You are totally jealous of my sandwich, admit it.
Ryan, my haircut-needing nephew, is picking up lots of culinary-speak during his tenure at The Left Bank. No longer do we “fry that shit up in a pan” or “nuke the hell out of” anything; we use proper classical Fronsh terminology. For example, when microwaving the Velveeta with the Ro-Tel, I would instruct him to “nukez l’enfer hors de ce produit que reseembler á fromage mais non est fromage.”* The word of the week is “confit” and it’s relation, “confiture,” which has replaced the more familiar but less cheffly-sounding “jam” in his lexicon, even when he’s referring to actual jam. Sorry, “grape confiture”.
Two can jouer á cette jeu,** my large-headed friend. Which is why instead of a plain old BLT, I give you a BLAT – bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato – with homemade garlic confit mayo. Suckez sur ça!***
*”Nuke the hell out of that product that resembles cheese yet is not cheese.”
**“Two can play at this game.”
***“Suck on that!”
There is NEVER ENOUGH.
Confit, as Ryan would tell me if I didn’t already know, refers to something that has been cooked at a low temperature completely immersed in fat. It’s then cooled and stored in the fat, making it a great way to preserve foods. Its most well-known incarnation is duck confit, where the duck is cooked in duck fat until it is tender enough to fall off the bone, but you can confit all kinds of shit. My favorite is garlic, done on the stove under a layer of good olive oil. Garlic confit is something you should always have hanging around in the fridge*; it’s simple to make and both the cloves and the oil have an unbelievable flavor of sweet, slightly nutty roasted garlic.
*I personally don’t, but then I should not be your model for a well-lived life.
See? Not enough!
Some people throw the cloves in unpeeled, cook, and then peel and store. That’s never been my preference, because I’m not what one might call “graceful” or “coordinated” or “possessing superior fine motor skills” and I tend to smush the cooked cloves when trying to peel them. I mean, the finished garlic is really soft, it’s not like I’m some kind of wild beast, but still. So I peel first, and to hell with the naysayers.
Sigh. Give me this and a baguette and I’m DONE.
I pour olive oil over the cloves until they’re covered by about half an inch, crank the stove to as-low-as-possible, and let things be for about 45 minutes. No vigorous simmering or excessive browning – just a gentle hot tub to lull the cloves into a state of ultimate relaxation. The garlic is done when a knife slides cleanly into the softened cloves.
You can flavor both the garlic and oil however you want – rosemary is nice, as is sage; peppercorns or crushed red pepper are also fun, and the spicy, garlicky oil is great for sauteeing shrimp. Since I wanted both the cloves and oil for my homemade mayo, which is destined for a wide variety of sandwiches, I stuck with the basics so I’d have a jack-of-all-trades product.
I hate to admit it, but bacon can’t quite knock garlic out of the number-one spot.
While I finished the confit and gathered the rest of the mayo ingredients, I started the bacon in the oven. Were it not Cheap Ass Monday – and were I not on vacation, and thus poorly disposed to doing anything that involves undue levels of effort – I would have shuffled off to a fancy grocery store to buy some fancy-pants bacon. Things being what they were, I went with the Smithfield they had at Pathmark. It’s the only bacon endorsed by Paula Deen!
Oven bacon is way less of a hassle than stove top bacon, and I almost always cook it that way – turn the oven to 375, stick the bacon in, pull it out when it smells like bacon. Ta-da.
I decided to do my mayo in the blender rather than by hand, since I’ve had such good luck with other emulsions in the blender. I’ve heard that you get a creamier texture when you hand-whisk, but since this mayo was destined to be smeared on sammiches I figured it didn’t matter (plus, Mark Bittman, whose basic method I used, told me it didn’t). For the oil, I decided on a blend of canola, regular olive and garlicky olive to give the finished mayo a distinct but not overwhelming flavor.
I put my egg*, some champagne vinegar diluted with water, cayenne, mustard, 10 cloves of garlic and about a quarter-cup of oil in the blender and let ‘er rip to get things started. You need some liquid to get the emulsion going; lemon juice is traditional, but white wine or diluted white wine vinegar will also work.
*Yes, it was raw, because I am FUCKING CRAZY.
This picture grosses me out a little. Is it just me, or does the mayo look like it has a pair of puckery lips?
When it looked like things were nicely blended, I began dribbling the remaining oil in oh so slowly. When the mixture started to get really creamy, I sped up my pour and dumped the remaining oil in with reckless abandon.
By the time the last drop went in, the mixture had tightened into a thick, smooth, creamy, pale ivory mayo with just enough olive oily flavor and the subtle perfume of roasted garlic. I briefly considered and then rejected the addition of some raw garlic to make the flavor more assertive (and thereby produce aioli). Next time, Gadget. Next time.
I made these things! Jars make me feel professional.
I bottled up my mayo and the remaining garlic and oil and stuffed them in the fridge while I pulled the BLAT fixins’ together.
Can I just say, I don’t think I’ll ever buy commercial mayo again. And if you own a blender or fo-pro, neither should you. Blender mayo takes all of 90 seconds to make, especially when you skip the garlic confit step, and tastes so much better. Worlds better. Better like, I thought I didn’t like mayo. But as with tomatoes, it turns out I do. I just don’t like Hellman’s. You can make as much or as little as you want, flavor it however you want, and you don’t have to include guar gum unless you really want to.
The past few weeks have just been so full of the flush of new discovery…I’m a little overcome. Although this is all somewhat tempered by the fact that I ate an olive last week and found that I was correct to be suspicious of them. DID NOT LIKE.
I reckon this is a mighty fine lookin’ fixins’ bar.
I sliced an avocado and toasted up some potato bread. Having never had a BLT before, I relied on Brian to procure the most appropriate type of lettuce and he returned with a head of iceberg. We gathered some tomatoes from the garden, just as juicy and intensely colored as the last batch.
The BL(A)T was inspired not just by a need to cavalierly toss around the word “confit,” but also by a need to see if my newfound love of tomatoes would help me make sense of a sandwich that I’ve never understood. Bacon, lettuce and tomato on a sandwich, sure, but what’s the sandwich part – Roast beef? A burger? BLTs seem like all accouterments and no foundation, like having pockets hanging off a belt but no pants. Sure, you have somewhere to put your wallet, but your junk is hanging out there for all the world to see.
Okay, maybe the analogy starts to fail at that point, but I still never got it. The BLT as an independent sandwich just seemed insubstantial and unnecessary, a turkey club gone awry.
$8.00, please. Chips are extra.
I slathered mayo on the toast, forcing myself to use more than the half a teaspoon I would normally use (although I’m pretty sure that most people still wouldn’t consider the amount I used “slathering”). Layer of lettuce, layer of avocado, layer of tomato, layer of bacon, more mayoed toast. Insert toothpicks, slice in half, place in twee red baskets for glamor shot.
So yes, I get the BL(A)T now. It’s a damn good sandwich, and way more filling than I’d anticipated. Without a load of deli meat weighing it down, the crisp lettuce, sweet tomato and salty-smoky bacon all shine through. The avocado added a pleasing bite and richness, and the mayo shot the sandwich through with a sweet garlic undertone that was a perfect foil to the juicy acid of the tomato.
This? Is a good sandwich.
I don’t think I could eat one made with commercial mayo and wan supermarket tomatoes, because they’re just not very good and a sandwich this spare depends on the high quality of each individual ingredient. (Case in point: my main gripe with this sandwich? The bacon. And I almost never gripe with bacon.)
The BLAT: it’s not fine dining, but it’s damn good eating. Confit that, motherfuckers.
20-30 cloves garlic, peeled
1 – 1 1/2 c. olive oil, enough to cover the garlic by 1/2 inch
Dried spices or fresh herbs of your choice, optional
Put the garlic in a heavy saucepan; pour the oil over to completely submerge. Put the pot over very low heat (I used the “simmer” burner on my stove on the very lowest setting) and cook for 30-45 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and easily pierced with a knife. Pour finished confit into a jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you have trouble getting the heat low enough on your stovetop, you can also do this in the oven at 175 degrees for about 1 hour; just put the garlic and oil in a covered dutch oven or oven-safe covered pot.
Sweet Garlic Mayo
adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
1 large egg
2 tbsp. lemon juice OR 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar and 1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. dried mustard
1/2 c. canola or other neutral oil
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. garlic oil from the confit
10 cloves garlic confit
Put the egg, lemon juice, cayenne, mustard, garlic cloves and 1/4 c. of the oil in a blender; blend until combined and uniform in color, about 20 seconds.
With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the remaining oil. SLOWLY. Once you’ve got half the remaining oil in and the mixture is starting to thicken and lighten in color, you can speed up your pour a bit. If the mayo is too thick once all the oil has been added, blend in a small amount of water or cream to thin it; you can also adjust the seasoning if you’d like.
Transfer finished mayo to a jar and store for up to a week.