How to cook the perfect bacon sandwich

The hallowed breakfast staple has been the subject of bitter debate for decades. Streaky or back bacon? Brown or white bread? We get to the crust of the matter.



It's the ultimate hangover cure and the nemesis of wavering vegetarians. Hot, crispy, salty, often greasy. Total yumminess slapped between two slabs of bread, drowned in sauce and washed down with a vat of coffee. Even the most epic of nights out are no match for a bacon sandwich in the morning.


We have the Brits to thank for this particular import. Older than the monarchy and possibly more important, everyone has a favourite version. Civil wars have almost been sparked by whether the bacon should be griddled or grilled, which sauce is the best complement and whether butter has any place in the classic bacon sandwich.


Nigella Lawson says that, "nothing is as good as a bacon sandwich made with white bread," while Nigel Slater adds that, "the perfect bacon sandwich includes plenty of ketchup and floppy bacon."


"The bread", he insists, "must be of the worst sort and to really enjoy a bacon sandwich, I think you've got to be a bit drunk."

Here in New Zealand, we have our own ideas. We took to the streets to ask the bacon eating public what should go into the ultimate bacon sandwich, and received some passionate and diverse responses. Read on and let us know if you agree.


THE BREAD


According to Troy Bilbrough, founder of popular Kiwi burger bar, Bacon Brothers, there is something intrinsically Kiwi about a soft sliced white bread bacon butty.


"There will always be something in my heart for that style," he smiles. "Though, lately I've also been baking sourdough at home and then toasting it in the bacon fat and making some golden breakfast butties for the family."


The Topp Twins agree with their recipe for the perfect bacon sandwich including nothing more than streaky bacon, white sandwich bread and butter.


Facebook is split with some, like Emily from Leeston favouring rustic white or Vogels Original, while Catherine from Auckland says sourdough or wholemeal is the way to go.


THE BACON


Troy's personal favourite bacon of all time is Poaka Streaky Bacon from the Riccarton Bush Farmers Market on a Saturday Morning (find them online).


"They do a maple dry cured bacon, and it is next level, just melts in your mouth. Their farm is free range and the pigs eat acorns and walk around an oak forest. Truly game-changing."


Streaky seems to be the bacon of choice across the board with 90% of Kiwi Facebook users using it in their bacon sandwiches.


A few brands got special mentions. On one Facebook group, which has been set up to celebrate New Zealand products and businesses, Hellers, Matakana Bacon Company and Woody's Free Range Farm all got shout outs from Kiwi bacon lovers.


BUTTER OR NO BUTTER?


Butter in your butty basically means fat layered on fat. Nirvana for some but way too much grease for others. Troy is all for it, recommending, "generous amounts of butter, Lewis Road Sea Salt is my go-to."


On social media, around half are yay and the rest are nay. There were some complete outliers with one person insisting that a smear of Philadelphia cream cheese beats butter any day of the week.


WOULD YOU LIKE SAUCE WITH THAT?


According to Troy, sometimes no sauce is the best option as it lets the bacon shine through.


"Other days I'd go for a homemade aioli or freshly made BBQ sauce to complement the smokey flavours."


When she shared her ultimate bacon butty recipe with NewstalkZB last year, Kiwi cookbook author and food editor, Nick Wickes recommended a good relish or tomato sauce, along with a swipe of wholegrain mustard.


There was a fair amount of disagreement amongst social media users, with around 40% opting for no sauce and the remainder sticking to old favourites, such as HP Sauce and Watties Tomato Sauce.


HOW TO COOK


Troy says that the best way to cook bacon is on a cast iron skillet.


"Add a little coconut oil or olive oil, not as hot as it can go as you don't want to burn the bacon, just hot enough to make it crispy, and then place the streaky bacon down, don't touch or move until the sides start to lift up and you can see that it is getting crispy. Flip once and when the other side is crispy remove, let it cool down and eat!"


On social media, grilling won by a landslide with almost 80% choosing the method to cook their bacon, though one person did mention microwaving as an acceptable method when you're in a rush.

OUR VERDICT


The bacon sandwich of our dreams is still soft white bread, buttered on both sides, then piled with far more than the recommended serving of quality dry-cured New Zealand bacon. It has to be smothered with half a bottle of tomato sauce. So much that it ends up on your hands, your cheeks, your elbows and on your t-shirt. That inevitable big red blob that sneaks its way out, no matter how vigilant you are.


Having said that, speaking to other Kiwi bacon lovers has definitely opened our eyes to the possibilities. We're looking forward to experimenting with a few different breads, bacons and cooking techniques next time that bacon craving hits (see you next Saturday morning, then?)