The Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwich, commonly referred to as the BLT, is a classic sandwich that can be found almost everywhere. People have been enjoying this classic sandwich for years, but it has not always been known as a BLT.
Bacon sandwich recipes began to appear in cook books during the early 1900’s. The term BLT doesn’t appear in print until around 1941. Diners were popular then and the term BLT is believed to be verbal short-hand used by the restaurant workers.
In honor of April being National BLT Month, here’s a BLT component guide to get you started. Its secret is that perfect balance of the salty bacon, crisp lettuce, and fresh tomato, but ratios vary.
The B comes first for a reason. Always opt for high-quality, thick-cut bacon when making BLTs. Bacon is the backbone of the sandwich, which brings texture, salt, and a hint of sweetness to the equation. If you’re thinking about bacon made from a turkey, I’m sorry… NO! Without bacon, you would just have salad on toast. The key is to get it crisp enough that you don’t come away from your sandwich with a strip dangling from your mouth and not so crisp it becomes a crumbly mess when you put it in a sandwich.
Tip: roast the bacon in the oven. Here’s how to do it: preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a rack in the pan to allow hot air to circulate for even cooking. Arrange strips on the rack and roast, rotating the pan once halfway through cooking, until browned and crispy, about 15 minutes.
Next up: the L. Lettuce is more of an obligation for a BLT – it’s built into the name. When it comes to lettuce, the goal is to provide crunch and flavor that can stand up to the rest of the mix. Spinach, spring mix, arugula, and all other soft lettuces are out since they don’t provide crunch. Consider some of your best options for greenery: iceberg is a favorite, but brings more texture than flavor. Try crisp, fresh romaine hearts. Butterhead lettuce, also known as Boston or Bibb, lays flat, tastes good, and works well.
Tip: Revive wilted greens by soaking them in ice-cold water.
It may have last place in the letter chain, but the “T” is probably the most important component of the perfect BLT.
You need a really good tomato that’s not mealy and has a good tomato flavor. Find a fresh beefsteak tomato, which has more flesh and fewer seeds. Pick heavy tomatoes that are about 3 inches in width. When buying, look for intense color and give when pressed. Avoid tomatoes with cracks or soft spots. The ultimate tomato for BLT’s is home grown.
Here are more tips to make the most of a good tomato: always slice your tomato with a serrated knife into ¼ inch thick slices. The jagged edge allows you to cut through the firm skin without damaging the flesh and losing all the precious juice. Salt the tomatoes before assembling your sandwich. Salt brings out the tomato’s natural sweetness. Also, sprinkle with freshly-cracked black pepper. Layer the tomatoes in between the bacon and lettuce – this will keep the tomato juices from compromising the bread.
Texture is key for the bread. White bread is a classic pick, but whole wheat, sourdough, or a country bread work fine, so long as it can be lightly toasted and doesn’t overpower the three main players. I recommend toasting the bread slightly to bring both a golden crustiness and a soft interior to the sandwich foundation. I also like to slice the sandwich on a diagonal for ease of handling and maneuverability.
Tip: avoid over toasting! Some people lightly dip both sides of the sliced bread in hot bacon fat and brown in a skillet on both sides.
Mayo, oddly, may be the most controversial ingredient. Modern BLT lovers can do no wrong with good store-bought mayonnaise, specifically Hellman’s or Best Foods. However, some BLT lovers insist the best mayo is homemade. An opposing opinion, holds that a BLT requires Miracle Whip. Miracle Whip has one big drawback: it’s slightly sweet, thanks to the addition of both sugar and corn syrup. Above all, slather on the mayo liberally. The mayo is to be spread on both the top and bottom slices of bread.
Don’t get fancy with condiments. Flavored mayo, aioli, and mustard are unnecessary and an insult to the BLT. Do not make this mistake! Now let’s discuss sandwich additions. Whoa… stop! You’re messing with perfection. If really necessary, a ripe, sliced avocado is a suitable addition to this sandwich. Nothing else belongs on it.
When made correctly, the BLT is a perfect trifecta of deliciousness: thick bacon, acidic tomatoes, and crisp lettuce. The best part? Nothing could be easier. It’s a three-ingredient sandwich – simplicity has its virtues. Now what? Slice your sandwich in two, and enjoy!
NOTE: Trade or brand names used in this publication are used only for the purpose of educational information. The information given herein with the understanding that no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement information of products by the University of Wyoming Extension is implied. Nor does it imply approval of products to the exclusion of others, which may also be suitable.
- 5 Ways You’re (Maybe, Probably) Messing Up the BLT at http://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/how-to-make-a-perfect-blt-sandwich-article
- Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato: A Quest for the Ultimate BLT at http://blog.grubhub.com/grublife/bacon-lettuce-tomato-a-quest-for-the-ultimate-blt/