Ultimate BLT

And so we begin with the first letter in our sandwich: B. Earlier in the summer, while dreaming that the tomato plants in my garden would one day grow to be vibrant and fecund with fruit (I’m still waiting), and mentioning craving a BLT to my friend Kate, she forever changed the course of my summer with mention of The Bacon Weave. Remember those potholders we made on the little looms as kids? Or, for those a little more kitchen elevated, pastry lattice a top pies? Those things, but with bacon. The reasons for this on a BLT are three-fold:

  1. No bite is without bacon.

  2. Bacon does not shoot out from the back of the sandwich when you take a bite.

  3. Bacon weave helps keep all of that mayonaissey, salty, tomato juiciness inside the sandwich, and hence your mouth, as opposed to splattered gruesomely onto your plate/lap/wrist/arm/sink/floor.

Yes, the type of bacon matters, but I believe that’s a personal choice. Some people like peppery bacon, or applewood smoked bacon, or thick-cut, or whatever. Regardless of your bacon choice, a proper weave to fit the standard sandwich bread is three slices of bacon, cut in half, and baked at 425 degrees for about fifteen minutes depending on if you’re a crispy bacon lover or a chewy bacon lover (I like a little chewiness).

Now, onto the L. I believe that a BLT, like most food, is greatly about texture. Though I grow about a half a dozen frou-frou lettuce varieties in my garden, I believe that a crunchy lettuce is integral to the proper BLT. That means iceberg or romaine hearts. Boom.

The T. While all elements of the BLT are essential (or it wouldn’t be called a BLT), the tomato, in my humble opinion, is paramount. I may be biased as I consider the tomato to be my spirit animal (the oyster is a close second). You’ll need a fairly large and superbly ripe specimen. I prefer red, just because of the arresting color it adds to the sandwich. Two generous slices from the center part of the tomato, add a tiny pinch of salt.

As far as the bread goes, I rather like a lightly toasted sourdough or potato bread. Something generally straightforward, not too fancy, intense, grainy, or anything extra artisinally and crusty that could destroy the roof of your mouth. After all, this sandwich has a lot of crunch as it is with the bacon and lettuce.

With regard to mayonnaise, I use Duke’s and only Duke’s, and I smear it on the inside of both pieces of bread with a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper (if not using peppery bacon).

Now that we have our elements, let’s discuss the order of things. I’ve tried it however many ways one can (math is hard), and the most successful approach is easy; stick to the order of the letters. Bacon, then, lettuce, then tomato. The reason, in my opinion, is back to texture. One side of the sandwich gives way to the cool, soft and sweet tomato and the other registers crunchy, salty, porky umami. Each side complimented by the creamy swoosh of mayo with that crisp sheath of lettuce in the middle hydrating each bite.

Every color, texture, and flavor are represented. And, if you’re a tomato geek like me, from mid-July to mid-September is the quintessential time to really get the most out of this classic sandwich.