Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Saving My Summer Bacon and the Art of the BLT by Cleo Coyle

Sizzling Bacon 
                 +  Slices of Fresh Garden Tomato
 +  Crisp, Cold Lettuce
= Joy.

A summer BLT is a wonderful thing, but sweating over a hot stove top is no joy at all. My solution is one many of you may already employ yourselves. I bake my bacon in the oven--and it comes out absolutely perfect every time.

Here's how I do it...

(1) Line a shallow rimmed baking sheet (or half-sheet pan like this one) with aluminum foil. 

(2) Place a flat roasting rack (like this one) over the foil. Coat with non-stick spray for easy cleanup. (FYI - I always use Pam Grilling spray for this. It works well at high oven temps, including outdoor grills.) 

(3) Lay your bacon slices flat on the rack as shown.

(4) Cook in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for about 12 minutes. Turn the strips of bacon over and bake for another 8 to 15 minutes, depending on your bacon's thickness and the amount of crispness you prefer.

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When the bacon is cooked to perfection, I loosely wrap two slices at a time in a paper towel. (Note: At this stage, if there is a little bacon grease left on the slices, I leave it on there for reheating results that actually sizzle.) I then place the paper-towel-wrapped bacon in a Ziplock bag and store the plastic bag in my refrigerator. 

Over the next week or two, when I want bacon for a BLT or turkey club or to crumble over a salad, I take a package of the paper-towel wrapped bacon slices from the fridge, pop the whole thing in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds (no more), unroll the bacon, and I’ve got hot, sizzling slices again. If there is any visible bacon grease, now is when I blot it. 

This is an amazingly efficient and convenient way to cook bacon and keeps the kitchen cool. Huzzah!


* Most Expensive BLT - The Bacon Bling sandwich at a cost of $237.00 was created by Tangberrys coffee house in Gloucestershire (UK). It was made up of seven rashers of rare breed pig, truffle spread, water cress, a free range egg, sliced truffles, saffron, edible gold dust, and it was cooked in truffle oil! The sandwich set the new world record for the most expensive bacon sandwich (commercially available), according to the World Record Academy.

* Oddest BLT? - For over three decades, a gentleman named Bill Burns anchored the local news on KDKA TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. Bill was a beloved fixture in my native town, and his favorite BLT was served to him regularly by a local eatery: bacon, lettuce, tomato, and peanut butter. Not for me, but he loved it!

* The BLT as Art - In 1963, a giant BLT sandwich was enshrined in pop art culture by sculptor Claes Oldenburg. It is made of vinyl, kapok, and wood; and painted in acrylic. It is now on exhibit at the Whitney in NYC. Every time it's moved, it must be restacked, which means it varies between exhibits.


And may you...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

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  1. Mmmm the perfect BLT! A masterpiece in gustatory delight.
    Well done.

  2. Yum! Now I know what I want for lunch! I love the bacon saving idea, too, although we try to limit our bacon consumption to twice a year. But something that tastes so good really can't be that bad for you, can it?

  3. Peg - We LOVE bacon! It's an amazing flavor, and we use it like the many "old timers" did in my family who lived well into their 90s--as something to enhance the flavor of other dishes, including fresh vegetables. We crumble bacon over a big salad, use bacon as a starter for green beans, etc. We balance our diet with fresh fruits and veg and get daily exercise, and have done well at the doc's (so far, so good anyway).

    You know, balance is so important to good health - mental and physical. We think flavor is important to good eating, too! Many members of my Italian family are in the restaurant business. Like them, I enjoy celebrating our culinary heritage of cured meats, including pancetta, salami, prosciutto, etc. Buon appetito!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. Libby - A pleasure, as always, to hear from you! I could not agree more, the BLT is indeed a masterful mix of flavors and textures. If you get a chance to view that video (linked above) from the Whitney Museum of American Art, give it a go. As an artist yourself, you might get a kick out of the way they assemble the famous pop art BLT sculpture of Claes Oldenburg's!

    Here's to the art of cooking (and eating)!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. I love a BLT. I've never tried it with peanut butter (sounds weird!), but the addition of fresh avocado is fantastic. I'm like Peg, now I know what I want for lunch!

    1. Diane - I'm with you on the peanut butter. That's a little too exotic for me, too, but I like the fresh avocado idea. Lots of other vegetables have found their way onto my BLT, as well - cucumbers, radishes, banana peppers, jalapeno. It's a little party with the bacon as the guest of honor!

      Thanks for dropping by today, Diane!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

    2. There is a marvelous wrap place in Ellsworth, Maine called 86 This. They have a fantastic wrap called the BLAT--bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato.
      If you are ever anywhere near there (Bangor, Bar Harbor, etc.) make the trip into Ellsworth. It's worth it for 86 This.

  6. Can't wait to try bacon in the oven, Cleo. Summer BLT. Perfect!