The perfect BLT. As simple as this sandwich seems, a proper and utterly delicious BLT is hard to find. With so few ingredients, a lot can go awry. First things first, there is no such thing as a healthy BLT. Secondly, thick slices of ripe local tomatoes, preferably the heirloom variety are required. Each juicy slice should be seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper. This summertime indulgence is a celebration of tomato season. When the weather cools and the harvest season ends, there’s no more BLTs to be had. In a sandwich where tomato is king, there is no room for extras–save the cheese, avocado, and runny egg for a burger.
I am less stringent about the lettuce, although I almost always opt for Boston. In a pinch, either Romaine or Iceberg will do. For this sandwich, I’m not keen on hard crusty bread or whole wheat. My preference is Japanese Milk Bread. Thick cut, pillowy soft yet sturdy, and faintly sweet, this white bread is the perfect vehicle. In NYC, fresh loaves are available in Asian bakeries such as Paris Baguette and Panya. When toasted (one side only!!), it yields a delicate crunch and the right amount of chew.
No BLT is complete without mayonnaise. The toasted side of each slice should be slathered with a generous amount of good-quality, store-bought mayo. Ensuring that the toasted sides face inward when constructing this sandwich is key. A great BLT has a soft bite on the outside and a crisp interior that seals in those delicious tomato juices.
Avoid the cleanup and trouble of spattering bacon grease and cook bacon in the oven at a high temperature, until it’s slightly crisp. A purest up to this point, the bacon is where I diverge from tradition. I sprinkle a touch of brown sugar over the bacon before baking. This little tweak transforms the bacon into a mouthwatering treat–salty and savory with a kiss of sweetness. Try it and you won’t regret it.
The how to…
For the brown sugar bacon
6 slices bacon
1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
4 slices Milk Bread
1 large ripe heirloom tomato, sliced
boston lettuce, washed and dried
pinch black pepper
- Bake bacon. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lay bacon on sheet pan in a single layer. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes until browned, then increase the temperature to 425. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the bacon is a deep golden brown and slightly crisp. Remove from oven, drain on paper towels and let cool.
- Toast bread, one side only! Heat a skillet (do not add oil) over medium heat. Place bread in skillet and toast until the underside is a light golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Build. Slather mayo on the toasted side of each bread slice. Cover one slice with a layer of lettuce, add 3 slices of bacon, and top with tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper. Top sandwich with remaining bread slice, mayo side down. Cut in half, serve immediately.
*Baking bacon: Exact baking time will depend on the thickness of bacon and your oven. Check periodically to monitor how quickly the bacon is cooking, being careful not to let it burn.