April is National BLT month and a perfect segue to early-May’s Bacon and Beer Classic at Safeco Field. In readying my palate for a day filled with bacon, I’ll begin my month with a recipe for one of my all-time favorite (and suitably classic) sandwiches: The BLT.
Admittedly I’m a picky girl – particularly when it comes to sandwiches. So here’s the thing: Why’s it so difficult for restaurants to make these sandwiches the right way? You know – the way where the innards stretch to the edges of their bready, toasty worlds so that each bite is as consistently delicious as the next? Herein lies the secret to BLT success. That and something my dad shared with me just a few years ago: Adding no less than six heavenly slices of bacony-goodness not only makes these porky strips the star of this show, but it’ll immediately quell any crazy ideas that there’s a more important part to this beloved sandwich. And don’t let your cardiologist fool you – if cooked properly, you should be rendering the majority of fat right out of the bacon (i.e. don’t let the idea of six slices scare you off).
Here’s the way I do it:
Start with a solid bread. The jury’s out between sourdough, wheat and white, but whatever you use, make sure it’s fresh and perfectly-toasted. Don’t make the mistake I’ve seen time again where the toast’s made at the beginning of the process (and therefore cold when served). Wait until the last moments of the process to pop that bread into the toaster so that the bread-slatherings smother the piping-hot toast just before assembly.
Don’t settle for crappy bacon (unless you have to). I’m a huge fan of B&E Meats‘ peppered, apple-smoked bacon (or you could venture into to BB Ranch‘s butchery in Pike Place), but I’ll guarantee your local butcher has something equally mind-blowing. Look for not-too-much-fat/not-too-much-meat. You really don’t want it shriveling down to just a crunchy pile of bacon fat, do you? Cook it to perfection – which to me involves a just-before-crispy state where it’ll easily succumb to your bite, but won’t shatter into pieces. Above all, it must be cooked beyond its limp, transluscent state.
Find the best tomatoes available. If it’s summer, buy flavorful heirloom varieties from your local farmer’s market. If you’ve got ’em growing in your garden? Even better! Most store-bought tomatoes are nothing but a disappointment. They have all the showy color, but lack the true marriage of sweetness and acidity that should give it runner-up status as the star of the sandwich (if not for the tasty bacon).
Make sure your lettuce is crispy. Although I’m a Romaine fan when it comes to salads, it just doesn’t have the crunch necessary to stand up to the rest of the BLT’s ingredients. Lettuce is an important component to the BLT (not just in name) as it’s also used in the construction process to assure that the tomato’s juices don’t seep into the toast. Butter lettuce has a solid build, as does nutritionally-challenged iceberg – and boy, does it pack a crunch!
Not just mayo. Mayo’s important, but moreso when doctored with a teaspoon of harissa and a pinch of garlic. You’re an overachiever, you say? Homemade mayo’s sure to elevate the experience.
Put an avocado on it. Although not traditional, avocado is one add-on that should be considered (but only if you’re absolutely positive that it’s fresh and ripe). The creamy texture perfectly offsets the acidic tomato and salty/crisp bacon.
The process. Do not overlook the intricate process of sandwich prep and building (as mentioned above).
- Begin by frying the bacon then multi-task in slicing your juicy tomatoes and washing/drying/tearing the lettuce into perfectly-sized pieces.
- Once everything’s ready, it’s then time to toast your bread to a golden perfection. And when that’s complete? Remember: The trick is ensuring that every bite is equally delicious – which means that every bite must have the same bacon/lettuce/tomato/(avocado)/mayo/butter proportion. This can only be achieved through careful, methodical assembly.
- Slather one slice of toast with a liberal coating of your mayo mix – all the way to the edges- and dust with fresh-ground pepper. The opposing side’ll welcome a coating of butter (don’t even ask me about margarine).
- In my years of BLT-building, I’ve found that laying all six strips of bacon to completely cover the mayo-laden toast side is the best for foundation-building. The mayo, obviously, holds the bacon in place like a creamy, delicious glue.
- Add 3-4 thick slices of tomato (to the edges, of course) and top with no less than two crispy lettuce leaves.
- The avocado’s a wildcard – it’ll be slippery, so you’ll have to master keeping it in control as you’re devouring every delicious bite.
Still not sure how? Here’s a quick Vine to put the pieces together: Click here for the video
Enjoy your BLT – and I’ll see you at the B&B Classic!