Monday, October 13, 2008
The Ultimate Peanut Butter and Bacon Sandwich: Bacon and Chile-Chocolate Peanut Butter on a Brioche Bun
I guess if there was a holy grail of the sandwich arts it would be a nice peanut butter and bacon sarnie. I am not talking about a couple of slices of limp grocery store bacon and nasty, sweet peanut butter on a couple slices of soggy processed white bread, I mean a real PB and Bacon. Here I strive to create what I believe to be the Platonic Ideal of the sandwich. The end result of my endeavors was crisply sublime and weighed in at a whopping 1800 calories (estimate, could be more). That is eight slices of bacon on a buttery brioche bun with the savory, spicy chocolate peanut butter. Following is the path I followed to make my Thick Cut Bacon and Chile-Chocolate Peanut Butter on Fresh Brioche Sandwich. Here is an artsy, cut in half shot of the sandwich in question.
I started the night before by whipping up the dough for a batch of my brioche burger buns as the bread choice for the sandwich. I thought the buttery, rich flavor of brioche would be an excellent delivery vehicle for the bacon. I use a slightly different recipe for these buns then I use for sweet pastry type confections (like my Candied Bacon Sticky Buns). The yeast goes into a third cup of warm milk and the same amount of warm water to proof. When this is good and frothy mix in about 4 cups of bread flour. I prefer King Arthur Brand Bread Flour-
Throw in a couple teaspoons of salt, three large eggs plus 2 yolks, a 1/4 cup sugar and knead for about 3 minutes. When this is combined I use my mixer with a bread hook to continue kneading for a further 7 minutes while I add a stick and a half of soft butter one hunk at a time. The dough goes in a greased bowl to proof somewhere warm, and then into the fridge overnight. The next day, take it out and divide into 8 even portions.
These guys go into a warm oven with the door open until nicely risen. Throw on an egg white wash and the rolls go into a 375 degree oven for 15-16 minutes until they look something like this-
While these are cooling we start on the peanut butter. I wanted to veer away from the cloyingly sweet sandwich peanut butter that we are used to from the countless cafeteria sandwiches of our youths. I envision the peanut butter I made here as more of a condiment, or a sauce, something to compliment the strong flavors of bacon. I have also been real into chile/chocolate flavor combinations lately so I thought this would work well. I started with some raw peanuts shipped fresh from Alabammy'-
I threw about two cups of these on a baking sheet and cooked them at 350 for about 20 minutes. When they are done, let them cool and you can kind of rub them between your hands to remove the skins. As this is going to be a savory/spicy peanut butter I am going to use a little extra virgin olive oil, 100% cocoa baking chocolate, a 1/3 cup of demerrera sugar, and one toasted and ground California chile (a little salt too)-
The two cups of peanut butter, 1/3 cup olive oil, 3 one inch squares of chocolate, dash of salt, chile powder, and sugar went into my food processor for a few minutes until smooth. I wanted this to be a little looser than normal peanut butter, that is why I used so much oil. You are left with a delicious smelling, thin, chocolate brown, peanut amalgam.
About this time I began the undisputed star of this deal, the bacon. I used 8 slices of thick, center cut bacon. Instead of frying I decided to bake the bacon in a 350 degree oven. I find that baking lends itself to an evenly and perfectly cooked bacon that is better in sandwich applications. Frying leaves chewy bits next to the crunchy bits which is great with eggs but less desirable for sandwiches.
It came out at just the right level of crispness after about 20 minutes.
I sliced one of the still warm brioche buns and laid on the bacon in two levels of four slices. Here is the gratuitous bacon porn-
I spooned on a couple of table spoons of the peanut butter-
I put the top on, sliced in half and took a large, crispy bite. I had feared that there would be something wrong with this, either texturally or the flavors would be off. However, everything worked out in a delicious peanut/bacon harmony the likes of which I have never before had the honor of tasting. The spicy, bitter-sweet peanut butter went perfectly with the smoky goodness of the bacon. The buttery and substantial Brioche bun stood up well to the somewhat unctuous ingredients it contained without getting sodden with grease or peanut butter. All in all, if you are going to eat about 1800 calories in one shot, this is definitely the way to do it.