Let's get one thing straight: The BLT is the ultimate summer sandwich (just ask half of the Food52 team). You have crisp vegetables; juicy tomatoes; the fatty, salty crunch of bacon; and a swipe of creamy mayonnaise -- all sandwiched between carb-y goodness.
That being said, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from refining and finessing a good thing. With that spirited quest for perfection in mind, we've rustled up five tips for taking your BLT to the next level of sandwich domination.
1. Bake your bacon. Though there are few things as heavenly as the smell of bacon frying, there are also few things as infuriating to clean up as bacon grease splatter. Baking your bacon ensures even cooking and crispy slices, without the mess. It also keeps your bacon from curling up at the edges or burning -- these imperfect slices are great for picking at, but bad for sandwiching.
2. Bake your bread, too. Freshly baked bread will make your sandwich (and really, your life) much better. Bonus points if you toast just one side of your bread slices, and make sure the toasted sides face inward. This ensures crunch while saving you from mini mouth cuts.
3. Whip up your own mayonnaise. It's easier than you think, and allows you to veer into aioli territory (just add garlic), or dial up the flavor with some pretty herbs (we love ours with basil). Make sure to spread the results copiously.
4. Let your lettuce act as a barrier. Now that you've got your fatty ingredients on lock, it's time to turn your attention to the vegetables. BLTs make great use of all that extra lettuce you're finding in your CSA box, which also conveniently keeps your bread from absorbing the juice from your summer-ripe tomatoes or the fat from your bacon. Take your bread (toasted side-up!), smear each slice with a thick layer of mayo, and then top each with a leaf or two of lettuce. Then, sandwich your tomato and bacon in between, and there you have it: nature's barrier against soggy sandwiches.
5. Add a little something of your own. A simple starting point like the BLT is just begging you to put your own twist on it. Arugula instead of romaine? Great call. Avocado slices? Duh. Have some fun with it -- after all, it's a sandwich, not a soufflé.
What are your best BLT-enhancing tricks? Let us know in the comments!
Photos by James Ransom