Bacon Week 2: Bacon-Flavored Sunflower Seeds

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The guys over at Bacon Salt have a simple premise that guides their company’s product development team: “Everything Should Taste Like Bacon.” To a large extent, I agree with that statement. Most foods DO taste better with actual bacon as an ingredient. I’ve had maple-flavored ice cream sprinkled with still-warm bacon bits. Most excellent. Burgers with bacon are incredible. Duh.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I agree with the Bacon Salt guys, at least as long as we’re talking about things tasting better with bacon, as long as actual bacon is used to generate that flavor. It’s when people start trying to create that signature bacon flavor WITHOUT using bacon that problems occur. This is the case with BIGS Bacon-Salt Flavored Sunflower Seeds, as you can see from my unwitting co-workers’ reactions, below.

Bacon Week 2: The BBBBBLT

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“Because it’s there.” That’s the answer George Mallory gave when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. That’s why I knew I had to try the BBBBLT when inspiration struck. Once it occurred to me, I knew I had to make it. And once I made it, I had to eat it. Because it was there.

Let me break it down for you.

bbblt-ingredients

Starting from top left, clockwise:

  1. Bacon Beer Bread. Based on this recipe for beer bread, but substituting Hickory Bacon Salt for the salt … salt. I used Hempler’s bacon, chopped into little bits, distributed throughout the dough, about three slices worth. This counts for two of the B’s: Bacon Bread.
  2. Bacon Skillet Jam. Sarah got me some from a famous Seattle food cart, and it’s a nice sweet tangy bacony spread. Makes all sandwiches better.
  3. Baconnaise. From the people that brought you Bacon Salt, it’s bacon-flavored (still vegetarian) mayonnaise. It’s got the tang of Miracle Whip, with the aftertaste of bacon salt.
  4. Lettuce. From the garden. That’s the “L.”
  5. Tomato. Ditto. That’s your “T.”
  6. And last but not least, actual bacon bacon. Again, went with Hempler’s bacon. They make a nice meaty bacon, uncured, and very similar to British-style bacon. It’s sweetish, subtle, and not too salty. And very easy to overcook, so keep an eye on it. And thus, for the cardiologists counting along at home, your fifth and final “B.”

I sliced myself two thick slices of bacon bread, and set phasers to “assemble.”

bbblt-bread

On the left side, I slathered the bread with Baconnaise. Cool color. On the right, Bacon Jam. Weird color. I didn’t test this theory, but I suspect if you attempted to push the pieces of bread together at this stage, it would be like trying to mate two polarly-opposed magnets together, or like mating polar bears and penguins.

bbblt-bread-spread

Almost done. My hands were shaking as I applied the lettuce to the mayo side, then topped it with tomatoes, as I’m sure Mallory’s were as he gripped that last rock on the way to the top. His were probably shaking from the cold, though. Mine were shaking from excitement. The right side got the actual bacon. Bon Appetit, if you’re reading this, I will license this photo.

bbblt-blt

Now. Time to meld these two halve together, forming something undoubtedly greater than the sum of its parts, like if South Dakota and North Dakota reunited. And booked the original Guns and Roses for the reunification celebration. Something like that.

bbblt-complete

It was like eating a bacon tornado. If you recall the scene in Twister, where some debris flies by, swept up in the tornado’s vortex? More debris, followed by a boat, followed by a cow?

That’s what this tasted like. The first hit was the sweetness of the beer bread, punctuated by odd bits of bacon. Once that had passed my palate, a brief crunch of lettuce was followed quickly by a sharp, but sweet Baconnaise tang. More bread, then WHAM! BAM! Bacon Jam! A rich, almost fruity foundation that merged slowly into acidic garden-fresh tomato, quickly followed by Actual Bacon™ texture. It was wild.

I climbed that mountain of a bacon sandwich. Because it was there.

Bacon Week 2: Mini BLTs

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I love brewing. And I love eating. But it’s a certain kind of food that goes well with both activities, usually something from the Dorito’s segment of the food pyramid. And while I love orange hands and flavors inspired by the famous Rancho Coolo, I often want something more substantial. Something entree-like, but which doesn’t require silverware. World, I give you … mini BLTs. You’re welcome.

Cook some bacon. In this case, I’m using a slab of thick-sliced, uncured Niman Ranch center cut, Applewood smoked bacon. It’s salty, but not too salty, and easy to cook up to the perfect BLT state: a few minutes past “wiggly,” but not quite rigid. This particular bacon has a deep, smoky flavor to it, which goes well with the other components of the trio without being overpowering.

niman-slab-cooking

I also tried a few sandwiches with the no-cook convenience of Archie McPhee’s strawberry-flavored gummi bacon, but it was a bit too chewy for my taste. The sweetness of the strawberry was quite nice, though; a bit like a PLT.

gummi-bacon

While you’re waiting for Mister Pig to render, it’s a good time to do your other prep. A mini BLT needs small bread. I thought about cutting up a larger sliced loaf, but feared the loss of crust on all four sides could lead to structural problems once the mayonnaise got to softening the bread. Instead, I reached for a baguette, choosing to slice it on the bias (French for “diagonal”) to make the slices a bit longer, since I intended to leave the bacon untrimmed.

baguette-sliced

Slicing tomatoes is part of any BLT assembly process, but slicing lettuce isn’t. The combination of larger than average lettuce leaves and smaller than usual sandwiches requires it in this case. I sliced it to be just under the width of the mini bread slices.

lettuce-sliced

After prep’s done, and the bacon complete, you’re ready to assemble. Put mayonnaise on both slices of bread; it’s the glue that will hold the sandwiches together and enable one-handed eating. Bacon is next, followed by lettuce and tomato. Lettuce provides a moisture barrier between the juicy tomato and crisp bacon, and texture diversity is very important in a properly-made sandwich.

platter-o-mini-BLTs

In just a few minutes, you’ve got a bevvy of BLTs ready for the brewers. A toothpick helps keep everything in place while the mayo sets up. But the main question is, “can this BLT be eaten single-handed?” See you in Sweden, bitches! I’m gettin’ a Nobel!

mini-BLT-in-wild

Bacon Week 2: Bacon Gumballs

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After bacon mints, we hoped we’d seen the end of novelty-inspired, bacon-flavored confections. Boy were we wrong. Seems like the gang at Archie McPhee’s been working overtime to fill out the rest of the bacon candy store. Unfortunately, it seems they’re spending more time coming up with candy ideas than they are on candy flavor refinement, as evidenced by these first time tasters’ reactions: