The Ultimate BLT

The Ultimate BLT

A bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is one of those dishes that instantly triggers nostalgia for me. A good BLT is one of my mom’s favorite foods, which means so often growing up she would throw together a BLT for our supper.

Her recipe did not require special ingredients or fancy techniques, just a bit more care. She would quickly pan fry some bacon, which she usually had on hand in the fridge, slice some tomatoes from the garden, and slather toasted white bread with mayo. After watching her prepare countless sandwiches I realized what made her homemade version my favorite version. Aside from the addition of love, my mom seasoned every layer of her sandwich with salt and pepper.

First the mayo is lacquered on the bread then hit with a sprinkling of seasoning, the next layer is added and seasoned, and so on. As you can imagine, building a sandwich with tomato that has a sprinkling of salt and pepper far exceeds a sandwich with plain tomato.

And although I feel that you can never go wrong with classic BLT, I wanted to push the limits on what a BLT can be. With that in mind, I did not want to change the backbones of the sandwich by adding or using a bunch of random things. In the south people love to throw a fried green tomato onto a BLT in an attempt to heighten the recipe–I was not about to do that.

My approach is to amplify the already existing ingredients of a BLT. Add some garlic to the mayo, use better tomatoes, etcetera.

I use this Balsamic Onion Jam recipe to make the jam I use on the sandwich.

A few notes:

  1. Garlic confit can make you very sick if you do not cook it and store it properly. I recommend using it immediately and if you want to save it, freeze it.
  2. I purchased a loaf of homemade bread from a local baker. I recommend opting for a better bread than normal sliced bread from the grocery store.
  3. The true secret to making any BLT so much better is to salt and pepper every layer, even your smear of mayo.
  4. Finally, bake your bacon. This is a trick I learned during my short time as a line cook. Most restaurants place bacon in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake it instead of pan frying it. It keeps the kitchen cleaner (bacon grease does not spatter everywhere) and you are able to tend to other things in the kitchen while the bacon bakes.

An Ultimate BLT

All of the prepared ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Pound of Thick Sliced Bacon
  • 8 Slices of Country White Bread
  • Balsamic Onion Jam, link to recipe can be found above
  • 1 Head of Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup of Mayonise
  • 1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions

  1. First, bake your bacon. Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange your bacon in a single layer on a sheet pan, or two if needed. Bake for approximatley 45 minutes, or until bacon is the texture that you like.
  2. While the bacon cooks, make the garlic confit. Peel the garlic cloves. In a small saucepan, combine your olive oil and peeled garlic.
  3. Heat oil over medium low heat. Cook garlic until soft, approximate 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Once your bacon is cooked, remove it from the oven and let the bacon drain on paper towels.
  5. With your cooked garlic, make your garlic aioli. Finely chop 3 cloves of garlic. Combine the chopped garlic with the mayonnaise and a pinch of salt and pepper. Store the remaining cooked garlic for another use.
  6. Rinse off lettuce and tomatoes, then set aside to dry.
  7. Slice the Romain lettuce into bread size pieces. Slice the tomatoes.
  8. Toast your white bread.
  9. Smear each piece of toast with maynaoise, then salt and pepper the mayonnaise.
  10. Next place on your romaine, then a layer of bacon, and a layer of tomatoes. Salt and pepper your tomatoes.
  11. Spoon over your balsamic onion jam. Finish the sandwhich by topping it with a piece of bread with mayonnaise.
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Korean Fried Chicken [KFC] Sammies

Korean Fried Chicken [KFC] Sammies

Asian cuisine may be the holy grail of all food. I am of the opinion that most Epicureans adore Asian fare because it is so balanced. Every dish is filled with salty, sweet, tangy, crunchy,  savory, and umami goodness.

Most people get their Asian fix through cheap takeout or delivery food, so many people are really missing out on the full pleasure of good Asian cuisine. Part of the problem is many towns do not have legitimate quality sit-down Asian restaurants, aside from the oh-so-common Japanese Steakhouse (which is delicious for its own reasons). As a lucky Savannahian, I am part of a sea port that has a variety of quality Asian restaurants to choose from.

An easy and great way to try higher quality Asian food is to make it at home. I assure you, replicating takeout food is not as difficult as it may seem. If you are a good Southerner that knows how to fry chicken, than you can conquer this dish. A few extra ingredients from the store (most of which you can find anywhere) and you are ready to cook.

For this recipe I used Hawaiian bread sandwich rolls, which adds just a touch of sweetness to this spicy sandwich. The pickles on top are the much needed addition to cut through the richness of the powerful chicken. Making things even easier, you can pair any side dish with this sandwich; sweet potato fries, chips, corn, slaw, etc. (It’s even okay to buy them pre-made if you want to cut a few corners.)

Korean Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken Thighs, deboned
  • 1 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 3/4 Cup of Water, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon of Fresh Ginger, grated
  • 3 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons of Gochujang
  • 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons of Cornstarch
  • Vegetable Oil for Frying, about 2 Quarts

Directions:

  1. The night before or morning before you plan on cooking, combine one cup of water, rice wine vinegar, and salt in a sealable Tupperware container. Place chicken in the brine, and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  2. When ready to cook, remove chicken from Tupperware and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  3. Combine your sesame oil, garlic, and ginger in a small sauce pan, heat over medium until the ginger and garlic are fragrant. 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of water, sugar, gochujang, and soy sauce until smooth. Set Aside.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. While your oil is heating, combine flour, con starch, and remaining 1 1/2 cups of water in a large bowl.
  7. Set wire rack on a baking sheet, and set aside.
  8. Dip your thighs into your flour mixture, allowing excess batter to drip into bowl before adding to your hot oil. Once all the chicken is in the oil, increase your heat to high to cook.
  9. Once coating is starting to lightly golden on each side, about 10 minutes, remove from heat and transfer to your prepared rack.
  10.  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. While the chicken is resting, turn the heat down on your oil to medium.
  11.  After 5 minutes, turn the oil back up to high and continue to cook the chicken until golden brown on each side. About another 10 minutes.
  12.  Once crisp remove from oil and return to wired rack to let stand for 2 minutes before tossing chicken in your sauce.

Pickled Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • 2 Shallots, Sliced Thin
  • 1 Cup of Julienned Carrots
  • 1/2 Cup of Sliced Cauliflower
  • 1 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Cup of Water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sugar

Directions:

  1. In a heat proof bowl, combine carrots, shallots, garlic, and cauliflower. Set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan, combine water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Heat to a low boil.
  3. Pour heated vinegar mixture over vegetables. Set aside until ready to use.

Asian Aioli

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, minced
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil
  • Directions
  • In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until fully combined. Set in fridge until ready to use.

KFC Sandwich

Directions:

  1. Using bread of choice, place your chicken onto each bun.
  2. Coat the top bun with a healthy helping of Sesame Mayonnaise
  3. Top chicken with pickled vegetables.
  4. Eat!