classic BLT depends upon high quality ingredients to
reach its full potential, and don't be stingy with the
seems almost a shame to be writing about BLTs in the middle
of May, months from tomato season, but it’d be more
shameful to indulge in a month dedicated to sandwiches
without including this pillar of high art. And don’t be
mistaken, a BLT with its symphony of crunchy, savory, salty
and juicy is high art.
blueprint is baked into the name, a triumvirate of bacon,
lettuce and tomato that yields an unassailable classic, if
done correctly. The key, though, is not skimping on the
quality of ingredients — a sandwich this simple is a
delicate balance, and using any ol’ bacon, lettuce or
tomato will taste of mediocrity and wasted potential.
culture these days may fool you into believing that bacon is
the star here — our country is breathless for
bacon-wrapped anything — but don’t be bamboozled.
Tomatoes, those flavor-packed ephemeral globes of sweetness
and acidity, are the true highlight of a BLT. Juicy, meaty,
piquant tomatoes are proof that God loves us. Unfortunately,
we can’t have perfect tomatoes year-round, so seek out the
best you can.
fine, I lied: Bacon is the Thelma to tomato’s Louise, or
Fred Astaire to Ginger Rogers. In tandem, bacon and tomato
dance a life-affirming pas de deux of savory/sweet,
salty/juicy, crispy/tender. To cut corners here would be to
dash all your efforts in finding the best tomato — don’t
give up now. Avoid, if possible, store-brand packs of bacon,
which often taste briny without much else going for them.
They’re fine in a pinch, but compared with less-processed
versions, are only salty, rather than a complex balance of
salty, smoky and porky.
for thick cut, dry-cured bacon — thicker bacon adds
substantial bite to this sandwich, while the dry-cure method
imparts deeper flavors compared with liquid-injected
varieties. Also consider wood-smoked bacon, which
contributes a complementary smokiness.
you like toothsome, chewy strips, or something more
shatteringly crisp is up to you. Trust your heart.
sandwiched between B and T, lettuce brings a game of its
own. Fresh romaine or iceberg varieties are clutch here,
slightly sweet in their own way but, more important, a
textural go-between for bacon and tomato. Perfectly
serviceable in leaf form, the lettuce when shredded does
double duty, offering up crunch and texture while also
creating a layer of nooks and crannies to catch errant
juices dripping from the tomato.
course, all three components need a home. A pliable bread
like Pullman’s or something equally soft-yet-structured is
a good bet. Just be sure it’s slightly toasted and
shellacked with a creamy mayonnaise. Once you’ve indulged
in the classic, go for a twist, like the lobster and
skewered versions here.
way, admire your masterpiece for but a second. Now comes the
moment, to paraphrase William Faulkner, to kill your
"Soup Nights" (Rizzoli, $35) by Betty Rosbottom.
Upgrade the humble BLT with luscious chunks of lobster. You
won’t be disappointed.
cup good-quality (not reduced-fat) mayonnaise
teaspoon grated lemon zest
teaspoons lemon juice
teaspoon chopped tarragon
slices good quality sourdough bread, lightly toasted
ounces lobster meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, see note
green onion, white and light green parts, chopped
leaves Boston or green leaf lettuce
bacon slices, fried until crisp, drained, crumbled coarsely
1 to 2
medium tomatoes, sliced
ground black pepper
a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon zest and
juice, and tarragon. Use 3 to 4 teaspoons of this mixture to
spread thinly on one side of each of the 4 toasted bread
slices. Add the lobster and green onion to the remaining
mayonnaise; mix well.
Place a lettuce leaf on each of 2 bread slices. Mound half
of the lobster salad atop each leaf; sprinkle with the
bacon. Top each sandwich with 2 to 3 tomato slices; salt and
pepper them well. Cover sandwiches with remaining bread
slices, mayo sides down. Halve sandwiches and serve.
One pound of lobster will yield 3 to 4 ounces cooked meat.
Some fish markets and grocery stores sell cooked lobster
meat. If you purchase frozen cooked lobster, defrost in the
refrigerator overnight, and pat it dry with paper towels.
BLOODY MARYS WITH BLT GARNISH
6 1/2 hours
bacon-infused vodka method here comes from the new book
"The Bloody Mary" (Ten Speed Press, $18.99) by
Brian Bartels. To garnish the drinks, we’ve added a
skewered BLT, one that subs arugula pesto for the lettuce.
For the cocktail itself, we’ve opted for a mix or your own
tablespoon black peppercorns
bottle (750 milliliters) vodka
mary mix or your favorite recipe
BLTs, see method
a skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat, about 10
minutes. Flip the bacon and cook the other side until
crispy, about 5 minutes more. Remove the bacon, and reserve
it for the drink garnish. Let the bacon fat cool in the pan
for a few minutes, then transfer it to a container.
Combine 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and the black
peppercorns in a large sealable container (or 2 canning
jars) with the vodka. Seal and refrigerate 6 hours to allow
the flavors to integrate. Transfer to the freezer; freeze,
30 to 60 minutes. The fat cap will look like hardened wax
curdling on top of the surface. Skim off the fat cap with a
big spoon and discard. Let the infused vodka come to room
temperature, then pass it through a fine-mesh strainer lined
with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Store in a sealed
container and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
Proceed with your favorite Bloody Mary recipe, using the
bacon-infused vodka as your spirit base and garnishing with
the skewered BLTs.
tiny sandwiches are spread with arugula pesto, developed in
the Tribune test kitchen by Mark Graham.
the arugula pesto, place 8 ounces pine nuts, toasted; 5
ounces arugula; 2 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan; and 1 clove
garlic in a food processor. Pulse until smooth, scraping the
sides of the bowl as needed. With the motor running, pour in
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or just enough to
achieve a thick paste. This pesto should be thicker than you
may be used to, so that it stays in place. Refrigerate until
the texture of butter, about 30 minutes.
the mini sandwiches, spread a generous amount of pesto over
one side of 4 slices of lightly toasted bread. Top 2 slices
with the reserved bacon; cover with the remaining slices,
pesto side down. Slice the sandwiches into bite-size
squares. Thread on long skewers, with a grape or cherry
tomato on top and bottom. Slide the skewers into the drinks
without dunking the sandwiches, and serve.