Historians note that the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich entered the Americom food scene at the beginning of the 20th century and grew in popularity after World War II. The BLT is a familiar sandwich. In the current fast food era, it’s easy to overlook its simple delicious elegance among so many other sandwiches, burgers, and tacos which compete for our attention and consumption. The promise of Summer tomatoes brings the BLT back into our consciousness.
The middle of spring really isn’t the best time of the year to make the perfect bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, but it is possible to find tasty tomatoes this time of year. As each day gets warmer than the next, this sandwich can only get better as plumper and riper tomatoes arrive in local markets. I want you to be ready.
To make this sandwich, start with the best tomatoes. I found some lovely Cherokee tomatoes at Fresh Market: the ugly, misshapen, purple kind that taste so delicious. These Cherokee tomatoes may come from a hot-house producer, but they taste better than common red ripe tomatoes.
You also have to look for good quality bacon. Don’t buy the thin-sliced store brand. Splurge for the thick-sliced smoked bacon. Thick sliced bacon covered in black pepper is also a tasty alternative.
Spring lettuce leaves are in season and can be easily found at your local supermarket or farmer’s market. I found a colorful mix of spring greens at the Cooper Young Farmer’s Market. Iceberg lettuce is for amateurs and should have no part to play in your BLT.
If you don’t have time to make your own aioli, buy a jar of Duke’s mayonnaise. Duke’s is the only worthy store mayonnaise on the shelf, particularly if you live in the South. If you use Miracle Whip, I don’t want anything to do with you. Seek professional help.
If you’re not a stranger to this blog, you know that I recently embraced sourdough bread baking. I am currently making sourdough bread with predominately white flour and some whole wheat flour to provide flavor and texture. If you don’t make your own bread, buy a soft loaf from a local bakery. If your bread already comes sliced in a bag, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Now that you have all your ingredients, assemble your sandwich. Lightly toast your bread. Spread mayonnaise or home-made aioli on each slice. On one slice add your pan-fried bacon (the crispier the better). On the other slice, add a few layers of spring greens. Place tomato slices on your greens. The next step is critical. To fully bring out the flavor of your tomatoes, pour some Kosher salt into the palm of one hand. DO NOT USE TABLE SALT. It’s not the same. The bigger, flakier Kosher salt structure will release the robust flavor of your tomato in a way that table salt cannot. Evenly sprinkle the Kosher salt over the tomatoes between your thumb and index finger with your free hand. Add some freshly cracked pepper, close and slice your sandwich in half, and prepare to lose yourself in the best BLT you’ve ever tasted.