Recipes are rarely “invented” but rather evolve. In the case of the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches aka BLT, culinary evidence suggests that the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich descended from Victorian-era Tea sandwiches. These sandwiches grew in popularity in diners across the country at the end of World War II. Although appearing on menus in their full name, and ordered according, it is actually the short-hand of waiters and waitresses that gave us BLTs and Mayo.
While BLT sandwiches are great for lunch, they can also make a yummy, filling dinner sandwich – especially the Double Decker variety. Imagine your typical turkey or chicken club sandwich, minus the poultry while doubling up on all that yummy bacon goodness.
First of all, let’s start with the bread. Whenever making a BLT, I like using Oroweat Italian Bread. There’s just something about this particular brand of sandwich bread that works well with BLTs. The flavor of the bread is nice, the texture good and the bread stands up well without mushing or falling apart. If toasting, it toasts very nicely, all golden and beautiful.
Next, the tomato. Bright red, ripe yet firm. I love beefsteak tomatoes when I can get them at the farmer’s market. Splurge a little, and go for the beautiful organic variety. After all, the tomato is the T – an important element in a BLT. One of the most beautiful of the beefsteak variety are the Watermelon Beefsteak. Now that is what a tomato of this size should look like – all bright and beautiful. These bad boys can weigh as much as a couple of pounds per tomato. While rare, if ever in the grocery store; sometimes the Watermelon variety can be found in a farmer’s market. Heirloom tomatoes are also good, packed with that old-time real tomato flavor.
Lettuce, lettuce – I love lettuce. In our house, we often keep two heads of lettuce in the crisper – sort of a his and hers if you will. For me, green leaf or red leaf lettuce is a must. I like the “leafy-ness” (if that’s even a word) of leaf lettuce. For Hubby, Iceberg lettuce is his go-to for salads, sandwiches and what have you. He likes the crunch of iceberg on his sandwiches. While the Iceberg lettuce shreds up nicely for tacos, personally I think Iceberg lettuce lacks color, flavor and general “curb appeal”. Hubby has gotten much better, allowing Leaf Lettuce as the L in our BLT.
Finally, the bacon. After all, you can’t make a BLT without the B – it’s the heart and soul of your sandwich. For us, nothing beats smoke-cured bacon – hickory or apple wood are at the top of the list. Bacon must have a nice blend of fat to meat. Too much fat and it will shrivel up in the pan – all the makings of bacon drippings but not much left for eating. Since we are going to weave the bacon, it shouldn’t be extra-thick. A thick slice will do. (Gosh, I can remember the day when what we call today “thick” was a regular slice of bacon. That paper-thin stuff sold as sliced bacon was unheard of). For BLTs, I prefer the salty flavor of cured bacon. The most common bacon sold in the United States comes from the belly cuts.
Oh, I almost forgot – the mayo! Confession time – when it comes to mayo, I am very much brand-loyal. Hellmann’s for those east of the Rockies; Best Foods in my neck of the woods. Richard Hellmann, an immigrant from Germany, married the daughter of delicatessen owners. Together, they opened their own delicatessen in 1905, where Richard perfected his “real mayonnaise” for his customers. His mayonnaise became so popular that he began selling it to other New York delis, and the rest as they say is history.
Put it all together and you’ve got yourself one awesome sandwich. If the recipe seems familiar, it’s the same used for my Ol’ Fashion BLT – Comfort Food between Two Slices of Bread, only this time around we’re stacking it Double-Decker style.
Double Decker BLT Weaves with Garlic Mayonnaise on Italia Bread
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
Pepper to Taste
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.
2 lbs. Bacon, Hickory Smoked or Applewood Smoked bacon – 8 slices per sandwich
8 Slices of Tomato
8 Lettuce Leaves
8 Slices Provolone Cheese (Optional)
16 Slices Italian Bread, toasted if desired
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 a total of 8 squares (Two squares per sandwich).
Heat a griddle to about medium heat (around 325 degrees) Cook bacon squares until crisp, about 10-15 minutes, turning and rotating often for even crispness. Place on paper towel lined platter to drain. (If necessary, cook in batches).
Spread mayonnaise mixture on 4 slices of bread. Place 1 lettuce leave on bread. Place 1 bacon square on top of lettuce. Place 1 slice of tomato on top of bacon square. (One slice of Provolone if using).
Spread mayonnaise mixture on 4 more slices of bread. Place bread, mayonnaise side down, over tomato slice. Spread mayonnaise mixture on top of bread (center bread will have mayonnaise mixture on both sides). Place 1 lettuce leaf on top of bread slice. Place second bacon square on top of lettuce. Place tomato on top of bacon square. (Again, Provolone if using).
Spread remaining 4 slices of bread with mayonnaise mixture. Place on top, mayonnaise side down. Slice in half diagonally or into triangles, secure with cocktail pick.
Serve with fries and a nice, crisp pickle spear on the side.