And you thought the best thing about Mother's Day was the satisfaction you get from making your mom feel like the most special lady on Earth, for at least the course of one homemade brunch. Actually, the best part is the leftover bacon -- enough fatty, crispy slices of swine so as to be able to create the World's Most Perfect Sandwich only hours after gorging oneself on omelets and French toast. I'm talking, of course, about the BLT.
Is there anything better than a bacon sandwich, all salty and smoky and fatty, topped with crunchy, grassy romaine lettuce, thin slices of tart tomatoes, and laced with a generous swath of creamy mayonnaise? Until the day when we all have personal robot chefs who can duplicate to a T the cooking of world-class chefs in our own kitchens (and slightly before the Great Robot Uprising to follow), that answer is no.
There are a couple of rules to great BLT making. I see a lot of people making fancy BLTs, with cheese, avocado, foie gras, blah blah blah. It's all distraction, man. The key to a good BLT is the clear combination of a few distinct flavors. Yes, you can probably make a great sandwich by adding pancetta and mango aioli and tomatillos or whatever. But then you are making a pancetta and mango aioli with tomatillos or whatever sandwich - a PMATW, not a BLT. A BLT consists of bacon, lettuce, and tomato. It's easy to remember, folks. The recipe is in the name!
The rest is simple: 1) Use quality bacon. It should be crisp, and neither cut to thin or too thick. You want to be able to feel the cracking of pig flesh when you bite into it, but you also don't want coldcuts. And you certainly don't want it burned, or dotted with pockets of soggy, unrendered fat. If there are any questions, cook your bacon like a caterer does: on a rack above a baking sheet in a 400-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You can even cook bacon this way without a shirt on and not have to worry about getting second degree grease burns on your chest. Score! 2) Use quality tomatoes. Don't settle for flavorless or unripe conventional tomatoes. Go for the expensive shit. Get Campari cocktail tomatoes or organic or local-grown stuff. They're the only type worth a damn, anyway. You want tart, slightly acidic flavor with a sweet finish. 3) Use romaine lettuce, but not just hearts. Forget iceberg, it sucks. No fancy greens either. You want some leafiness, with a bit of bitter crunch from the stemmy parts. 4) You must use good bread and toast it lightly, at least some nice, multi-grain wheat. It should be hearty bread, because this is a hearty sandwich.
Lastly, I find mayonnaise to be non-optional. It mixes with the juices of the tomato and wicks up and commandeers the bacon fat in just the right way. Plus, you'll need something wet to lube the sandwich up.
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SHOW ME HOW
Voila. There she is, the World's Most Perfect Sandwich in all her glory. Mom would be proud. You think you make a better BLT? Tell us about it. Just please, leave the goose liver and pickled beets and whatever out of it.
UPDATE - Apparently, it's no small coincidence that Mother's Day and BLTs share the stage together. According to LIFE magazine, May is National BLT month, which the magazine has commemorated with a bacon slideshow. My favorite is picture 13 of 14 - now that's some badass Bacon.