I agree with Mary G. Pepitone: summer is synonymous with BLT.
By ANDREA SHORES
Hot weather arrives, vines drip with fat, red tomatoes, and I crave a crispy, juicy BLT.
It’s a simple sandwich so it shouldn’t be hard to find a good one. Think again: I’ve had BLTs too messy, bread too toasted, and bread too mushy.
I set out to find a BLT like the simple, yet delicious ones my mom served. She served BLTs on toasted whole-wheat bread with iceberg lettuce, a slather of mayonnaise, red, ripe tomatoes and bacon cooked in the microwave.
They weren’t big or fussy. They were just good.
The BLT is a hyper-seasonal item on the lounge menu at Bluestem appearing only at the very height of tomato season. After a month of checking the website regularly, I resorted to tweeting chef Joe West who confirmed it made its 2013 debut this month. The restaurant is located at 900 Westport Road.
The bread: Thick slices of brioche buttered, seasoned with salt and pepper and toasted
The bacon: Eight thick slices of Burger’s Bacon
The build: Bluestem takes great pride in how they assemble the BLT, and West is very precise. West told me after toasting the buttered side of the bread, one side gets a slather of spicy mayonnaise and the other a slather of tomato jam. The tomato is dressed with olive oil and seasoned, topped with field greens, eight slices of freshly cooked bacon and sandwiched together in a very particular order.
The BLT is always on the menu at The Brick and it’s good. It was the closest to my mom’s version and it was just what I was looking for in a BLT. The Brick is located at 1727 McGee St.
The bread: Thin slices of lightly toasted wheat-berry bread.
The bacon: Slices of peppered bacon cooked to a crisp.
The build: I remember no rhyme or reason to how they assemble the BLT because I was too busy devouring it, but sandwiched between the slices of bread with the bacon are tomato, lettuce and just the right amount of mayonnaise.
The BLT is a staple on the menu at The Peanut. And it’s as famous as its wings in my opinion. The BLT is similar to the simple sandwich of my youth. And just as The Peanut is often filled with characters, the BLT has some character of its own.
The Peanut has several locations, including one at 5000 Main St. and another at 418 W. Ninth St.
The bread: Toasted whole-wheat bread like that found in the sandwich aisle at grocery stores.
The bacon: The slices of crispy bacon on the Single BLT are the perfect amount. But those who can’t get enough bacon can add extra bacon or get The Triple with even more bacon and slices of bread.
The build: This is where The Peanut makes the BLT unique. With the lettuce and tomato they add shredded cheddar cheese and diced red onions along with black pepper mixed with the mayonnaise.
I found that bread matters, and the thicker the bread the more careful it needs to be toasted. The last thing I want to leave with is the roof of my mouth in pain.
The bacon must be cooked crisp, but not to the point of crumbling. Chewy pieces of bacon are hard to bite through when eating a sandwich, and I want the bacon to hold up when I bite into it.
Bacon, lettuce and tomato are the foundation of any good BLT, but don’t be scared of additions like spicy mayonnaise or cheddar cheese to add some character.
I could eat the BLT at The Peanut every day for its simplicity and added flair. But I look forward to the BLT making its appearance on the menu at Bluestem. While certainly the largest BLT I’ve tried, its perfect execution makes for a summertime staple that’s not to be missed.
Raised by generations of cooks, farmers and green thumbs, Andrea Shores is an enthusiastic eater and curious cook. She loves sharing her passion for local food by telling farmers’ and food purveyors’ stories.