I love a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, 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 I’ve eaten have been 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 tomato too thick, and the slices 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.
Those Wonderful Fresh Tomatoes
In our area the best tomato is 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, a tomato is the product 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 because the bacon will add plenty. Also, the thin slices seem to stay in the sandwich much better than thick slices.
The Green Crunch
There are two main choices of lettuce: iceberg or romaine. According to my palate, iceberg lettuce tastes better than romaine in 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.
Don’t Even Think Of Holding The Mayo
I’d like you to consider replacing your current favorite 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 contents inside the sandwich. 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’s most important about the bacon is how it’s prepared.
First of all, I like to put the “bake” in bacon, so I bake it in the oven. The results are perfectly flat slices of bacon that have been rendered. The degree of doneness will determine the crispness. I happen to like mine crisp and not so chewy – it makes for a cleaner bite. With a pair of tongs, remove the bacon and place on paper towels to drain.
My favorite way to cook bacon is to weave it first, and then cook it. This will hold the bacon in the sandwich, and it also makes for a tidier look.
Assembling Your Masterpiece
The order is bread, aioli, weaved bacon, tomato, 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 is 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.
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.
A BLT To Die For
1Tomato large fresh sliced
2 leavesIceberg or romaine lettuce
1 servingMayo or aioli
If you are entertaining, you can make the sandwiches and then serve them. Another way is to have the components on a platter and let each guest make their own.
If you are using aioli, make it ahead of time. For a good recipe, click on “Aioli Recipe at Epicurious.com.”
Time: 15 Minutes
Slice the chilled tomatoes into thin slices.
Cut each lettuce leaf so it is slightly larger than the shape of the bread.
Toast the bread.
Time: 60 Minutes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take a raised cookie sheet, layer the bottom with aluminum foil, spray with just 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 about 30 minutes.
But my favorite way to cook bacon is to weave it first, and then cook it. There are several videos on You Tube showing how to do this. You will probably have to increase your cooking times by 15-20 minutes to get the desired crispness.
When finished cooking, place the pieces on paper towels.
Assemble the BLT. The order is bread, aioli, weaved bacon, tomato, lettuce, more weaved bacon (optional), aioli, and a slice of bread. Carefully cut your masterpiece on the diagonal. Insert toothpicks to hold it together.
And that’s it. I tell you, folks, a sandwich just doesn’t get any better than this.