A BLT, at least in my eyes, really isn’t a bacon sandwich with lettuce and tomato, it’s a tomato sandwich with bacon and lettuce. That’s why I’ve renamed them to have the T come first, followed by the B and lastly the L. Because really, the L isn’t all that significant. Sure, it gives us crunch and contrast, but I find the bread and spread to be far more important components.
Lets start with the bread and work our way back. You want good, white sandwich bread. There’s a time and a place for wheat, and this is not it. If you have a nearby bakery that makes good sandwich loaves, lucky you! We have good bakeries here, but they specialize in more of the crusty Italian varieties, rather than a soft pullman loaf, so I opted to make my own. I used this recipe, and it was solid. Totally worth it, but squishy bagged sandwich bread will work just fine. My only hangup with it is I find it gets soggier easier. And when using the best, juiciest tomatoes, this is something to consider. Toast it enough, but not too much, so to minimize tearing up the roof of your mouth, which will inevitably happen, but such is life.
The spread. Plain mayo is traditional, and some folks wouldn’t have it any other way. But me? Personally, I get a little skeeved out by plain old mayo. Even when it’s homemade. Blame the family that raised me; it’s just engrained in my head forever. But if it gets doctored up with some garlic, herbs and lemon juice, then we have us a deal. This brings lots of flavor to the table without overshadowing anything, and thats exactly what we want.
The L. It’s lettuce, and yes, we do need it. Iceberg is awesome. Don’t knock it. I went slightly fancier and used bibb lettuce here for nice, juicy crunch. I’ve also been known to add a few handfuls of arugula to my sammie instead of the traditional crisp lettuce, and you know what? A purist will turn up their nose, but I really like the spiciness and flavor. Plus, it grows like a weed in my backyard, and I rarely feel like making a trip to the market just for lettuce, of all things.
Bacon! Go for the good stuff. Homemade bacon? Homerun. If you have it, use it – there’s really no better application. If you like it extra crispy, use the thin sliced stuff and be sure to pile it on. If you like it a little meatier, go with thick sliced. Vegan bacon? Get out here. I mean, fine, whatever. If that’s your steez, go for it. Me? If I don’t have any homemade on hand (and let’s be real, it never lasts), I head to Trader Joe’s. I’m a big fan of TJ’s bacon, especially the thick cut black forest variety. It’s a little sweet, and super awesome on a BLT. I mean TBL…
Which brings me to my numero uno component. Duhhh! Tomatoes. This is it. This is the time use up all the heirlooms from the farmers market or the garden. They’re juicy, sweet, tangy and perfectly in season at this very moment. Red tomatoes are cool, but I like my TBL’s to look like a traffic light. Get the best, brightest, most psychedelic looking tomatoes you can find. Slice ’em thick, and make sure you salt and pepper the heck out of em. But not until right before assembling, otherwise they’ll prematurely leach out their juices and make your sandwich soggy.
That’s it. That’s all I have. Go, go, go! Make a TBL. Devour. Repeat. There’s only a few weeks left to enjoy this iconic end-of-summer delicacy.
One Year Ago: Pickled Shrimp, Fried Green Tomatoes + Creole Remoulade
Two Years Ago: Where Fruit Flies Go to Die
Three Years Ago: Beet, Green Bean + Fennel Salad with Blue Cheese + Hazelnuts
- 12 strips regular bacon or 8 strips thick cut bacon
- 2 tablespoons assorted fresh herbs, minced (basil, lemon thyme, tarragon, parsley, chives, etc.)
- 1 small clove garlic, finely minced or grated on a microplane
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 4 slices good quality soft white bread
- 1 large tomato, sliced thick
- salt, for sprinkling
- 2-4 leaves Boston bibb, iceberg, romaine or little gem lettuce*
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the bacon in an even layer on a foil lined sheet pan, then bake until crisp, about 20-25 minutes.
- Combine the herbs, garlic, lemon juice, pepper and mayo in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
- When the bacon is finished cooking, transfer to paper towels to drain. Lightly brush each slice of bread on one side with some bacon fat (optional, though strongly suggested) and toast until golden.
- Slather the bacony side of each slice of toasted bread with the herb mayo, then place a piece or two of lettuce on two pieces. Top with several slices of tomato, then divide the bacon between each. Top with the other piece of bread and gently press down with the palm of your hand. Use a serrated knife to carefully slice each sandwich on a diagonal. Serve immediately.
- *You can use other types of lettuce if desired. I personally love to use arugula, but don't care much for spring mix. Use whatever you like best.