This isn’t a BLT sandwich.
In fact, it’s something we call bacon-wrapped bacon: seared and roasted pork belly, wrapped in slices of bacon and roasted again. You don’t want to have this too often, of course. But for a special occasion, this is quite the bacon delight.
(And no, we can’t share the recipe, which was inspired by our friend Lorna Yee. You’ll find it in our cookbook, to be published in the fall of 2010.)
However, this is a photograph of bacon. If you’re inspired by bacon, you should participate in Michael Ruhlman’s BLT from Scratch challenge.
What is the challenge? Make every single part of a BLT from scratch. Bake your own bread. Grow your own lettuce and tomatoes. Craft mayonnaise by hand. And of course, cure and smoke pork belly to make your own bacon.
As Ruhlman wrote on his blog: “No, this does not mean raising a piglet for the bacon or growing your own wheat to grind into flour. Yes, extra credit for either, but I want this to be a challenge that everyone can accept, whether you live in a Manhattan walk-up or rural North Carolina, Alaska or suburban splendor. From scratch means: You grow your tomato, you grow your lettuce, you cure your own bacon or pancetta, you bake your own bread (wild yeast is preferred and gets higher marks but is not required), you make your own mayo.”
Who wants to join?
Well, we do. And many others are as well. In fact, Time magazine wrote a piece about Ruhlman’s BLT challenge as part of a larger story about American’s sudden resurgent interest in pork.
(We’ve been interested in it for years, of course.)
I particularly like this quote from the Time piece, putting this interest into perspective: “…this passion for bacon is another manifestation of a growing movement to get in touch with our food — by planting it or raising it ourselves, and by eating local products secure in their sourcing — as well as a simple enthusiasm for the taste adventure. Just as Americans flocked to garden nurseries this spring to scoop up tomato plants and seeds, now they are sharing tips on where to find the best pork bellies (try local farmer’s markets, online sources like Niman Ranch or local Asian and Mexican markets).”
When you think about this challenge in those terms, how could you not want to participate?
The deadline is September 20th. Get cooking.
p.s. If you don’t know how to make your own bacon, we’ll be sharing our techniques soon. But we’re also huge fans of Michael Ruhlman’s book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.