BLT: The Perfect Summer Sandwich

At the height of growing season, one meal rises above the rest.

By Diana Pittet

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Creating Your BLT
There's no need to get too fussy or creative with a BLT. By keeping it classic, you'll achieve that delectable harmony of textures and tastes. Select the best quality ingredients—with so few involved, this is very important—and keep in mind the following guidelines.

In Good Order

1. Work from the bottom up on your sandwich. Spread the mayo on both slices of the toasted bread to seal the bread and prevent tomato juice from making the slices soggy. It also makes the sandwich creamy and rich.

2. Next goes tomato, which bleeds its flavorful juices into the mayonnaise, heightening the flavor and moisture. A good in-season tomato will add the perfect amount of moisture and sweetness.

3. Then comes lettuce, a protective barrier between the juicy tomato and crisp bacon.

4. Finally, add the bacon—placed last so that it is still warm and crisp—a lovely temperature contrast with the cool tomato and lettuce.

Bread

  • Indulge in white bread as a foil for the flavorful fillings.
  • Toast the slices so that they can hold up to the juicy tomatoes.
  • Cut off the crusts, or not.
     

Bacon
Keep the bacon in a BLT. "If you take the bacon out and replace it with ham, you have a club sandwich," warns Marshall. That said, try any of the following for a variation on the typical BLT:

  • Prosciutto
  • Pancetta
  • Speck
  • Turkey bacon
  • Canadian bacon
     

Bacon tips from Zingerman's:

  • Upgrade bacon for a better BLT.
  • Buy bacon from a producer you know and trust.
  • Look for producers who have done a traditional wet cure or true dry cure and then actually physically smoked the bacon in a small batch for 24 to 72 hours. Tasting this type of bacon against commercial, presliced bacon is like night and day. You can't believe that they are the same product.
  • Be prepared to pay more upfront for high-quality bacon, but know that, after cooking, you are paying about the same as for commercial bacon. All meat decreases in weight with cooking, but to different degrees. According to a test done by La Quercia, makers of Tamworth Country Cured Bacon in Norwalk, Iowa, their bacon retains 77 percent of its original weight after cooking, while a leading premium applewood bacon shrinks to 43 percent.
  • Request that your bacon be cut to order, 2 to 3 millimeters in thickness.
  • Cook the bacon to whatever doneness you like, but it tastes better when it's a little less crispy. You should be able to bend the bacon without breaking it.
 
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