“I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.”
I should preface this “recipe” by reminding readers that this is less a blog where I learn how to make fancy meals and more a place where I focus on cooking things properly. That being said, this week I made BLTS, which is ridiculous because the recipe is essentially in the name and it hardly constitutes cooking, but I needed to know that I could cook bacon well before I went any further down the meat cooking rabbit hole.
For the sake of having recipes to reference here, I looked to the Barefoot Contessa again to teach me to cook bacon (as well as the bacon package and my mother’s insight), found a “bacon” recipe that was really more trouble than it was worth, and used Joy the Baker’s “perfect BLT” recipe to supplement my innate knowledge.
For the purposes of this blog, I decided to make my own “bacon” from plain tempeh instead of purchasing any of the fakin’ bacon products that exist. In fact, the brand of tempeh I chose to use also sold an already marinated bacon-style tempeh; for only a few cents more, it’s definitely worth it to buy instead of make your own. The ingredients on the tempeh bacon package were pretty similar to those in the recipe I used, and, as the tempeh is already marinating in the package, using this product saves a lot of time.
Making the “bacon” was really just a matter of slicing tempeh into vaguely bacon-looking pieces and marinating it with vaguely bacon-tasting flavors. I poured cumin, chili powder, light brown sugar, the oldest apple cider vinegar in the world, and soy sauce in a pot and brought it to a boil. Then, I poured it over the tempeh and waited a couple hours.
While the tempeh was turning into bacon, I collected the rest of my ingredients and got ready for the bacon baking part of BLT-makng.
When I started this journey, I imagined myself testing meat with a thermometer and knowing exactly when something is done based on temperature. But so far, there have been no thermometers, and I’m finding that a lot of things require just knowing what cooked meat should look like. This ended up being the case with bacon, as the recommended cook times I came across left the bacon very underdone. I chose to make the bacon in the oven, and the recipe and package both called for an oven temperature of 400 degrees. The recipe suggested 15-20 minutes in the oven, while the package said it should only take 12 minutes. At 12 minutes, my bacon was nowhere near done, and at 20 minutes, it still could have been a little crispier so I left it in until 23 minutes had elapsed.
The “bacon” recipe I chose for flavor purposes actually said to cook the tempeh at 300 degrees, but I really wanted to cook everything at once for the sake of convenience so I googled “tempeh bacon oven 400 degrees” to see if anyone on the internet thought that was an acceptable baking method, and lo and behold, Vegan Yoga Life offered a recipe that used that temperature and, strangely enough, required almost the same amount of time in the oven.
By the end of the cooking process, the bacon/”bacon” almost looked the same, except that the bacon was covered in grease while the “bacon” was stuck to the foil.
This is the part of the recipe that can be fast-forwarded. It’s a BLT. There’s L and T on toasted white bread. Mayonnaise on both slices of bread. Salt and pepper if you feel like it. Add the bacon/”bacon.” Top the sandwich with the second piece of toast, and cut it diagonally (I firmly believe that it the correct way to slice a sandwich).
Once the sandwiches were complete, you really couldn’t tell which was which by appearance (mine is the second photo).
The BLTs got rave reviews all around. Not to brag, but my mom said they were “perfect.” My BLT was also really good. I ate some of the “bacon” by itself, and it was enjoyable but obviously not bacon. But once it was on a sandwich with all of the other flavors of a BLT, I think my mind kind of filled in the gaps of what bacon should taste like. Overall, this was a really easy, but important, cooking experience.