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The Perfect BLT

With herbed mayonnaise, perfectly crisp bacon, and bread that's only toasted on one side, a simple BLT sandwich is transformed into a delicacy.

Ingredients and techniques for the BEST BLT

Nothing says "simple summer dinner" like a good old-fashioned BLT. I've always liked BLTs, but thought of them more as an "I don't feel like cooking" sort of meal rather than an "I can't wait to eat this" sort of meal. That has all changed.

The other day, I was watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate (with Bacon)" on the Food Network, and one of the chefs was describing his favorite BLT from a cafe in Brooklyn. There were no complex techniques or unusual ingredients involved...it was just a little extra attention to detail that elevated it from a run-of-the-mill sandwich to a delicacy.

I really wanted to eat that BLT, and since I don't live anywhere near Brooklyn, I decided to make it myself. I can now say that this sandwich has gone from a B-list summer dinner to something I want to make all summer long.

The 5 ingredients of the perfect BLT:

Every BLT starts with three basic ingredients: bread, lettuce, and tomato. Sometimes people add avocado (BLAT) or a fried egg (BLET) or maybe both (BLEAT). But in this post I'm focusing on the B, L and T, and showing you how to choose and prepare these ingredients in the best way possible.

Best bread for a BLT: 

Regular sandwich bread from the grocery store bread aisle isn't going to cut it if you're making a BLT. The key is to find bread that's not too soft and not too hard, and not sliced too thick or too thin. I went through the bakery section of our grocery store store poking and squeezing loaves of bread until I found a loaf that had a lot of "squish" to it, but wasn't so soft that it would turn to mush. A good sourdough would work nicely, too.

TIP: On the Food Network, the chef toasted the two slices together (one on top of the other) in a toaster oven so that the outsides of the sandwich would get toasted, but the insides would stay soft. Since I don't have a toaster oven, I just placed the bread under the broiler in the oven for a few minutes until it was just starting to brown on top, leaving the undersides un-toasted.

Herbed mayonnaise: 

The chef used homemade mayonnaise flecked with fresh rosemary. To keep things simple, I opted to use store-bought mayonnaise (the real stuff) with some freshly chopped rosemary AND freshly chopped basil stirred in. This really added great flavor to the sandwich without overpowering the other ingredients.

Stir rosemary and basil into mayo to create a delicious herbed mayonnaise.

Perfectly crisp bacon: 

If you search "how to cook crisp bacon" you'll find a ton of conflicting advice. I followed the advice of the TV chef and baked the bacon on a lined baking sheet at 325 for about 20-25 minutes. You can also use a rack on top of the backing sheet, if you have one.

Some recommend baking at a higher temperature, but I think it's too easy to burn it that way.  Cooking bacon at a lower temperature allows time to monitor the crispness and also render off all of the fat, which makes the bacon less greasy.

If you have already perfected a technique for making super crisp bacon, by all means stick with it. Different brands of bacon and different ovens will affect the temperature and time, so just experiment until you find what gets you the best results.

Bacon on a cookie sheet ready to go into the oven.

Fresh, ripe tomatoes: 

It's pretty hard to mess up a sliced tomato, but make sure to use the ripest, reddest tomatoes you can find. Also, what made this BLT extra special was that it had layers of thinly sliced tomato instead of one thick slice, ensuring that each bite would contain some tomato-y deliciousness. To boost the flavor, sprinkle some salt and pepper onto the tomatoes after you layer them onto the sandwich.

Sliced tomatoes on a piece of toasted bread.

Butter lettuce: 

Butter lettuce has always been my lettuce of choice for the ultimate BLT. Make sure to wash and dry it thoroughly (and refrigerate it before serving) so that it stays nice and crisp.

Freshly washed butter lettuce

Proper BLT assembly: 

Spread the herbed mayo onto both non-toasted sides of the bread. Add a layer of tomatoes onto one piece of bread (sprinkling with salt & pepper), followed by the bacon and topped with the lettuce. It's up to you how much of each ingredient you want to use, but the key is to have an even ratio and pack the ingredients tightly so that the sandwich doesn't fall apart when you pick it up.

A perfectly executed BLT is basically the definition of good and simple when it comes to food. If you prep the tomatoes, lettuce and mayo ahead of time, you can have a fresh, delicious dinner on the table in minutes after a long, hot summer day.

BLT with Herbed Mayonnaise

Create the perfect BLT with crisp bacon, herbed mayo, and some simple preparation tips.
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Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 586kcal
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 8 slices sourdough bread or whole grain bakery bread
  • 8 slices ripe tomato
  • ½ cup mayonnaise your favorite brand
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil finely chopped
  • 1 head butter lettuce washed dried and refrigerated
  • 10-12 slices bacon

Instructions

  • Cook the bacon until it's very crisp, but not burnt.
  • Chop In a small bowl, stir the chopped herbs into the mayonnaise.
  • Set the oven to broil and place the slices of bread on a cookie sheet. Place the bread under the broiler and heat until it starts to get lightly brown on top. Only toast one side.
  • Let the bread cool slightly, and then build the sandwich. Spread the mayo on both pieces of bread, and make sure the toasted sides of the bread are on the outside.

Nutrition

Calories: 586kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 837mg | Potassium: 435mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1840IU | Vitamin C: 8.9mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 2.9mg
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Angela

Friday 24th of June 2016

Yummy! I will definitely try the herbed mayo!!!

Emily @ Zen & Spice

Friday 19th of June 2015

That herbed mayo just made my mouth water!! It's lunchtime!

Alyssa

Friday 19th of June 2015

The mayo really makes the sandwich!

Kari

Tuesday 16th of June 2015

I love a good BLT. I saw a recipe the other day that added avocado and was thinking of trying that. The herbed mayo sounds delicious!!

Alyssa

Tuesday 16th of June 2015

Yes, avocado is great in a BLT!!

Susan Deaven

Tuesday 16th of June 2015

Love BLTS, too. Will make the basil/rosemary mayo. And semi-cwusty bread!

Alyssa

Tuesday 16th of June 2015

The herbed mayo definitely makes it.

Linda Riley

Tuesday 16th of June 2015

Mike and I love BLT's so will try this version. Waiting for our tomatoes to ripen because using a fresh garden tomato is the greatest! Sounds really good.

Alyssa

Tuesday 16th of June 2015

I agree...the riper the tomato the better! I can't grow the big-sized ones, but thankfully our stores are finally selling really red ripe tomatoes instead of the sad pinkish ones they had all winter long.

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