A bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich is a food that is much more than the sum of its parts. The first bite always feels a little like a magic trick, except you know how it's done, and knowing makes it even better.
Yes, bacon's presence goes a long way towards explaining this sandwich's enduring appeal, but that's not the whole story. Like so many other less-is-more classics, when it comes to the BLT the quality of each ingredient is very important. You don't necessarily need fancy bacon (although it sure wouldn't hurt) but freshly baked bread, lettuce straight from the garden and juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes are essential. Let's break it down.
First, consider the bread. Sourdough, whole wheat, or plain old fashioned white bread are all great options. Brioche can be good if you're in the mood for something rich, while a baguette is great for crust lovers. If you're feeling really fancy, try making your next BLT on a croissant. No matter what kind of bread you choose, use fresh, period. Save the day old stuff for a grilled cheese.
Next up is lettuce. This recipe calls for butter lettuce. You can buy beautiful whole heads of butter lettuce in plastic clamshells with the roots still attached. It's great stuff, staying fresh and vibrant for days, with a nice balance of crunch, tenderness and subtle bitter-sweetness that plays well against the tomato. Good substitutions are red butter lettuce, any shade of leaf lettuce and romaine. There's nothing wrong with iceberg, but since iceberg doesn't bring much more than crunch to the party, you can probably do better. If you want to jazz it up, try arugula.
Now it's time to talk tomato. Your garden is the best place to source these. There's nothing like a BLT made with tomato straight from the vine. If you're short on space, don't worry. As long as they get a lot of sun, many varieties of tomatoes grow very well in indoor containers. The next best thing is your local farmer's market. Finally, if it's the dead of winter and your only choice is the produce department of the grocery store, try substituting hothouse cherry tomatoes for larger slicing tomatoes. They tend to have the most flavor in the off season. Whatever sort of tomatoes you have, be sure to season them with salt and pepper to bring out flavor.
Finally, let's talk bacon. We've never met a bacon we didn't like, but for a BLT it's best to avoid thick-cut. You don't want to be pulling the slices out of the sandwich when you take a bite. Thin-sliced bacon fries up crispy, so it shatters nicely with each bite, and stays put in the sandwich.
- 4 slices fresh bread
- 8 slices bacon, fried crispy
- 4 large slices fresh tomato
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 large leaves green butter lettuce
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, divided
Gather the ingredients.
In a large pan over medium heat, griddle the bacon until the fat is fully rendered and the bacon is crispy but not overly browned. Remove the strips of bacon and lay them on paper towels to soak up any greasy residue.
Toast the bread in your toaster until lightly golden.
Place the toast on a work surface and spread all the slices with mayonnaise on one side. Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper, to taste. Top two slices of bread with two lettuce leaves, two seasoned tomato slices and four slices of bacon each. Close the sandwiches with the remaining slices of bread. Serve immediately.