The Ultimate BLT Sandwich
The platonic ideal of this inimitable sandwich.Print
My husband asked me why I thought this was a recipe people needed. “Isn’t this self-explanatory?” Sure, on the face of it, yes. But it’s a run-of-the-mill BLT; that’s self-explanatory—The Ultimate BLT needs a bit of discussion. Thick-cut bacon vs. regular, mayonnaise used, not only in the sandwich but also in the griddling of the bread; nestling the tomato directly against the bread; plus adding a number of optional ingredients means that you will have a BLT worth the discourse. Even after this recipe is sent out into the world wide web I will work on it forevermore, such is my dedication to all of you, my commitment to the platonic ideal of this sandwich. No, no—no need to thank me. It’s part of the job.
- 6 pieces thick-cut bacon
- 8 slices good bread, such as a Pullman loaf
- About 4 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 large perfectly ripe tomato, cut into 4 generous slices, or 2 plum tomatoes, cut into 4 lengthwise slices each
- Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Romaine or iceberg lettuce, about 8 sandwich-size pieces
1. You can either bake your bacon (add 4 to 6 extra minutes to the cooking time), or you can heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon for about 6 to 8 minutes, turning it every few minutes until it is nicely crisp, but still pliable. Remove the bacon to paper towels to drain, then cut each slice in half crosswise.
2. Spread about 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise on 1 side of each piece of bread. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. In the skillet, place as many slices of bread that will fit, mayo side down, and griddle them up until the mayo side of the bread is nicely browned, about 1 minute. Remove the bread from the skillet, let rest browned side up, and griddle up any remaining slices.
3. Place 4 of the slices of toast browned side down on a cutting board. Place a tomato on each piece, season lightly with salt and pepper, place 3 half slices of bacon on each slice of tomato, and top with a couple of pieces of lettuce. Generously spread the rest of the mayo on the non-browned side of the remaining slices of bread, and top the sandwiches with them browned side up. You now have a perfect BLT. Read on for some more ideas.
What the Kids Can Do
They can smear the bread with the mayonnaise, slice the tomato with an age-appropriate knife, season with salt, layer up the sandwich, and choose any add-ins.
You can make the bacon a few hours ahead of time, but it’s best not to refrigerate it before using it in the sandwich.
Fork in the Road
Purists, look away. You don’t need to be here.
- Swap out the plain lettuce for arugula or watercress
- Swap out the bacon for pancetta
- Add grilled or caramelized onions, or a thin slice of raw onion
- Add a fried egg
- Add a slice of avocado or smash up some avocado with lime juice and maybe some minced scallion or minced cilantro
- Mix the mayo with some smoked paprika (pimenton), pureed chipotle in adobo sauce, harissa, minced fresh basil, cilantro, or another fresh herb or your choice
- Add a sautéed thin chicken cutlet, or a piece of broiled or grilled salmon fillet
- When you’re browning the bread, you could add a slice or a smear of cheese on 4 of the slices (on the non-browning side), such as cheddar, Monterey jack, brie, or goat cheese. Cover the pan for 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese melts slightly, and then assemble the BLTs (lightly mayo the non-browned side of the remaining 4 slices of bread).