September 09, 2005


by psu

The signs of late summer and early fall are everywhere. The weather is cooling off, if only marginally. The CMU and Pitt students are back in Oakland, turning the empty campuses into a sea of book bags, flip flops, t-shirts, shorts and sweat pants. And, in the food bin, the tomatoes are overflowing. Late summer always means tomatoes, and what better dish to make with a tomato than the BLT.

The key to the great BLT is in following four rules:

1. Crunchy thick bacon.

2. Good acidic tomatoes.

3. Decent bread.

4. The lettuce doesn't really matter.

I like to buy thick sliced Virginia bacon at the Giant Eagle and microwave it on a plate a few slices at a time. If you nuke it 4 to 5 minutes and then let it rest it gets just about the right texture.

Then, toast the bread, lay the bacon down, then the lettuce and one or two slices of tomato. I like mayonnaise on a BLT. Others disagree about this. I don't think there is a hard and fast rule.

Cut the sandwich in half and serve with fresh corn on the cob. There is no better meal for late summer than a BLT and corn.

Posted by psu at September 9, 2005 09:01 PM | Bookmark This

I dispute the notion that the lettuce does not really matter. Soggy lettuce can kill a good BLT, while overly crunch lettuce can make it rather awkward to eat and take away from the bacon. Other than that I generally agree.

As an aside, I generally order a BLT when I'm at a new restaurant whose menu I don't entirely know. It's simple to make, and any restaurant which can screw up a BLT has no business being in the restaurant business. Very few screw it up, but that leaves a lot of room for improvement.

From this habit I've found two BLT's worth note. The first was Old Glory, in Washington DC, whose method of making a BLT is to wave some bread, lettuce, and tomato at a giant pile of bacon until the bacon understands it must behave. This is nothing like the traditional BLT, but usually quite good.

The second is the deli down the street from the Holiday Inn on Greenfield Rd., in Lancaster, PA. This BLT was a transcendent experience, the best BLT I've had anywhere. I couldn't tell you what, if anything, was different from the "standard" BLT recipe, but it was apparently created by a crack team of ninjas. I went back a couple days later and had another one, and that one was just as good.

Posted by Faisal N. Jawdat at September 10, 2005 02:55 AM

Microwave the bacon?!

The bread should be something fairly neutral, but crunchy after toasting. No heavy wet multigrains. Breadwords Tuscan or rustic sourdough.

Thin sliced bacon. More crunchable. Preferable something that has not been cured to death.

Salt and fresh ground multi-pepper (black, green, and pink [which really is not pepper, and was temporarily banned]) on the tomato.

I also prefer eating it open faced, which is really just an excuse for twice as much tomoato and bacon for the same amount of bread.

Of course, there is also Cobb Salad, a BLT in a bowl to which I add smoked chicken, and hard boiled eggs to.

Posted by Amos the Poker Cat at September 12, 2005 02:28 AM

I'm a fan of the BLOT (BLT with onion.) I think a BLT needs a simpler type of bread than suggested in the comments above... a simple Italian loaf does nicely.

I had a good BLT at some dump near Robinson Towne Center... I used to work out that way, and on a certain strech of road I would consistantly smell bacon. I eventually tracked down the source, and that's how I found The Del Kid? (now out of business.) Their recipe was simple... tons and tons of bacon.

Posted by Mark Denovich at September 12, 2005 10:23 AM

My favorite BLT bread is simple Italian or French bread in slices not too thick.

But, strangely, pumpernickel works well too.

Posted by psu at September 12, 2005 01:45 PM

I love the BLT, and I too get it a new restaurant. Or a turkey club.

There is a strange variation on the BLT, good in winter, that I love too. Microwaved (and this is one of the few times I used the appliance) salami, with cream cheese and fresh spinach on almost burned toast. Pumpernickel is best, but wheat breads work too.

Posted by zp at September 13, 2005 12:29 PM

Pumpernickel. Ya, now that I think about it, but only if it has caraway seeds. That works with the tomato.

Posted by Amos the Poker Cat at September 13, 2005 10:54 PM

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