BLTs are about as American as a Hot Dog or a warm slice of Apple Pie. And a good BLT – made with smokey bacon, leafy lettuce and home-grown tomatoes – it doesn’t get much better. Did you know that BLTs are over 100 years old? Although the makings for a BLT have been around since the stone ages (or at least since the Roman era) it wasn’t until sometime around the turn of the century that someone decided to scrap the turkey in a club sandwich and there you go – a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich was born. Eventually they became known simply as a BLT.
With the drought in California, once again we scrapped the idea of planting a garden. Instead, we have settled for the bland flavor of store-bought tomatoes. That is until yesterday, when someone brought in a big box of home-grown tomatoes, ripened on the vine. The box was left in our break room, free for the taking. Hubby picked two beautiful, bright red tomatoes – so plump and aromatic – that smell that only home-grown tomatoes have these days. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I remember once upon a time when tomatoes smelled inviting, before the goodness of nature was bred out of them – don’t you? Oh for the good old days . . .
Speaking of good old days – have you noticed that what is labeled “thick sliced” bacon these days is what we use to call “bacon” – as in everyday sliced bacon. The stuff they are passing off as bacon is so thin I swear you can hold it up and look right through it. That said, for good old-fashion BLTs, thick sliced bacon is a must. BLTs are supposed to be packed with smokey, yummy bacon – something to sink your teeth into that gets your taste buds dancing and your lips smacking. For BLTs I prefer smoked bacon – hickory or apple wood are my two all-time favorites.
Hubby thinks Iceberg Lettuce is just fine for lettuce. I suppose it is – but I’m not a fan. When it comes to lettuce for sandwiches, give me green leaf lettuce any day. I love the color, the ruffled curls of the leaves – the flavor. I don’t mind Iceberg Lettuce – the exterior leaves are fine, but the more you peel back the layers, the less color there is. Get to the heart of Iceberg lettuce and it’s white. Maybe it’s me, but “white” isn’t a good color for lettuce. Green Leaf lettuce is my go-to choice for just about anything that calls for lettuce. Good in a salad (mixed with other “greens”) – great on sandwiches and perfect shredded for tacos. For the longest time, we bought “his” and “hers” heads of lettuce. Iceberg for him, green leaf for me. The problem was, not only were we spending money on two different heads of lettuce just to make a sandwich, but neither of us used up the lettuce before it began to spoil. (And in my opinion, iceberg seems to “spoil” faster). Eventually, I won out. If there’s lettuce in the house, it’s almost always of the green leaf variety.
BLTs are only as good as the ingredients used to create them. Like life, you get out of it what you are willing to put into it. Just food for thought as we savor the flavor of an American classic . . .
Old Fashion BLT Sandwiches
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
Pepper to Taste
2 lbs. Thick-Sliced Smoked Bacon
Slices of Beefsteak Tomato
Green Leaf Lettuce Leaves
Good Quality Slices Bread, toasted if desired
Whip mayonnaise, olive oil and garlic together in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Add pepper to taste. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
Slice tomatoes, set aside. Break lettuce leaves for sandwiches, rinse in cold water and set aside.
Cut bacon strips in half. Weave 6 pieces of bacon together to create a square (3 slices in one direction, 3 in opposite direction). Repeat to create one bacon weave square for each sandwich.
Cook bacon squares until crisp, about 10-15 minutes, turning and rotating often for even crispness. (If you own a bacon press, this is the perfect time to use it). Place cooked bacon on paper towel lined platter to drain.
Spread mayonnaise mixture onto half of the lightly toasted bread. Top bread with lettuce, tomato and a bacon square. Spread mayonnaise mixture on remaining bread, top sandwich and serve.
BLTs are great with chips, crisp pickle spears or deli-style salads such as macaroni or potato.