You Down With BLT?
For such a simple dish, it is amazing how personal a BLT can be. It seems like everyone has their own special version of this summer staple. For me, it is about using good quality ingredients. The dry-cured bacon should be thick-cut and complex in flavor; the tomatoes need to be perfectly ripe and sliced super thick (almost like a burger); and the lettuce should be fresh and crisp.
To toast, or not to toast — that is the question: I like to serve my BLT on a good crusty French bread that’s been brushed with bacon fat and grilled in a cast-iron pan. However, some people prefer their bread un-toasted and that is perfectly fine too. Whether it is wheat or white, toasted or untoasted, it is completely up to you…there is no right or wrong.
There are many variations of this classic sandwich. Feel free to experiment to find your favorite.
- Avocado – My wife loves avocado on her BLT’s. (I like this California version too, but I think the avocado takes away from the tomato, the highlight of the sandwich).
- Homemade Aioli – Instead of using mayonnaise, Mr. Matt, our Chef/Gardener, likes to make aioli using some of the bacon fat for his BLT’s.
- Cheese – Try a slice of Monterey Jack or blue cheese for a little creaminess.
- Fried Egg – The addition of a fried egg takes the classic BLT to the next level.
Below is the recipe for my favorite BLT. I hope you enjoy it.
Serve with Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir
Makes 2 sandwiches
- 8 slices good quality bacon, thick-cut
- 4 slices good crusty French bread
- 4 Tbsp. homemade or good store-bought mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s / Best Foods)
- 2 cups arugula leaves, rinsed & patted dry
- 1 medium or 2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced thick (my favorite is Cherokee Purple)
- Good quality sea salt, such as sel gris or Maldon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and fry until browned and done. I like my bacon on the chewy side, not crisp. Remove bacon from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. Pour bacon fat into a small bowl and, carefully, wipe the bottom of the pan with a paper towel.
- Lightly brush both sides of the bread with bacon fat and place bread into the cast-iron pan. Toast on both sides until golden brown. Spread an even layer of mayonnaise on each slice of toast. Place arugula on two slices of the toast. Top with bacon, then tomatoes. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top the sandwiches with the remaining slices of toast.