While we were visiting Linda’s parents in South Carolina, my dad texted me a picture of a poster they saw near the condo they were renting in the Florida Keys. My eyes caught all sorts of things as they skimmed down the poster: bacon, beer, beer tasting, bacon eating contest (what?!), and then finally….”50/50 Amateur Bacon Cook-Off”. After he texted the photo, my dad simply asked, “Are you up for it?” I was. I was SO up for it.
After receiving more contest details, I got to work brainstorming my ideas for my “bacon inspired” dish as well as what I would do with all my prize money. I had grand visions of what it would be like when I won this seemingly professionally organized contest. The judges were 5 local chefs who owned restaurants on the Florida Keys. I imagined them coming up to me and offering jobs with bonuses to work at their restaurants instead of flying back to Alaska. I imagined the Food Network calling the next day offering me my own bacon-themed show. I imagined the proud [fighting-back-tears] look on Linda’s face as she saw her husband crowned “Amateur Bacon Cook-Off Winner”. Like I said, grand visions. I couldn’t wait.
And what was going to win me my own Food Network show and the accolades of my family and an entire chain of islands? I had the answer. My own creation: The Cheddar Bacon Waffle BLT.
Looks pretty good, right? Well, it was! But I should be more specific. It was good, the night before. You see, as any good contest participant would do, I practiced my recipe before serving it up to a panel of judges. And it was good. Not mind-blowingly good, but good none the less. “Good enough to win a cook-off”, I thought. Well, I thought wrong.
Let me cut to the chase: the whole “Beef, Beer, and Bacon” event was a complete unorganized mess. This was no professional festival. This was a fundraiser for an elementary school. And the event coordinator was the assistant principal. I was told to arrive promptly at 4:15pm (with my dish completed and ready to serve) since the judging would take place at 4:30. Well, the judging took place around 5:30pm and my BLTs were a cold and soggy mess as they made their way to the judging table.
I lost. To cupcakes. Yes, bacon cupcakes beat my cheddar bacon waffle BLT. Goodbye Food Network. Goodbye chef contract. Goodbye fame.
I was humbled and upset by losing. Especially losing in a contest that didn’t really let me show what I can really do. But at least I tried. And you know what? I still got that proud look from Linda. And that felt pretty good.
Oh, by the way! You may remember one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to come up with an original recipe. Well, I did it:
Cheddar Bacon Waffle BLT (w/ Chipotle Mayo)
adapted from here
-2 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces)
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
-2 tablespoons sugar
-3 whole eggs
-2 cups buttermilk
-2 tablespoons melted butter
-1 pound of bacon, cooked until crisp, crumbled, plus 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat
-6 ounces freshly grated cheddar cheese
-Non-stick cooking spray
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until completely blended. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and bacon fat in a medium bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined and no pockets of dry flour remain. Fold in bacon and cheese.
Preheat a waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and cook waffle batter using about 1 cup of batter per waffle. You can then transfer the waffle to a 200°F oven to remain warm while you prepare the rest of the waffles.
BLT with Chipotle Mayo Recipe
-1 Pound Bacon
-1 Head of Lettuce
-4 Large Tomatoes
-1 Cup of Mayonnaise
-1 1/2 Tablespoons of adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
Mix the adobo sauce with the mayonnaise and set aside.
Cook the bacon using your favorite method, but make sure that they are CRISPY! Don’t tell me about the whole “crispy bacon carbonizes it too much and loses the flavor of the pork belly blah blah blah”. We are going for crunch here people.
Slice the tomatoes to your desired thickness and get leaves of lettuce off of that head.
Spread your chipotle mayo on that bread/waffle and then assemble your BLT with your B(acon), L(ettuce), and T(omato).
SERVE IT HOT AND DON’T LET A STUPID ELEMENTARY SCHOOL FUNDRAISER RUIN THIS SANDWICH FOR YOU. 😉