My craving for BLT’s started with the bread. Not Bimbo, but thickly sliced, toasted, homemade bread. The kind that deserves a good slathering of Brazilian banana-orange marmalade, which was slowly going bad in our fridge.
But back to the BLT. It would be a messy monster, with thick slices of heirloom tomato and thick slices of bacon. Nestled over the bacon would be a mound of sauteed red onions, still sort of al dente, and a layer of chile mayonnaise that oozed out the sides. But not a creamy mayonnaise, something more chile-forward (yes, I just said “chile forward”) — something with a little tobacco and fruit in it.
Last week I was in a bit of a funk because because mosquitoes kept torturing me while I slept. On Wednesday I finally found the ganas to make the bread. (Used Joy of Cooking’s Milk Bread recipe, without the egg wash because I forgot.) Besides the bread rising like a monster in the oven, it came out fine.
Last night — I had to act quickly because the bread was going stale — I fried the bacon in our cast-iron skillet and tossed the onions in the bacon fat, de-glazing everything with a bit of Indio beer. Whipped up a quick salsa in my blender and added a little mayo to even everything out.
The result was a two-hand-holder sandwich: big, gloppy, chin-staining, with juicy tomato bits dripping out the bottom. The spread had exactly the chile taste I wanted — hints of chocolate and tobacco and berries, with just a touch of heat.
I finished my sandwich before Crayton did, so I looked at him very sweetly and asked for a bite of his. Because he’s nice he said yes. I think I ate his last piece of bacon.
BLT’s with ancho-pasilla spread and sauteed red onions
Makes two big sandwiches with some left over
Note: The onions really make a difference here, adding a layer of sweetness and some texture. I’d definitely want to include them in any future BLT experiments. Also, I was tempted to make a chipotle mayo but I’m glad I didn’t — the smoky bacon stands out that much more.
For the BLTs:
Four slices thick white bread, toasted
A few leaves high-quality lettuce
1 1/2 small beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
150g or 5-6 thick slices smoked bacon
3 thick slices red onion
A few tablespoons dark beer
For the chile spread:
2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and de-veined
2 pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded and de-veined
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1 large tomatillo (50g or about 2 oz.), simmered in water until soft
1 1/2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
spritz of fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
Hydrate chiles in hot water for about 10 minutes, until skin has softened. Place in blender with garlic and water, and tomatillo, and blend into thick paste. Add more water if necessary. Let cool to room temperature and stir in mayonnaise, lime juice, salt and pepper. Chill spread until ready to use.
Meanwhile, to make BLTs, fry bacon in a heavy skillet, or however you usually fry bacon. (Some people use the oven.) Remove bacon and strain out most of the grease. With the flame on medium-high, add onions to pan and cook, stirring constantly so they soak up all the yummy charred bits. Add a little more grease if they start to burn. After a minute or two, once the onions have started to turn translucent, add a stream of beer (if you want) to deglaze the pan. You could also add water or chicken broth.
To serve, spread each slice of bread liberally with chile spread. Top with lettuce, tomato, bacon and onions. Cover with remaining slice of bread and cut in half to serve.