Sunday, March 7, 2010

BLT Bites

I've made BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) bites before. They can take a lot of time but have excellent flavor and are impressive. I think I've perfected both the ingredients and the technique. Here's what I did.

First, cherry tomatoes work best for this, the bigger the better. But remember the word "bite"--they must not be so big that you can't eat them in one bite, but not so small that you need a microscope and tweezers to assemble. The key to making these is in the preparation.

First, the tomatoes. Wash and clean your cherry tomatoes, picking out the best. Then take a very sharp knife and slice a bit of the top off. You should just see the cells of the tomato. Now you need to get the "stuff" out. I used a large cake decorating star tip. Push it in, twist and then turn at an angle to break out the center "stem" of the tomato, actually the cell wall. Turn over and the juice and seeds will drain out. Clean up a bit with a small tea spoon if you need to, then turn upside down on a few thicknesses of paper towels and let drain for a good hour or two in the refrigerator. You'll need about 48 of these if you want to serve in an 11x13 pan, serves 12 people as an appetizer.

Now prepare your other ingredients. You need a sauce. A half cup of mayonnaise and a half cup of sour cream play well together. Add a half teaspoon of salt, half teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Here's where you can let go and be creative if you want, try some other seasonings, but make sure they're ground. Season to taste, that's the key. Mix well and put in a squeeze bottle. Let sit for an hour or so for the flavors to melt.

Fry one pound of good quality bacon until very crisp, then drain thoroughly, cool, and rough chop. You'll want a few of the larger pieces reserved for the top of your BLT bites.

The last ingreident is the "L," the lettuce. Romaine works well but you can use any lettuce you want. Next time I may just try arugula, for the bitterness and bit of it. Finely chop your lettuce (about 3-4 romaine leaves). Then in a food processor, finely chop one small rib of celery and two scallions (white and very light green parts only), and add to the lettuce. Mix well and set aside.

Now you are ready to assemble. Think about presentation--line an 11x13 pan with a few romaine (or other lettuce) leaves. line up your hollowed out tomatoes on another tray and very lightly salt them with table salt--very lightly. From the squeeze bottle, put a little dollop of sauce in each one, then
put a few bits of bacon, then a small portion of the lettuce mixture. Use your little finger or the handle of a wooden spoon to tamp down the mixture if needed. It should almost come to the top of the bit, and it's great if a few pieces of the green lettuce mixture are sticking out. Now add another small dollop of your sauce, then one or two large bits of bacon for presentation. Line up in your 11x13 pan and refrigerate for at least an hour. That's all there is to it. Believe me, whoever you serve these to will be much impressed. Smacznego!

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