You read it right. “Veggie,” meaning I didn’t use Bacon. Don’t freak out! Keep reading, have some faith… I’ll explain.
You see, when I was a teenager, some sort of fad diet was going around. In attempt to cut fat, I remember my Mother and Sisters browning Provolone cheese with tons of Liquid Smoke to make “healthy Blt’s.” They weren’t bad then, but the cheese more often than not burned, or was rubbery, or tasted like the dark corner of a forgotten smokehouse. Just too much.
Fast forward 100 years to my present adulthood, and sure enough… I’m making the same thing on occasion. You see I cut most of the Meat from my diet a while back. But sometimes a girl really just wants a solid Sandwich. And I am NOT the girl to order a “Veggie Delight” on a menu. NEVER a delight in my experience. (Same reason why I dislike vegetarian restaurants. I’d rather order the one veggie item a “regular” restaurant has. It almost always beats out the Sprouted, Soy Cheese, Kimchee, Agave, Pickled Peach thing I’m supposed to crave. Gross!) I digress.
Back to the problem of the burned Cheese, or Rubbery cheese, or too aggressive smoke. All solved last night when I decided to kick my home kitchen into test mode!
The secrets? I used a silpat baking sheet. Worked like a charm. Made about 5 batches before I got the time and temperature right. The Liquid Smoke I used in very light doses. (It’s not a chemical, it’s natural… I promise!) The final tip? Don’t mess with perfection too much! Other than adding some avocado, I used Hellman’s Mayo, thick cut local and perfectly ripe Tomatoes (a great use for the ones your neighbor is about to hook you up with in the next 3 weeks), some lovely Butter Lettuce and some hearty Sourdough Bread. Don’t forget the Kosher Salt on the Tomato, either!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat liner.
Cut 1 slice of Provolone Cheese, about 3/4 ounce in weight, into 4 even “strips.”
Brush 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke equally on both sides of the strip.
Dust lightly with Salt and Pepper.
With the slices separated on the silpat, bake for 9 minutes. Once removed from the oven, place on a paper towel to drain any excess Oil. (Most of the fat renders off. Another awesome benefit!)
After cooling for a few minutes, the cheese will be incredibly crispy. And ready for your sandwich. You’ve got it from here…
Keep cooking up summer!