Tomatoes are at their peak right now. Visit any farmer’s market or grocery store and they are red, ripe, and ready to be rightfully enjoyed. As compared to what was available just a few months ago - they actually taste like tomatoes!
Over the past few decades, tomatoes (as well as a great deal of our mass produced produce) have been bred to sustain storage and travel, and in the process have suffered a shocking lack of flavor. So seek out the good ones now!
Although sequentially, the T in BLT is last, and tomatoes are the most important part of the construction process. One can use any variety of the fruit (yes, tomatoes are scientifically a fruit), but I like a good ol’ New Jersey Beefsteak, which are gorgeous right now! They are large and tasty, and I love the fact that one thick slice is often perfectly proportioned for one sandwich.
At the beginning of a BLT, and probably the first item of preparation in advance of the sandwich building, is the bacon. One can use any type of bacon one wishes, of course. (If one is pork averse, there are plenty of options out there to consider.) I like the regular ol’ supermarket, regular sliced, with no added flavorings. By turning the package over, one can somewhat estimate the flesh to fat ratio - try to get more flesh than fat! TIP: By cooking the bacon in the oven, on a rack over a sheet pan, the end product is crisper, cleaner, and can be prepared in an abundance.
The B and T play bookends to the L, the lettuce! I enjoy peppery chicory, bitter arugula, and butter soft boston varieties, but I now take a purist’s stance - it just must simply be Iceberg! Iceberg is refreshingly cool and crisp, but not crisp like the bacon, but crisp in flavor. It cuts away the richness of the bacon and the supports the ripe juiciness of the tomato.
Unrewarded by having a position in the moniker, but playing a vastly important role is the bread. Once again, I must remain a purist and state that a nice white flour sandwich bread is my preference. Call me old fashioned - even nostalgic - if you will, I like the toasted texture of it. Of course one can use whole wheat, or anything else that suits one’s fancy, but Pepperidge Farm is just fine with me, thank you very much.
The last ingredient is mayonnaise, and it must be good, real mayonnaise In my opinion. Duke’s fits the bill just fine. It is not overtly sweet, and has a bit of a tang, and it slathers well too!
If one does not know how to build a BLT, here is what you need to know for one sandwich:
2 slices of bread, toasted
3-4 slices of bacon, cooked until crips
1 slice of beefsteak tomato, or the equivalent of some inferior type
1 “healthy” slather of mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
Take 1 slice of toast
Spread with mayonnaise
Put tomato on top
Sprinkle with salt and pepper
Lay the strips of bacon on top of the tomato
Place lettuce on top of this
Take remaining slice of toast
Spread with mayonnaise
Place toast, mayonnaise side down, on top of lettuce
Slice on the diagonal... and enjoy!