You wake up and you have that craving that can only be cured by a delicious homemade BLT sandwich. That’s a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich to the uninitiated. But you know that already, you must have noticed that every cafe, sandwich bar and shop the length and breadth of the country sells a BLT.
Celebrating British Food & Cooking
I don’t know about you but I find the pre-packaged BLT’s very disappointing. For me, like all ready-made sandwiches, they will never compare to a freshly made sandwich with crusty fresh bread and hot smoked bacon filling with crisp lettuce and vine tomatoes.
Cold bacon, soggy bread, limp lettuce and tasteless tomato just doesn’t do it for me.
Now my ideal sandwich may not be the same as yours, but let’s see if we can run through the options and come up with your best BLT sandwich.
Which Bread For Your Sandwich?
Do you like that crunch as you bite through your perfectly toasted bread, the sensation of fresh crusty bread with that light and fluffy centre, or even the standard bulk-produced sliced white loaf?
Regardless of your choice of bread, be aware that it will affect your perception of the bit in the middle. Do you want the bread to stand out or to complement the filling? It can even be relegated to the role of a means of getting the filling from the plate to the mouth rather like a pitta or a wrap.
There are so many high-quality artisan breads available on the high street and in markets now we are spoilt for choice. With modern home bread makers, baking your own is easier than ever.
So choose your bread with care, after all, it’s two-thirds of your sandwich.
To Toast or Not to Toast?
Some sandwiches are definitely suited to toast, the Scandinavian open sandwich being a good example. Some like egg and mayonnaise or any filling that would make the toast soggy are, in my opinion definitely not.
In our house opinion is divided. Me, I’m for fresh crusty bread, my wife definitely prefers toast.
Touting for opinions around the family, it seems that in general toast is preferred for hot fillings like sausages or bacon and untoasted for cold fillings.
The reason for my preference is really quite simple; I like sauces in my sandwiches and bread soaks up the sauce better than toast. QED.
Smoked or Unsmoked Bacon?
Do you prefer your bacon smoked or unsmoked? I am definitely in the smoked camp.
We humans have been salting pork for preservation ever since pigs were domesticated. Bacon and even the word itself both originate from Anglo-Saxon Britain and later in the middle ages specially bred British pigs were used to provide the cuts of pork unique for making what we now call back bacon.
Whether you prefer the milder unsmoked or the deeper flavour of the smoked bacon there isn’t much difference in the amount of salt. Both types use salt in the curing process to remove excess water.
Fat Content of Bacon
Most of the bacon eaten in the UK today is back bacon made from pork loin. It’s the same cut from which we get pork chops. Back bacon is much leaner than streaky or side bacon which is made from pork belly and has alternating strips of fat and muscle. Streaky bacon is the most common cut in the US.
Grilling the bacon on a raised grid instead of pan frying will allow a large proportion of the fat to cook out of the meat.
Bringing Home The Bacon
You have probably heard the phrase “bring home the bacon” and assumed it had something to do with bringing home money when in actual fact it was first said in 12th century England in the spirit of matrimonial harmony. A church in the historic English town of Dunmow promised a flitch (side) of bacon to any married man who could swear before the congregation and God that he had not quarrelled with his wife for a year and a day. A husband who could bring home the bacon was held in high esteem by the community for his forbearance, self-control and patience.
courtesy of The English Breakfast Society
What About The Lettuce?
If there’s one thing that is going to let your sandwich down despite all your efforts to produce the best BLT sandwich, it’s the lettuce. What you want is that crispy crunch as you bite through the bread before you reach the bacon.
Alternatively, fresh bistro-style lettuce with some added rocket will spice up the sandwich without the need to add sauce or mustard.
Don’t Forget The Tomato
For flavour, you can’t beat homegrown tomatoes and I find the modern mass-produced varieties to be tasteless with thick skins. If you are going to the trouble of constructing your best BLT then push the boat out and buy on the vine tomatoes. They cost more but they are so much better.
Get a larger variety, not cherry tomatoes, maybe even beefsteak or Spanish tomatoes you get more flesh and this really adds to the texture of the sandwich.
Don’t forget a light sprinkle of sea salt on the tomato slices to really bring out the flavour. I don’t put salt on my food with only two exceptions, chips and tomatoes.
If you have the patience, salt the slices 15-20 minutes before you need them. The salt removes excess water which really enhances and intensifies the flavour.
Other Recipes You Maybe Interested in …..
Well, here it is, my idea of the best BLT sandwich. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I’m about to enjoy mine. I’ve written about it for long enough, I’m off to make one 😋.
Here’s the Recipe …
The Best British BLT Sandwich
- 3 rashers smoked back bacon
- crispy lettuce
- 2 medium tomatoes bought on the vine
- 2 slices fresh crusty bread
- butter for spreading
- sea salt
- Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle each slice lightly with salt. Leave for 15-20 minutes.
- Lay the rashers of bacon in a pre-heated frying or griddle pan and fry gently for 3 minutes on each side.
- While the bacon is cooking toast the bread slices.
- Butter the toast. On one slice lay out the sliced tomatoes and arrange the bacon rashers on top.
- Top the bacon with the crispy lettuce and place the other slice of toast on top.
- Pour yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy the best BLT sandwich.