August 12, 2011
During our trip to Cedar Rapids last weekend, we stopped by the downtown farmer's market scheduled the first and third weekend of each month during farmer's market season. We didn't buy much, but there were a few things I just couldn't pass up. Incredibly good tomatoes, for example.
Lots and lots of vendors offered tomatoes, of course, since they're pretty much a summer staple. The vendor we bought from had samples, though, and the samples made the sale. She had sliced up some orange tomatoes, and I was hooked from the first bite. Those golden tomatoes were the sweetest - and just plain best - tomatoes we've had so far this summer.
When we got home with the tomatoes, it seemed only natural that we use them to make another summer staple: BLTs. Other than perhaps grilled burgers or hot dogs, is there any more quintessential summer food than a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich? I can't think of one.
We used our favorite bacon, Vande Rose Artisan Dry-Cured Applewood Bacon, to make our sandwiches, but instead of frying it, I used a trick I read about in a recent issue of Bon Appetit: cooking the bacon in the oven. The technique is simple: Heat an oven to 375 degrees, set a wire rack on a foil-lined baking sheet and arrange the bacon on the rack. After about 15 minutes (turning the baking sheet once during that time), you've got crisp, flat, even-sized pieces of bacon. Since they aren't all curled up as often happens when frying bacon, the baked bacon is great for sandwiches. Cooking it on a rack also allows a lot of the fat to drip away.
Juli here. I LOVE baking the bacon! I will never fry bacon again! If you're wondering where we got the bacon rack, it was scavenged from a Farberware chicken rotisserie that I received as a gift about 30 years ago. The rotisserie is ancient history and is long gone, but the rotisserie rack lives on! It is the perfect size for the thick-sliced bacon we like. I was always puzzled why someone thought I really needed a chicken rotisserie, but apparently at least part of it was destined for greater things. Spooky.
Oh, and another little tip- you might want to have a rack dedicated to bacon-baking, or just baked meats in general. I would be sad if you came crying to me at some future point about your bacon-flavored cookies.
While the bacon cooked, we sliced up some tomatoes, washed and dried some lettuce and toasted some bread. Crispy bacon, delicious summer tomatoes, fresh lettuce and toast... add a bit of ranch dressing and you've achieved simple perfection.
BLTs... part of what summer is all about.