There’s been a change of plan. The essential guide to making your own French charcuterie board – taking us all one step closer to living the joie de vivre no matter where we are in the world – never got off the ground. Instead of cheese and cured meats, there came a vicious cold and a sore throat and before I knew it, it was Saturday evening and I hadn’t even prepared a shopping list. So, that idea is shelved until I have the time and energy to venture out to the market and salivate in front of the cheese stall. Until then, here is the meal I treated myself to post-cold-and-sore-throat and one which I enjoyed immensely: the best BLT I’ve ever eaten.
Appetite is an unusual thing. When sick and lying face down on your pillow sheltering yourself from noise and light which are magnified and distorted to ridiculous levels, most people aren’t interested in meals. For some reason though, I was rummaging through the fridge. There was no structure to my snacking; there would be Marmite on toast one day and leftover croissant pudding cake another. I craved sugar, not nutrition. Now that Gaylord has caught this beastly bug just as soon as I’d wrestled it into submission, I’m plying him with noodle soups, freshly-squeezed orange juice and his family special – tea with honey, lemon and vodka – and yet, despite the five-star menu available, his appetite has shrunk to microscopic size, eating only one daily slice of toast.
Therefore, my BLT treat was a celebration of sorts – fie to you villainous virus! You may have captured my fair damsel of a boyfriend, but have no fear, once I have eaten this delicious bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, I will be back to take you down.
Tell me more about this BLT…
A BLT is the iconic sandwich – so iconic in fact it was bestowed its own abbreviation – of bacon, lettuce and tomato. The rest – the condiments, the bread, the additional extras – is up to the person who’s mouth is going to greedily devour it moments later.
This sandwich was a from fridge raid – a little game I play where I construct a meal entirely out of the bare minimum ingredients, an actual modern-day parlour trick if you will! (oh stop it woman.) After a week of colds, our fridge is looking spartan, especially after I emptied the contents of the vegetable draw to make a pungent peanut and miso slaw the other day, which I immediately regretted (maybe my appetite isn’t as strong as I expected?) due to the raw garlic’s fiery burn and the salty smack of miso. With this fridge raid, I came up with one piece of thick-cut smoky bacon, lettuce still crisp and green, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and half a bulb of garlic. We also have that great long-life American-style sandwich bread in the cupboard (if you’re in the mood for a tuna melt, I really recommend it, although possibly not for much else).
How is this the BEST BLT?
The three key ingredients don’t need to be primped or polished, but a dash of je ne sais quoi can make the flavours pop. Don’t worry, we’re not going to go completely bouji and substitute the tomatoes for the sundried variety or anything (although that does sound good). For my birthday this year, Gaylord made me the most incredible BLT conjured up by food blogger and Instagrammer Bonnie Does Food. Using Bonnie as my guide, I played around with the ingredients. For the best BLT, there are the following tweaks:
Bacon: Slather in a mustard and maple syrup glaze with a pinch of chilli pepper.
Tomatoes: Marinate the tomato slices in drizzles of olive oil and red wine or balsamic vinegar along with some torn basil leaves.
Mayonnaise: Squeeze the cloves of squidgy soft roasted garlic and mix into mayonnaise.
Bread: Fried. Naturally.
Lettuce: Chopped. Admittedly, there’s not a lot you can do with lettuce.
Forget a quick sandwich lunch, this BLT needs creativity and focus. Roast the garlic then squeeze it through the papery skin and mix with mayonnaise. Grill the glazed bacon until crisp around the edges and marinate the tomatoes (no problem if you don’t have fresh basil, this is a fridge raid after all! Luckily we have a pot outside which Gaylord has christened ‘Baby Bas’ and waters it tenderly everyday). Chop the lettuce, fry the bread in a little oil, then layer that BLT up with mayo on both pieces of bread. It’s not a sandwich for the tender-hearted.
The best BLT is the perfect meal to not only give you an ego boost for how good you are at cooking, but it’s naughty pick-me-up thanks to all those salty, sweet, tangy, hot flavours, clearing airways and providing a much hardier shot of energy than whatever I gained from those vodka teas I’ve been guzzling. The fried bread is salty and crunchy from the fat, yet the lettuce is crisp and watery, and the tomatoes have a delicious sweet-sourness from the vinegar. Fatty, spicy bacon and mayo thickened with the soft warmth of roasted garlic completes this sinful treat of a lunch, one we all deserve, sick or not.
The Best BLT
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 100 g mayonnaise
- 2 rashers of thick-cut smoky bacon
- ½ tsp Dijon or wholegrain mustard
- 3 tsp maple syrup
- A pinch of chilli powder/chilli flakes
- 1 large tomato
- A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- A drop of red wine vinegar
- Torn fresh basil leaves
- 1-2 little gem lettuces
- 4 slices of white bread Whatever you have available, although if it's got a hard crust, it'll be more difficult to fry
- A splash of flavourless oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Wrap the garlic bulb in foil and preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/395°F. Once hot, chuck in the garlic and roast for 25 minutes. Leave to cool before unwrapping.
- Squeeze the garlic out of the skin into a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, mix to combine and set aside.
- Preheat the grill to 200°C/180°C fan/395°F. Line a grill pan with baking parchment and top with the bacon. Mix together the mustard, maple syrup and the pinch of chilli, and brush it over the upside of the bacon slices. Keep half of the glaze in the bowl as you'll need to brush the other side later.
- Slide the tray into the grill and cook for 5-10 minutes, checking regularly. When you turn the rashers, brush with the remaining glaze. Cook until crisp around the edge. Remove from the grill and cut each in half.
- Slice the tomato and place in a bowl with the olive oil, red wine vinegar and torn basil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Separate the leaves of the lettuce and wash under cold water. Shake dry and chop roughly into bite-sized pieces.
- Add some flavourless oil to a frying pan and once it's hot but not smoking quickly fry the bread, roughly 2 minutes each side, until golden and crisp.
- It's time to construct the sandwich! Spread a quarter of the mayo on two pieces of fried bread, add the tomato slices, the bacon pieces and the lettuce, spread more mayo on the top slice and sandwich that BLT together.