16 slices (1 pound) apple-smoked bacon
2 ripe but firm pears
About 1 tablespoon sugar
3 pounds coarsely ground sirloin, chilled
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces (about 1/2 cup) crumbled blue cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil plus about 1 teaspoon
24 soft, mini burger buns
2 1/2 cups baby arugula leaves
1 small red onion (about the same diameter as the buns), very thinly sliced
1 pint basket cherry tomatoes (optional)
Serves 12 [Cook's Notes: As The Virgin has no children and isn't a Big Love sister-wife, I quartered this recipe to be more manageable. I also opted out of the cherry tomatoes and onions, used Hawaiian sweet rolls instead of plain buns and replaced the arugula with less bitter spinach.]
The Virgin's DeStructions:
1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Unless your bacon is magically lean, you'll probably have to cook the snot out of it before the piggy starts to sizzle past flabby. Drain bacon on a paper towel.
2. Cut half of the bacon slices into three pieces each. Crumble the remaining bacon and set both aside on separate plates or paper towels. Bacon doesn't like to crumble unless super crisp, so The Virgin used her fingers. Just rip it apart with your bare hands and it'll all work out fine. I promise.
3. Next, I used a potato peeler to remove the skin from the pears, which worked like a charm. The real instructions say to halve the pears lengthwise and core them. This was the point at which I broke out the Cutco knife (Yes, I have one lonely blade that's not from a discount store). Unfortunately, I had no idea how to core a pear. A few strategic cuts later, I managed to get a square-shaped hunk o' pear core out from the middle with my sharp but completely inappropriate carving knife.
4. Cut the pears crosswise into thin slices and put them in a bowl. Toss with the sugar and set aside.
5. Combine the beef, thyme, crumbled bacon, and pepper in another bowl. Knead with your hands until mixed.
6. Make baby balls out of the meat mixture (48 for full recipe) and make a little indentation in half of them. The recipe recommends you waste a perfectly good egg and risk breaking it by using the shallow end to make a divot in half of the balls. Here, The Virgin's brilliance prevailed as I covered my egg in plastic wrap, made the depressions and returned it to its carton in the fridge.