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Bacon-Infused Bloody Marys With BLT Garnish

Now that's a mouthful
Bacon-Infused Bloody Marys With BLT Garnish recipe - The Daily Meal
Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune; Food styling by Mark Graham

Mini BLTs garnish bacon Bloody Marys with whimsy and an explosion of flavor. A freshly made arugula pesto stands in for the lettuce. The bacon-infused vodka method here comes from Brian Bartels' "The Bloody Mary" (Ten Speed Press, 2017). For the cocktail itself, we've opted for a mix or your own favorite recipe. The skewered BLTs were developed in the Tribune test kitchen by Mark Graham.

This recipe was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.

Ingredients

For the cocktail:

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bottle (750 milliliters) vodka
  • Bloody mary mix or your favorite recipe
  • Skewered BLTs (recipe follows)

For the skewered BLTs:

  • 8 Ounces pine nuts, toasted
  • 5 Ounces arugula
  • 2 1/2 Ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices bread, lightly toasted
  • Reserved bacon slices (from infusing the vodka)
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes

Directions

For the cocktail:

Step 1: In a skillet over medium-low heat, cook 4 strips bacon, about 10 minutes. Flip the bacon and cook the other side until crispy, about 5 minutes more. Remove the bacon, and reserve it for the drink garnish. Let the bacon fat cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer it to a container.

Step 2: In a large sealable container (or 2 canning jars), combine 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat, 1 tablespoon black peppercorns and 1 bottle (750 milliliters) vodka. Seal and refrigerate 6 hours to allow the flavors to integrate.

Step 3: Transfer to the freezer; freeze, 30 to 60 minutes. The fat cap will look like hardened wax curdling on top of the surface. Skim off the fat cap with a big spoon and discard.

Step 4: Let the infused vodka come to room temperature, then pass it through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Store in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 months.

Step 5: Proceed with your favorite Bloody Mary recipe, using the bacon-infused vodka as your spirit base and garnishing with the skewered BLTs (recipe follows).

For the skewered BLTs:

Step 1: In a food processor, combine 8 ounces toasted pine nuts, 5 ounces arugula, 2 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese and 1 clove garlic. Pulse until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Step 2: With the motor running, pour in 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or just enough to achieve a thick paste. This pesto should be thicker than you may be used to, so that it stays in place. Refrigerate until it's the texture of butter, about 30 minutes.

Step 3: Spread a generous amount of pesto over one side of 4 slices of lightly toasted bread. Top 2 slices with the reserved bacon; cover with the remaining slices, pesto side down. Slice the sandwiches into bite-size squares.

Step 4: Thread on long skewers, with a grape or cherry tomato on top and bottom. Slide the skewers into the drinks without dunking the sandwiches, and serve.