon for about 10-15 minutes (different ovens run hotter or cooler, so play around with yours the first time until you get a handle on this).
This was one of the slickest darn things I've ever seen. Because enough fat drips off the pieces to cover them completely, both sides get cooked without the flipping process. Can I just say, halleluiah? Here's the other thing . . . the pieces cook flat which is great for lunch and dinner BLT sandwiches and chicken and turkey club sandwiches as well. The only step that's really left for this is the draining. You can do this on paper towels (don't worry, I won't report you as an eco-sinner), re-used brown paper bags, or on a baking rack placed on top of a cookie sheet.
Make ahead tips: To keep a supply of these on hand for quick dinner sandwiches, I use a tall canning jar with a screw on lid. After filling it with the straight, pre-cooked bacon pieces, I store it in the door side of my over-the-fridge freezer for quick and easy access. Also, so that I get a fresh-cooked flavor every time I use the bacon (which is also great crumbled on top of baked potato soup or as a tater topper with a sauce), I originally oven-bake it just shy of the crisp stage so that it can stand a few seconds in the microwave just prior to sandwich assembly. Basically, this is just like the pre-cooked bacon you can buy at the store (which I admit to occasionally indulging in). A good time to do this is when bacon goes on super-sale or when your regular market has a bunch of it reduced for quick sale.
My favorite way to do a BLT: A darker bread (toasted), crisp bacon, extra leafy greens, a meaty slice of roma tomato and the ultimate zinger flavor ingredient . . . horseradish sauce instead of regular mayo.
My favorite way to do a chicken or turkey club: Dark bread again (preferrably a long roll if I'm feeling self indulgent), slices of the poultry, leafy greens, crisp bacon, and some of that mashed avacado we were discussing on the brown bag lunch post. (Here are some other sandwich ideas, if you're feeling the need to experiment.)
Other ways to enjoy the bacon: Chopped in a salad or on top of a breakfast pizza.
I hope this helps with meal ideas for today. Since I'm the road now, there really is nothing actually cooking at la casa. So, as promised, I'm filling in with a suggestion and prep tip to keep the ideas flowing. This really has been a great solution for us and makes sandwich night not feel so hum drum, particularly with a nice six pack of specialty beer.
Have a great day!
Photo by AMagill