Ok. So maybe I’m not a professional BLT magic maker in the strictest sense of the word professional. A professional BLT magic maker is a good-hearted line cook who sneaks extra bacon into your sandwich. I’m just an enthusiast. A professional enthusiast… can we leave it at that?
Here are my Top Seven Tips to making the best BLT! You think you know… but you have no idea.
• Let’s start with bread! Bread should either be perfect, or perfectly horrible. Let me explain. The best BLTs are made on fresh bakery-baked bakery bread. The more times you mention the word ‘bakery’, the better the bread. I chose a soft loaf of bakery-baked white bread from Willa Jean Bakery in New Orleans.
If you can’t, or don’t want to, get your hands on bakery-baked bakery bread, go with grocery store sliced white bread… I’m taking like, Wonder Bread. It’s so soft and fluffy… I need a pillow made out of Wonder Bread to snack myself to sleep every night. Thanks.
Also, bonus… you can choose whatever bread makes you feel good. You’re grown.
• To toast or not to toast. TOAST! We’re not heathens (well… we are, but we’re still going to toast our bread like civilized people).
You can toast your bread in the toaster oven, to your desired shade of golden brown. (You don’t need me to tell you this.)
You can toast your bread under the oven broiler where you will forget it and find yourself with blackened bread pucks.
You can be like me and rub your sliced bread in lard and sizzle them in a cast iron skillet until mostly browned and a little burnt on both sides. I mean… I just said lard and meant it.
• Tomatoes. Let’s talk about spending $4.59 on a tomato because you can’t grown your own because you’re never home to tend to plants and you still have a home-brew komucha kit sitting on your kitchen counter, staring you in the face, asking you to take the time to make it but you won’t because, like you said, you’re never home and you can’t grow your own tomatoes even though they’d grow like hot-cakes in New Orleans but that’s just not your path right now so you have to spend $4.59 on a tomato at Whole Foods because no, they’re not on sale.
So… get a good tomato. The heirloom kind. They’re expensive unless you can grow your own (you show off).
• Lettuce. Don’t play. There is only one suitable lettuce for a proper and perfect BLT sandwich and that is Iceberg Lettuce. We need a light, crisp, consistent crunch from our lettuce. Nothing less. Nothing more. I will accept no argument to the point. Bib lettuce will do in a pinch. Spinach… if you’re nasty.
Again, don’t play.
• We’re going to talk about condiments because you want to get fancy, don’t you? Experiment with aiolis? Add mustard? This would be your greatest mistake so just stop right there. Let me save you from yourself. Mayonnaise. The End.
You don’t like mayonnaise? Yes you do.
• Ain’t no BLT without some bacon. Yes we can. Yes we will. If we’re going to bacon we are obligated to make it the real deal. Thick sliced, fatty, salty, perfect. If you’re thinking about bacon made from a turkey I’m sorry… no. I like the deliciously thick bacon portioned from the meat counter at Whole Foods. If they have the Black Forest bacon, it’s your lucky day.
I’ve had the most success baking my bacon in a 375 degree F oven for about 15 minutes, removing the bacon from the pan, and lightly dipping my bread slices in the bacon fat before toasting.
Whatever you do, cook bacon with a shirt on. Don’t come home from Pilates, take your shirt off, and cook bacon in your sports bra and think that’s a good idea because I’ll tell you what… hot bacon fat comes atcha fast. I know. I know.
• Sandwich additions. Whoa there… whoa. Slow your roll. You’re messing with perfection. Tread lightly. Ripe, sliced avocado is a suitable addition to this sandwich. Nothing else belongs. Just… why even?
How To Make The Best BLT Sandwich (condensed edition because I believe in your good sense)
Turn the oven on to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil, but actually, don’t even bother with that because bacon fat is going to get all over the pan anyway and there’s no need to waste foil.
Lay bacon in a single layer. Place in the oven, whether the oven is properly preheated or not, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the pieces towards the back of the oven are mostly brunt.
Remove from the oven and place the bacon slices on a paper towel to drain some of the fat. Eat a slice of bacon. It’ll be too hot but dammit, do it anyway.
Lament your pan covered in bacon fat. Ugh. You’re going to have to wash that later. Sorry.
Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Lightly dip both sides of your sliced bread in hot bacon fat. That sounds sexy and I’m glad it does. Place in the warm skillet, flipping once or twice to brown on each side.
Remove from the pan. Smear generously with real mayonnaise. Spread the other slice of bread with mayonnaise too. Just, really do it.
Layer warm, cooked (obviously) bacon over one slice of bread. Top with sliced tomatoes.
Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Be civilized.
Top with the exact right amount of clean Iceberg lettuce.
Other slice of bread goes on top and slice that bad boy in half.
That’s it. You’ve done it. Now what? EAT IT!