Monday, August 31, 2009

Test #184: Bacon and CUCUMBER

The subject
We at BDJ Labs are huge fans of veggies--the closer to home that they're grown, the better. Nothing against the fine people of Guatemala and Honduras and other Central/South American countries; we just think that the fewer miles a beet or carrot has traveled to get from the dirt to your face, the better it tastes. We've had a great deal of success in our own gardens with some veggies (zucchini and tomatoes), no luck with others ("Um, are these onions? I can't tell without a magnifying glass"), and middling results with others. Cucumbers fall in this middle ground--we've grown them, but while we aim for giant green zepplins, we get stubby little pickles. That's fine--if our little stubs don't satisfy, there's Chicago's Green City Market (runs until Oct. 31), plenty of bodegas, and even Strack & Van Till's fine produce section. We cut up one of the arms-length cucumbers we bought recently and decided to wrap one up with delicious bacon.

By the way, the above pic is Larry the Cucumber, from the excellent VeggieTales series. Never mind that the stars of these 'toons are armless talking Christian vegetables--they're way more charming and funny than disturbing. We at BDJ Labs highly recommend watching the VT flick The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, maybe while munching on a BLT.

The results
Hey, guess what? Cucumbers don't cook up very well. They're great in salads (We'll share a recipe for our favorite cucumber dish below), awesome on sandwiches, and fantabulous by themselves...but baked in bacon? Not so much. We were very glad we cooked some nekkid bacon up next to the cucumber samples--gave us something to cleanse our bewildered palates with.

The conclusion: Bacon + cucumber = eh--you could do better

The recipe: Thai cucumber salad

This is a lot like the cucumbers that your friendly neighborhood Thai place puts out as an appetizer or side to other dishes. Insanely easy, and it goes great with anything--especially bacon.
2T sugar
3/4 C white or rice vinegar
Several dashes chili oil
2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced (peel them or don't--we don't care)
1 medium-size onion, thinly sliced and separated

Put the first three ingredients in a bowl; mix until sugar is dissolved. Arrange the cukes and onions in a big bowl; shake salt all over and let 'em rest while you go do something fun for a few minutes, like look at pictures of LOLdogs at or do a sudoku. Return, then dump the dressing concoction over the veggies. Let rest for an hour, then refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

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