I’m actually not a fan of tomatoes on a sandwich or a burger. They get soggy and tend to dampen the entire operation. But the BLT needs moisture and freshness, both provided by a couple of slices of tomato. If you want the best tomatoes possible, thereby guaranteeing the best BLT possible, make your BLT during the summer when tomatoes are in season. The heirloom varieties at the farmers market are worthy of making the BLT an everyday indulgence during the months of June or July. But any firm tomato variety from the grocery store will do, during the summer months or otherwise. I slice mine to about a half-inch thickness and I salt them as well.
I like to use romaine, butter lettuce or any leafy green as the lettuce portion of the equation. And I like to only use the leafy bits. I appreciate the cool freshness of the lettuce, but with the crispy bacon, there’s no need for any added crunch. Whatever lettuce you choose, just make sure it’s dry. I go as far as using a salad spinner.
Mayonnaise is essential to the BLT, and lots of it. I slather on a hefty amount on both slices of bread. I use enough so that the mayonnaise is visible as an actual layer of the sandwich; so much so that when I give my sandwich a squeeze, globs of mayo threaten to escape from all sides. If you don’t get mayonnaise on your fingers after that first bite, you did it wrong. This is your sandwich lubrication and it’s what ties the bacon, lettuce and tomato together.
I use whatever mayonnaise I have in the fridge. And if you’re someone who makes your own aioli, hat tip to you. That tang will ensure that your BLT is going to be just a smidge better than mine. This is the only part of the sandwich I will continue to experiment with. While mayonnaise of any kind is a must, I’ve found that mayo spiked with freshly-chopped basil, tarragon or thyme can really elevate the sandwich.
Even though I heavily favor untoasted bread, you can still have a good BLT on lightly (seriously don’t go past the first setting on the toaster) toasted, liberally-buttered bread. Too crisp and you’ll go from crunchy bread into crispy bacon and endanger the roof of your mouth. As far as the type of bread, I prefer a rustic or country white. It’s sturdy enough to handle the contents of the sandwich and won’t overpower any of the other flavors.
Assembling the sandwich is nothing short of a feat of engineering. Jordan suggests bread, mayo, tomato, bacon, lettuce, mayo, bread. I know she wrote an entire book on the BLT, but I’m going to have to disagree. My strategy is to encase all possible mush: bread, mayo, lettuce, tomato, bacon, mayo, bread. Trap that tomato and any moisture in the middle and your sandwich won’t fall apart. And one last thing. While you can respectably cut a PB&J diagonally, cut your BLT down the middle. If you want the proper distribution of ingredients in every bite, the right path is straight down the center.
I often eat my sandwich at my breakfast nook, barefoot, and attempt to savor it slowly. I’m usually wiping the last bits of mayonnaise from the corners of my mouth by the time “Silver Springs” starts to fade