I love a BLT, and I’m not alone. In polls where people were asked about their favorite sandwich, the BLT was either at the top or close to the top of every list. And it’s so simple: two slices of bread, mayo, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. That’s it.
Not all BLTs are great. I’ve been served many that I didn’t think were very good at all. What I think sets a great one apart from the others are (1) the quality of its contents and (2) the way it’s prepared.
Nightmare on Bacon Street
If a BLT is not prepared right, it can be difficult to eat. Slice the tomatoes too thick, and they will fall out of the sandwich. If they aren’t fresh, they will taste mealy.
If the bacon isn’t crisp enough, you won’t get a clean bite. The whole slice can come out of the sandwich, leaving it dangling over your chin. Also, eating bacon that is on the rare side probably is not a good idea. Bacon needs to be cooked medium to well-done. On the farm we used to call that taking the squeal out of the pig.
And lastly, if the sandwich is too thick, it will be difficult to get into your mouth. Eating it ends up being a messy experience.
We will solve all of these problems, one at a time. The result will be my recipe for a great tasting BLT.
Those Wonderful Fresh Tomatoes
In our area the best tomatoes are purchased from our local farmers’ market. They arrive on the stands in the middle of July, and they can be purchased through most of September. Much like wine, these tomatoes are products of the terroir. Their great taste is due to many factors such as environment, soil, water, climate, and care.
I like my tomatoes thinly sliced with just a touch of salt. Don’t add too much salt because the bacon will add plenty. Also, the thin slices seem to stay in the sandwich much better than thick slices.
Lettuce – the Green Crunch
There are two main choices: iceberg or romaine. According to my palate, iceberg lettuce tastes better than romaine when added to a sandwich, but the romaine probably has more nutritional value.
I don’t like lettuce spilling out of the sandwich, so I cut it to the same shape as the bread. It’s best to use only the “sweet parts” of the lettuce. Remove the parts of the leaves that are close to the core as well as the periphery of the leaves. I leave in the rib because this is what gives it the crunch.
Do NOT Even Think Of Holding The Mayo
I’d like you to consider replacing your current favorite brand of mayo with some homemade aioli. It’s delicious, easy to prepare, and definitely worth the effort.
For a good recipe, click on “Aioli Recipe at Epicurious.com.” Generously slather the aioli on the slices of bread, and don’t scrimp on the amount.
It’s NOT About the Bread
The bread, usually white, can be toasted or not. I think the sandwich should contain only two slices – not three. Three slices will make the sandwich too thick to eat comfortably. The main purpose of bread is to hold the wonderful goodness contained within. And its taste should never compete with the rest of the contents of the sandwich.
It IS About the Bacon
Everyone has their brand of choice. What I think is most important about the bacon is how it’s prepared.
First of all, I like to put the “bake” in bacon. I take a raised cookie sheet, layer the bottom with aluminum foil, spray with a bit of cooking spray, and then layer the bacon so that the slices aren’t touching. I bake it in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. The results are perfectly flat slices of bacon that have been rendered. I happen to prefer my bacon crisp and not so chewy – it makes for a cleaner bite.
My favorite way to cook bacon is to weave it first, and then bake it. The weave will hold the bacon in the sandwich, and it also makes for a tidier look.
The time in the oven will have to be adjusted. Instead of 30 minutes it will take about 45 minutes (or more). Closely tend it towards the end to be sure it’s done the way you like it. For directions on how to weave bacon, click on “How To Weave Bacon.”
Assembling Your Masterpiece
The order is bread, aioli, weaved bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, more weaved bacon (optional), aioli, and a slice of bread. You can trick it out with other additions, but I wouldn’t. I think it’s perfect the way it is. Carefully cut your masterpiece on the diagonal. Insert toothpicks to hold it together, and there you have it:
Sheer Perfection. A Work Of Art.
And there’s a lot of love in this sandwich.
What to Serve With Your BLT?
A few chips are all that’s needed. There are other sides (potato salad, coleslaw, etc.), but they can be distracting. You want to have your full attention on the taste of your marvelous BLT.
The Libation Of Choice?
Anything with carbonation seems to go well. As far as a wine pairing, a sparkling wine or a rose′ is what I would recommend. You can’t go wrong with either.