Tonight I made the best thing I’ve ever eaten. It’s also the least healthy thing I’ve ever eaten. Maybe a fried Mars bar is worse. Maybe. But when you eat a pretty healthy diet on a regular basis, it’s OK to go nuts on occasion.
I was feeling a little crazed at the end of the day and had no idea what dinner would be tonight, but eyed some nice looking cut-to-order slab bacon at the grocery store and started obsessing about BLTs.
BLTs are, in my opinion, on of the best meals on earth. Come spring I start obsessing about feeding the addiction with perfectly ripe tomatoes and good smoked bacon.
But tonight things got weird and wonderful when I chose my tomatoes at the store. I was worried that they wouldn’t taste great since we’re still early in the season, so I started to overcompensate with the other parts of the sandwich, kicking up the flavor a notch.
First, I made an intense smoked paprika mayo. Spicy with a hint of garlic and lemon, it was the perfect base for the rest of the goods.
Next, I cooked my bacon until perfectly crispy on a grill pan so as not to lose that flavorful grease. No paper towel in the micro routine. And here’s the kicker, the step that probably cost me a year of my life. I grilled the bread in the leftover bacon grease. Slathered the mayo on top of the grilled bread, layered on the bacon, topped with arugula and the cherry tomatoes, and showered the whole thing with smoked Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper.
Paula Deen was put to shame tonight. The American Heart Association is going to stage a protest outside my apartment building and throw stethoscopes at me on my way to work.
But it was worth it.
“I could eat seven of these and keel over and die with a smile on my face.”
- For the mayo
- ¼ cup organic mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from half a lemon)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ small garlic clove, minced, preferably with a microplane
- ½ teaspoon salt
- For the sandwich
- 12 slices thick cut smoked bacon (about 1 lb)
- 4 large, thick slices of chewy country bread such as sourdough or ciabatta
- A few handfuls of baby arugula
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Half lemon
- Smoked Maldon salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Stir the mayo ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In another bowl, toss the halved tomatoes in a bowl with the olive oil and a squeeze of lemon from the remaining lemon half.
- Preheat a large grill pan to medium heat (or cook bacon as you normally would in a pan or in the oven, making sure to reserve the bacon grease).
- When pan is hot, cook the bacon until crispy, turning frequently, about 6 minutes. When bacon is done, remove to plate lined with paper towels.
- Place bread in grill pan (or collect the bacon grease from wherever you’ve cooked your bacon and place in a pan on medium heat) and fry the bread gently in the bacon grease for a minute or two on each side. The bread should turn a beautiful golden color.
- When bread is done, remove to a plate, smear each slice with some of the smoked paprika mayo.
- Top with bacon, layer on a handful of arugula, some of the cherry tomatoes, and season the whole thing to taste with the smoked salt and pepper.