Monday: Tomato-Fried Rice / Dressed Arugula and Cucumber
Tuesday: Lunch at Mad Mex, Leftovers for dinner
Wednesday: Roast Chicken with Pan Sauce / Rice with Vegetables
Thursday: Bucatini with Weeknight Tomato Sauce
Saturday: Grilled Branzino / Lemon Potatoes / Greek Salad
Sunday: Bucatini with Spicy Meat Sauce and Burrata
Think of the perfect food. It would have all of the great tastes – salt, umami, acid, sugar, vegetal – distinguishable, yet in harmony. It would have crunch, juiciness and a satisfying savoriness. It wouldn’t take long to cook and assemble. It would go with any drink from water to Bloody Mary. It would have to involve bread – man’s staple since we left the Garden of Eden, and surely one of the most satisfying foods in the world. And it would have to include vegetables and fruit, to suit our modern health fads. If it could have a mixture of hot and cold, that would be ideal.
Ladies and gentlemen (and those of you who fall somewhat below either standard – this blog is nothing if not inclusive), I give you the Holy BLT.
I call it holy because Beez and I, and whoever else is at the house, almost always have a BLT for brunch, after Mass, on Sundays, or after the NYT Crossword is finished, if we have been organized enough to go to Mass on Saturday so that Beez can sleep in on Sunday.
Supposing that you have bought into our love for BLTs, but are still wondering why anyone would waste time trying to explain how to make one. Well, that just goes to show that you are not yet ready to have your own food blog. So sit down, listen up, and we’ll tell you how the Holy BLT is best made.
NOTE: The best local BLT is served by The Tavern in the Wall in Aspinwall, PA, where they assemble a bacon-filled sandwich with Mancini’s Italian Bread, lightly pan-fried in butter. Be sure to ask for extra napkins.
THE HOLY BLT
(adapted, I suppose, from something we ate at home or at a lunch counter long ago)
As long as it takes to cook the bacon, plus 5 minutes. We cook our bacon in the oven at 425 F on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. This takes 10-14 minutes to cook and no time to clean up.
Note: Turn your oven to 425 F about 30 minutes before you plan to cook the bacon.
Now here, the complaint about having any instructions at all to cook a BLT, is just barely plausible. Of course, we know that you know the ingredients for a BLT. But we don’t trust that you know the best ones.
Bacon – you want the thick-cut stuff available in your supermarket. We like peppered bacon, but you may not.
Lettuce – send your arugula to President Obama and your micro-lettuces and leaf lettuces to the Merton Society – what you want here is juicy, crunch, iceberg. Not the limp, outer leaves of the head, but the hydraulically rigid inner leaves.
Tomatoes – ripe, but firm. If your local source isn’t available, get the ‘campari’ tomatoes they sell in small plastic containers.
Bread – A light sourdough or slightly firm (firm enough to cut a slice without crushing the loaf) Italian is perfect. Country or farm loaves will work well, but the crust will be tough after it’s toasted.
Mayonnaise – Hellman’s. Even if you make your own aioli for fish stews or vegetable dips, use Hellman’s here. It is the perfect consistency (it won’t drip, like your aioli) and has that unctuous but slightly tangy bite that complements the bacon.
Pickles – some sort of Dill or Bread and Butter. Polish Spears are great.
Assembling your Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich.
You’ve preheated the oven to 425, right? No? Well, add another 20 minutes to your timing – you need an oven that has been up to temperature for at least 10 minutes.
Depending on the size your bacon slices, you’ll need 3 to 4 for each sandwich. If you’re feeling particularly hungry or hung-over, use 5. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil and place the slices on tray. When the oven is hot enough – put the bacon in.
While the bacon is cooking, slice the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Slice the bread, if you need to, and position it in the toaster. DO NOT TOAST THE BREAD UNTIL THE BACON IS COOKED AND YOU HAVE WIPED OFF THE EXCESS GREASE.
Separate a couple of firm, juicy leaves from the Iceberg lettuce.
Get out your pickles and mayo.
About 8 minutes after your bacon has gone into the oven, turn each slice and cook until done the way you like.
When the bacon is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Use another towel to remove excess grease from the top of each slice.
Now, toast two slices of bread, if you are making all of the sandwiches yourself. If you toast all of the bread at once, someone is going to get a cold sandwich. IMPORTANT: You want just a light toast on this bread. That way the crunch from the lettuce will stand out and the bread won’t shatter and fall apart as you eat it.
Put a cooling rack or the rack from inside a roasting pan on the counter, you’ll let the toast sit on this while you make the sandwiches. If you put the hot toast directly on the plate on which you’ll be serving the sandwich, you’ll get a smear of moisture on the plate and a wet bottom on the sandwich.
Spread mayo (the lightest scrim for Beez, a good wallop for me) on each of the bread slices. Top with the tomato, then the bacon – two slices longways and two or four half-slices crosswise, or even more, if you wish. Top the bacon with the lettuce. Top that with the other slice of bread. Cut the sandwich in half. Plate. Garnish with a pickle. Say thanks to God for this most holy of sandwiches – and enjoy.