Who doesn’t love a BLT? Everyone loves them! Bacon helps. Bacon helps everything, and in five thousand years, when human-bots are sifting through the wreckage of our ancient civilization, they will probably analyze the entirety of the Internet on some little microchip implanted in their brains, and they will say, “Why did these ancient beings worship thin, cured strips of animal flesh?” And they will come up with all sorts of reasons, but they won’t know, because they probably will have evolved beyond needing to eat, so they won’t know the deliciousness that is cured pork belly. They will just plug themselves into various electrical outlets. Or maybe they will have evolved to eating only bacon. Who knows!
Today, I hope to convince you that bacon is actually not the be-all end-all of pork cuts, despite what the meme-makers will have you believe. In fact, I don’t even really like pork that much, truth be told (and an unfortunate experience in Cuba just cemented that for me.) I find pork chops to be a little dry, ham is just bizarre to me, and this new offal cuisine has taken things to a whole other level. (“Back in my day, we bought pigs’ ears in Price Club and fed them to the dog, we didn’t pay $28.50 for them in a restaurant!”) BUT, I am not a total sus-phobe, (and yes, I Googled the scientific name for pig there). I very much love prosciutto, ribs can be great, and I do like bacon when it’s cooked to death.
Maybe you’re waiting for me to actually get to a point here. What I’m trying to say is give prosciutto a chance. Put it in your fry pan. Toast it up. See what happens. (I’m actually a little afraid to put this on the intra-webs, what if Anonymous finds me and outs me for screwing up the whole Internet by not loving bacon and cats?!) If you try this, you might just find a lighter, friendlier version of bacon. A gentle bacon. A bacon without weird bits of chewy fat. A bacon without the potential to death splatter into your eye and possibly set your kitchen on fire and require you to scrub down your entire stovetop after cooking it. You MIGHT find this to be a crisper, more delicious alternative to bacon. Try it. What is life without adventure, right?
So, on to the recipe. Use bacon if you must. I may never go back to bacon after my prosciutto experience. Here’s what we are going to do. We are going to make a jazzed-up BLT. Maybe I’ll call it a PLT. Let’s think of our classic BLT elements here.
- Bacon. Jazzed version: Prosciutto.
- Bread. Jazzed version: Panko bread crumbs.
- Mayo. Jazzed version: Garlic aioli.
- Tomato. Jazzed version: Tomato (BUT coated with that Panko and fried in a pan!)
- Lettuce: Jazzed version: Arugula. (What the hell did people do before arugula?)
Are you ready for this? This is as easy as a BLT but people will be all like, “Oh, that Bailey is so pretentious. She’s into that whole re-fab classics cuisine thing. She’s one of those people that uses “rustic” when she describes her food. I KNOW, right? Who says RUSTIC? I bet she pretends to like that offal cuisine too.” Seriously. People will say that.
Start with your aioli, because the longer it sits, the better. And by the way, this is cheat-aioli. You could make real aioli if you want to, it’s super easy. But, I have that paranoia about food safety and it becomes very difficult emotionally for me to eat raw egg things. So cheat-aioli is incredibly easy, and it starts with mayo. Put a large scoop of that in a bowl. Grate in some fresh garlic. Squeeze half a lemon in. Whisk while you add olive oil until it’s a nice consistency. Thinner than mayo, but not completely soupy.
Put that in the fridge (food safety, y’all!). Now, put a few strips of prosciutto in a pan and let it crisp. This will happen MUCH quicker than bacon, and it’s a lot less responsibility. Set aside. In the same pan, because everyone likes using only one pan, add a little olive oil and get that ready for your tomatoes.
Slice your tomato thickly, and if you’re dealing with a not quite ripe tomato, that’s even better. You want a nice, firm tomato that will stand up to being heated. Tomatoes are pretty moist, so I found the panko stuck to them just fine, but you could moisten them with an egg wash or something if you wanted to. I also added salt and pepper to the panko. In your hot pan (sorry, I should have told you to heat that pan up) and your slices of tomato. Sauté until golden brown, then flip.
Now plate it. Choose something rustic. Bed of arugula, slice of tomato. Add some aioli, then top with another slice of tomato (just like a sandwich!). But! We’ll be tricky and artistically lay your prosciutto slices across the top. Drizzle with more aioli. There you have it. The jazziest BLT you’ve ever eaten.