Alex Guarnaschelli's Spice Rubbed Bacon

I pre-ordered my copy of Alex Guarnaschelli's Old-School Comfort Food weeks ago.  Yes, I pre-ordered it!  It finally arrived Monday.

I read through it cover-to-cover in one night.  It's not uncommon for me to read a cookbook cover-to-cover, one night however is unusual.  The introduction was fun, funny, informative and a really good story.  Reading Alex's memories of being in the kitchen with her mother reminded me so much of being in the kitchen with my Grandma Cicero great memories flooded back.  Her progression from kitchen to kitchen was interesting, not arrogant.  Let's just say I really enjoyed it.

Then I got into the recipes.  I started flagging ones I wanted to try right away.  I ran out of flags!  I had to move to post-it notes!

I could almost taste every recipe in the book.  I love that 99% of the ingredients can be found in my local grocery store. Yes, I live in an area where we have great specialty stores where you can get just about anything.  I'm talking about my neighborhood grocery store!  To be honest, for many of the recipes I already had everything in the house!  And not only are the ingredients approachable, so are the recipes.

What to try first was the big dilemma.  This week is a busy one both at work and in the evenings so my plan was to start this weekend with Spice-Rubbed Bacon, Cinnamon Sourdough Pancakes, and Omelets with Fried Sage and Gruyere.  Sunday was going to be quite a brunch!  For dinner, Blackened Salmon with Beer Braised Carrots, Leeks Vinaigrette and maybe some Mashed Potatoes "Chantilly."  Those things are still on the list!

But... Dave is out with the guys tonight.  I could make my usual egg, grilled cheese or maybe pizza but why when I can make a BLT with some Spice Rubbed Bacon?  I have homemade hamburger buns, a beautiful tomato, lettuce and some spicy Wholly Guacamole (which goes on all of my BLTs) so I decided to dive into the book.

I started with good Nueske bacon, of course.

The bacon is coated with a mixture of curry powder, red pepper flakes, coriander seeds, black pepper and brown sugar.  The cooking method is baking between cookie sheets lined with parchment.

If you know me, you know I love my "bacon mats" so I get a bit of bacon in every bite so I had to make a mat.  I also just left one lone coated piece and one plain old piece of bacon.  Why?  Well, I've baked bacon before, in fact it's my preferred way to make it.  But I use a broiler pan so I know it will get nice and crispy.  I have to admit I was very skeptical that I would get some nice crispy browned bacon baking it sandwiched between not only two pans but two pieces of parchment.

After the first 20 minutes the bacon was no where near done.  It smelled amazing, but still limp and not browned.  I put it back in and checked after another 10 minutes.  It took another 5 before I decided I'd better get it out of the oven.  I'll be honest, it didn't look done.  Ask anyone, I like crispy bacon.  I will pick soggy bacon off of any sandwich and will leave it on a breakfast plate.  I don't like the texture or the chewiness of undercooked bacon.  But I didn't want burned bacon either and the recipe stated that the bacon will crisp up a little after it sits on paper towels for a bit.  Still skeptical.

I moved my bacon to paper towels while I assembled the rest of my sandwich.

First to go on my toasted bun was my Wholly Guac of course!  
Next lettuce and a slice of that beautiful tomato.  
It was time for my bacon mat.  It seemed a bit "limp", and obviously was too big for my sandwich!  Lucky for me, I don't believe there can ever be too much bacon!

So how did it taste?  Maybe the best BLT I've had.  The bacon literally melted in my mouth.  It wasn't so crisp it just crumbled.  It wasn't soggy.  It had perfect bite and then just melted away leaving a sweet, hot, smoky flavor, oh my.  Mix that with the cool, crisp lettuce, juicy tomato and guacamole and I had a sandwich!

I may even make this bacon again this weekend so Dave can try it.  I think he'll like it!

It is a messy method, I will say that!  But a little hot water and a few minutes later, things cleaned right up!

I can't wait to try the next recipe!

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