I’m writing this down, finally, because I’m tired of digging out the scrap of paper I figured it out on every two weeks. It started out as a burger sauce, but has since been used on fried fish or chicken, pulled pork, corned beef, pastrami, kebabs, and even a few french fries. The sauce has turned up here in a few posts, but with few details:
I’ve been eating this dressing in an apple salad with walnuts and dried figs for lunch recently, but it would be good with any fruit or vegetable salad or with chicken strips or wings. The blue cheese is the star, but I wouldn’t use a premium eating blue, like my favorite Stilton in it. I would eat the Stilton in a deconstructed salad of apples, figs (dried or fresh), and nuts. Just buy two cheeses, one for the dressing and one for munching. Today, I used a Danish Blue in the dressing, and picked up a little wedge of Stilton while I was at it for an indulgent snack.
My ranch recipe is as easy as possible. Equal amounts of buttermilk, sour cream, and mayonnaise, plus chives and dill and salt. I haven’t been adding garlic for my apple salad purposes, but I would add it if dressing pasta or vegetables.
I’ve made more complicated ranch dressings before, but it soon became obvious that it doesn’t need to be complicated to be good. It’s not a low fat dressing, but it has no added refined sugar or sharp vinegar, both of which characteristics are good for me. You could easily make a lower-fat version with common substitutions.
This is one of those posts that’s almost more about what we don’t like. We don’t like lettuce is number one. He doesn’t like cucumbers, and almost as much tomatoes and mushrooms. I don’t like sour, vinegary salad dressings, nor sugary sweet ones. So, you can see how salads can be a problem, but we are happy to eat a bowl of raw vegetables, minus the list above for him. Tonight is a frozen pizza night, frozen because I am less likely to eat much of it, since the frozen ones are not that great. By itself, the frozen pizza is not much of a meal, so some kind of salad helps it along. This salad is almost a meal in itself and easy for you to customize for your own purposes. I made a simple buttermilk dressing with no added sugar and a lot of garlic to dress it, with enough left over for dipping some chicken strips tomorrow.
I quick-sautéed the chick peas and zucchini in olive oil, but it could all be raw, except the bacon. It just depends on whether you want crunch. You might notice there are no juicy items in the title, and that’s where the options come in. For me, I found a couple of heirloom tomatoes, and for my husband, there are black plums—fruit makes a nice substitute for tomatoes in a salad. The last time I bought black plums, last summer, they were recalled after I had already fed them to everybody. No one got sick, but it made me reluctant to buy them again, until today. It’s too bad that food can be risky, but nothing grows in our garden in the winter under 20″ of snow, so you have to risk what’s in the produce department. The plums seem okay for this time of year, a little juicy, if not as ripe as in the summer.
Until about a year ago, it never occurred to me that you would or should cook bacon any way except in a big frying pan, turning the slices frequently before they curl too much and fighting the splatter that always managed to work around my apron and make one grease spot on all my black t-shirts. I can’t remember which item of black clothing was the last straw, but I turned to the oven and will not look back.
I tried a variety of methods, first buying a nice rack to use over a baking sheet pan, but that tended to make the bacon too crisp, and we like bacon chewy. I’ve tried parchment paper lining, but eventually found that non-stick aluminum foil works best. Don’t agonize over the bacon sitting in its own fat in the pan. That’s what it does in the frying pan, and if you’re worried about the fat, you shouldn’t be making bacon. Then there are oven questions: what temperature? preheat or don’t preheat? turn the bacon or don’t turn the bacon? The perfect tricks in my oven are 400°, not preheated, for 13-15 minutes without turning. Then if you put a second batch into the already hot oven, it takes only 10 minutes, and you should turn the bacon halfway through that time.
Line a baking sheet pan with non-stick aluminum foil.
Lay out bacon slices on foil so they don’t touch. Use 4-5 slices or more per sandwich.
Turn oven to 400° and put pan with bacon in the oven for 15 minutes. Check at 13 minutes to see if you have any hot spots that might be burning one end of the bacon. You can turn the pan if so.
Take the pan out and set on stove, where the bacon will continue to cook for a minute in the bubbling fat. Remove the bacon to paper towels or a rack to drain.
When cool enough to touch, pour off the bacon fat to a covered dish and save for other cooking where a bacon flavor would be nice.
Assemble the sandwich:
There are just too many preferences for the perfect bacon sandwich, and I’m not going to argue with any of them. If it were summer, I would choose a nice garden tomato and lettuce, but winter tomatoes are just too flavorless to make that an option right now. Grilled with cheese is good, but it can mask the bacon. Then there’s the bacon and egg sandwich, which I prefer with a fried egg. Some breads can mask the bacon, as well, and my first choice in the summer is a good bakery country white bread, soft, but not gummy like the mass-produced white breads. Today, I’m using a seedless rye that is mild but flavorful, and standing in for the summer tomato is an avocado, and some mayo with dill.
Mix 1/4 cup real mayonnaise with 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed. I would make this a little in advance so the dill has time to really flavor the mayo.
Slice the avocado and/or mash it into a chunky consistency.
Spread a thin layer of the mayo spread on each slice of bread.
Layer on as many strips of bacon as will make you happy on one slice of bread. I guess I should say to pile on the bacon. My strips were long, so I doubled them over.
Layer slices of ripe avocado or a couple tablespoons of mashed avocado on top of the bacon. I put almost the whole small avocado on mine.
Smash on the second slice of bread. Cut the sandwich, just to be fancy, and eat it.