Love the classic combination of bacon, lettuce and tomato, but not so fond of the mayo that somehow finds its way in? Here’s how to make a killer BLT without mayo.
Driving down I-95 last weekend, with my kids in the back seat and music on the radio, I realized it had been so long since I’d last been on the highway that I couldn’t pinpoint the time. Was it two months ago? Three? I didn’t recall, and it was pretty clear that I’d stayed pretty local for too long.
How’d that happen? When did I become so complacent about our whereabouts? Why hadn’t we headed south or west or perhaps even north in so long? I always say that the best cure for feeling stuck — whether it’s in writing or work or life — is to get out and do something different. So why wasn’t I taking my own advice?
Clearly, I need to get out more — it’s important. Changes of scenery reinvigorate us, refreshing our perspective and making our world a little more colorful. As a writer, this is a key element to my ability to string words together in an effective, creative, interesting manner.
That ride south was good for me — and for all of us. It disrupted my perspective, which I needed so much. We often think of disruption as a bad thing — something that creates a roadblock in our path. But disruption can be a good thing too. It forces us out of our comfort zones, and beyond the borders of the figurative boxes we create. It opens our eyes and stops us from becoming complacent, which is an enemy to all things creative.
Speaking of disruption, it isn’t just good for perspective. It’s also good for other elements of our lives — including the food we eat. It’s okay to disrupt the way people think a certain food should be. Tuna sandwiches can be made with vinaigrette. Cereal can be eaten dry. And BLT’s? They don’t really need the mayo to be amazing.
Wait. What? No, really I mean it. BLT sandwiches — the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato — have long been a favorite of mine, but I never use mayo … instead, I make them my own way, and it’s delightful. Here’s how.
Start with Good Bread
Much like the foundation of anything — buildings, homes, relationships, careers — a killer BLT begins with a good foundation. For mine, I like a good, crusty bread with a chewy interior. It should be firm enough to stand up to the other ingredients but airy enough not to make the sandwich weighty.
The bread shown here is made by a local baker, Massimo’s Bakery. I love how crusty and flavorful their breads are. I buy loaves of this at a local grocer, Tiller & Rye, that stocks a lot of local products. You might not have a Massimo’s or Tiller & Rye near you (they are local purveyors, after all), but you hopefully do have a good local bakery that makes bread just right for your BLTs. Drop in and see, and be prepared to slice your own — it’s better that way anyway.
You’ll need a bread knife, which is serrated with a rounded end for this. Slice the pieces thing — about 1/2-inch thick works for me.
Spread it Lightly
Wait, what’s that?
Remember: we’re disrupting the norm with this sandwich. So skip the mayo, if you use it, and instead spread that bread with a thin layer of softened salted butter. The better the butter, the better the sandwich. (I still usually use Kate’s Homemade Butter.)
Butter? Yes. A thin layer of butter adds a pleasant richness to this sandwich, giving it more depth. Just try it.
Go for the Thick Cut Bacon
Regular thinner bacon is great with your morning eggs, wrapped around dates for an appetizer and crumbled on a salad. But for a BLT, reach for the thick-cut bacon. Meatier, bolder and less likely to crumble when you hold the sandwich, it’s perfect for this sandwich. And you don’t need a lot of it: I use two to three slices in my BLTs, which is just right to add the salty, smoky richness to this sandwich.
Balance is Key
So you have your bread, your butter and your bacon, what now? Well, a BLT isn’t a BLT without lettuce and tomato. A few thin slices of tomato (about 1/4-inch thick) and some crisp lettuce round out this masterpiece. Now, I know it’s tempting to go big on the bacon, but the key here is balance — you want a little of each to create a sandwich with perfect harmony.
How do you like your BLT?
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.