Monday, May 13, 2013

Adventures in Cooking: Bacon Reuben

"Have you ever heard of a bacon Reuben?" The innocuous question struck like lightning, a brilliant flash leaving you disoriented and confused, unsure of what had just happened. Struggling to recover, my gray matter leapt to the logical Reuben-with-bacon alternative.

"Of course I've made a Reuben with bacon," I replied haughtily. After all, what fellow hadn't considered adding bacon to every appetizer, entree and dessert in their repertoire. No red-blooded American carnivore could open their fridge for ingredients in a culinary delight, see bacon, and pass up the opportunity to supplement the known with the savory.

"Not that, you moron. A Reuben where they use bacon instead of corned beef. I saw it on TV." The thunder rolled in and only then did my brain realize the traumatic event that had occurred. The lightning left me disoriented, but the thunder provided focus. My condescension was smashed. A Reuben sans corned beef with bacon. A bacon Reuben.A bac-en.

Working faster than ever before, my stomach juices churned with brilliance and substituted in for my dazed and confused brain, "Well I hope they made it with a fried egg too!"

"No, I don't think they did." The coolness accompanying her matter-of-fact attitude, her nonchalance, her complete and utter badassitude struck me as solidly as her beauty the first time I met her. This vision of amazing had just delivered on her end of the bargain when I asked her to marry me. No matter what I would do for the remainder of my wretched existence, sharing the idea for a bacon Reuben would trump everything I could ever offer. I knew again why I loved her so much: because she delivered bacon.

I attempted to play it cool in the way only a complete dork marrying a beautiful badass can, i.e. not at all, but trying damn hard! The sandwich had delivered, tormenting not just brain, not just stomach, but both at alternate and simultaneous times. There was no space loud enough to drown out the inexorable, "Baaaaaaccccooooooonnn. Reeeeeuuuuuubbeeeeennnn." that echoed and resounded around me like the tell-tale sandwich it was.

Normally delicious sustenance turned to ash in my mouth, "baaaaaaccoooooonnnn." Couldn't they hear it? How can they sit there with their hamburgers, their pizza, their nachos and their pasta? "Rrreeuuuuubbbbbeeeeennnnnnn."

Tormented, I fled. Days passed in a blur as I continued to return to the inevitable.

I was going to have to make it.

The blur of days passing turned interminable and inexorably dragged on as all joy of life was sucked out and replaced with the vacuum of a bacon-less existence. Finally, a glorious Saturday appeared on the horizon with no errands, chores or deadlines to choke out the possibility of creating a masterpiece. Like Gandalf with the Riders of the Rohirrim saving Helms Deep, this Day of Saturn swooped in at the last possible moment to present an opportunity for salvation through bacon.

Hurriedly, I assembled my ingredients as the never-ending "baaaacccoooon" reverberated throughout my haunted home as the poltergeists echoed, "reeeeuuuuubbeeeennnn".

"Shut up! I'm making it!" but the steady thrum of ghastly cries for bacon only increased in intensity as the impending sizzle of side of pig approached.

The skies opened and sun illuminated the world as the first hiss of melting butter crackled across the room. As the solid cream yielded to temperature and liquefied and greeted the fat of hog with the hunger of an old friend.

Silence from the specters as they hung with bated breath along with the rest of the universe, though their breath would be in abatement forevermore.

Losing myself to the intoxicating savor, I struggled to come back to myself and the battle at hand. A warning shot as the grease ejaculated towards my hovering hand brought me to the present and the fight against the bacon reuben was on.

Spatula and fork struggled to overcome the grease and deadly temptation of eating too soon, but the grease continued to excite and erupt damaging my fair epidermis. Admitting defeat of the battle, but not the war, I conceded to cooking at a lower temperature and resigned myself to a long and bitter day.

The apparitions summoned forth ectoplasm in place of breath and the madness set in once more. "baaaaaacccoooooon". Worse! Demons of Mephistopheles danced about holding miniature pitchforks (I'll call them forks) and spearing forth the succulent flesh of bacon to dance it in front of me, tempting me with salmonella and deliciousness.

With a roar I erupted from the skillet towards the one sanctuary I might claim against such dastardly and craven tactics, the refrigerator.

Chocolate. Milk.

Pure, ice cold, refreshing, sweet chocolate intermixed with deadly milk. I immersed myself in the self-induced luxury of lactose poisoning, knowing the dreaded cramps and other bowel difficulties would not bother me until after the passing of the demons.

With my thirst slaked and milk churning inside my stomach, Mephistopheles called off the hordes of imps and I was able to fry the bacon in peace.

"Baaaaaaaaaacccooooooooon." No! The phantasms! No longer possessing the mental acuity to resist them, my hand plunged with alarming speed to the abyss of bacon and grease, NO!

I wrenched my hand to the side to avoid the disaster that would necessitate a trip to the hospital only to feel the ridges of the temperature dial fill my hand. It had been a trap! All along this is what the ghasts of the house were pushing me towards! I watched in horror as the alien hand robbed my sense of agency and steadily increased the temperature.

Already the excitation of the grease splattered and popped, primed from the previous tryst with heat. Wrenching back control of my hand, I rushed to contain the damage. A paper towel, an envelope, a plate! Shields and mats to protect the furniture from the bacon emergences.

Finally, the desired crisp began to take shape on the shrunken slabs. With great alacrity, my trusted fork and spatula scooped up the worthy to lead to Valhalla of the paper-towel-covered plate.

"Reeeeuuuuubbeeeennnnn" the specters shouted as they shook their ectoplasmic fists against the walls, shaking the house.

"I haven't forgotten! You rotting, necrotic blackguards!" The sauerkraut was armed and ready, and my fork plunged into it again and again, leaving no hope of sauerkraut left behind and unharmed. The sputter warned me that the temperature and grease were not prepared for this new intrusion, and the first real sense of fear tore through my soul as the liquid of the sour greens explosively reacted with the hot grease of bacon.

"I may have taken a misstep." The bulwark that was my paper-plate shield defended the hand that re-ventured to the temperature dial to spin it back to manageable levels while simultaneously popping down the would-be toast.

A quick fry and the fermented cabbage rested safely out of the pan. For now.

My salivary glands were gushing and I could not resist plucking the fruit that was bacon and tossing it whole into my waiting-to-be-burned mouth. Delicious agony in my mouth with the sadistic juice not content to scald my innards, but dribbling out onto my chin. It was worth it.

My battle plan was nearing completion but the winner was still up for grabs. Eggs, numbering four, cracked out into the welcoming juice of bacon. Cackling maniacally, I rushed to assure that my condiments and the lesser foods would be ready to receive their monarch. Slicing and dicing, tomato and lettuce sacrificed their form to the masterpiece. The Dressing of the Thousand Isles would be opened and waiting to adorn the chosen one.

NO! There was no dressing! Why, God? Why, on today of all days? Why?

My tormentors were silent in commiseration, and to this day I do not know if it was my own demented mind, the ghasts, or God answering my prayers, but my eyes were drawn inexorably to the bottle of delicious mayonnaise hiding on the bottom shelf. "Maaaaaaayyyyooooooo".
YES!

Mayonnaise would be the perfect topping for a bacon & egg reuben!

And so the construction began. But no, there was too much for a single masterpiece!

Another plate. Another pair of would-be toast crammed down into the fiery grill of toaster. TWO bacon & egg reubens would be the outcome. I would not be defeated!


I carefully layered the bacon to maximize height potential of the coming sandwich. Finally, I was ready for sauerkraut on the bacon and the lesser foods on the crown.


Not since God looked upon Adam had a creation been deemed so good, but as with Adam, this creation was incomplete and needed a companion. It needed eggs.



Completion!

The construction was nearing its end, only joining together crown and throne of the sandwich with Its Royal Majesty, the Bacon & Egg Reuben between, would the sandwich truly be finished.

Success!

I sat down to have audience with IRM, the Just and Honorable, Bacon & Egg Reuben, but madness and delirium overtook me and moments later I surveyed the carnage of my actions:


I cannot describe the emotions and feelings I went through while I sat there, but the hunger had been so intense that when I say "moments later", know I mean "moments later". As in, literally, moments. As in, no more than 12 seconds. As in, the time it's taken you to read this last paragraph is probably comparable to how long it took me to eat this sandwich.

And like some ravenous zombie, the gore left behind attracted my hunger and attention as well, until the wafting smell of the remaining flesh in the room smacked me across the face and drew my ire and I fell upon the second Bacon & Egg Reuben sandwich in my fervor.

But this Reuben would not be felled so easily, it fought back! Using my age and decreased stomach size against me, it rebelled and fought every bite and lick of the fingers, every scoop of delicious carnage revolted against its impending doom.

And it falls upon me now to say that it is a sad day. I have crossed the point from youth and begun my descent into old age. I lost the battle against the second Bacon & Egg Reuben, not because I couldn't finish it, but because the thought of making myself sick to finish it struck a note of discord within me.

Something that I had never even considered doing before, stopping before I made myself sick, now seemed not just a viable option, but the BEST option!

IRM, Bacon & Egg Reuben II remained standing, but I am confident in saying that it must have been a Pyrrhic victory.


The first campaign against the bacon & egg reuben twins ended in failure I suppose, but it was not the outcome of having consumed the twofold sandwiches that is the point in eating, but the glorious taste of battle itself, that is the reason.


That'll do, pig, that'll do.

Epilogue

The statement struck like lightning.  Off-handed and innocuous once more. "I didn't know we had Swiss..."

Oh my God! No! No no no no no! I FORGOT SWISS CHEESE! The horror!

Already I can hear them coming for me, chanting incessantly day and night: the tell-tale sandwich. 
We will meet again. 

"Baaaaaaacccooooonnn. Reeeeuuuuuubbeeeeennnnn."