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What's the Best BLT, Really?

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This may not be the best BLT you will ever eat. How could it be, when everyone has strong feelings about their way—obviously the right way—of making one?

In honor of Tomato Week, we'll endeavor to solicit all of those "right" ways: We've asked friends and food bloggers to submit their best BLTs on social this week for our unofficially-dubbed "BLT-Off"—and we ask you to do the same, in the comments! The winner will be chosen on Facebook Live this Friday at 4:30 P.M. It will be an impossible judgment.

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But we had to throw our hat in the ring, too. Here's our entry:

The go-to.
The go-to. Photo by Linda Xiao

From the bottom up: bread, mayo, tomato, bacon, lettuce, pickled peppers, mayo, bread. But not just any bread, mayo, lettuce, tomato. Here's our starting line-up:

The Bread: Pain de campagne, 1/2-inch-thick slices, toasted on one side.
Chewy and faintly wheaty, it's the middle ground between sourdough and wheat, with a thin crust circumference. Slices should be thick, to sop up all the juices, but only toasted on one side (use a baking sheet, in the oven). Amanda learned this trick at ‘wichcraft. You’ve had a BLT where the toasted bread hurts your teeth and shatters down to your plate: Leaving the outsides untoasted maintains softness (no shattering crumbs) while the crisp inside fights sogging.

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The Mayo: Brown butter mayonnaise, on both slices of bread.
In a BLT, mayonnaise delivers lusciousness; but when the oil is replaced with brown butter, the mayonnaise becomes a nutty-sweet ungirding for the key BLT flavors. Making your own mayonnaise and browning butter is more time intensive, but know that this fuss isn't just for kicks.

Brown Butter Mayonnaise

Brown Butter Mayonnaise by EmilyC

A Love Letter to the BLT

A Love Letter to the BLT by Amanda Hesser

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The Tomato! Thick Jersey Beefsteaks slices, drained of goop.
The best layer of this BLT is right here, where the tomato hits the mayo. This—this—is why the tomato goes below the bacon.

Jersey Beefsteaks are Merrill’s favorite all-around tomato, but they’re also the best choice for a BLT—because they’re dependable: sweet, juicy, and the right size for a slice of bread. We salt ours first and scoop out any goop and seeds in the slice’s little pockets. We like them sliced thick—about 1/2 inch.

The Best Way to Cook Bacon

The Best Way to Cook Bacon by Brette Warshaw

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My Best Tomato Sandwich

My Best Tomato Sandwich by Merrill Stubbs

The Bacon: Thick-cut, oven-baked bacon.
The bacon brings people in, so it has to be good: smoky; thick enough to chew instead of crumble but still crispy; and baked so that the pieces lay flat.

The Lettuce: Chopped romaine.
If lettuce is there for crunch, it better crunch. Too often the tomato juices and mayo wilt it before it can ever deliver. So put a small handful of lettuce above the heavy stuff and chop it: By doing so, you’re more prone to get midribs here and there—this is good.

How to Make Quick Hot Pickled Peppers

How to Make Quick Hot Pickled Peppers by Mei Chin

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The Sandwich That Makes Me Feel at Home in New York

The Sandwich That Makes Me Feel at Home in New York by Samantha Weiss Hills

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The Bonus Round: Pickled hot peppers.
We also threw in some pickled hot peppers—by no means necessary, but every sandwich loves heat and a little pickle (some who really know sandwiches say it’s required).

An upstanding BLT, right here.
An upstanding BLT, right here. Photo by Linda Xiao

How do you build your best BLT? Tell us in the comments below! And be sure to check back on Friday for all of our BLT-Off contenders.

Tags: BLT, bacon, lettuce, tomato, tomato week