When I was growing up, I remember BLTs as a special favorite dinner for our family. My grandmother’s lettuce and tomatoes, picked from her garden that day, were delicious. The thing I remember most was that we kept the toaster at the dining room table, so that we could all make our sandwiches while sitting down together for a meal. Toast, it has been pointed out by my husband, is treated somewhat sacramentally by my family of origin. My grandfather drove a bread truck, and often brought home a day-old loaf for his three growing sons. They would sit at the kitchen table in the evening, toasting the entire loaf as a snack. To outsiders, it might seem strange to eat toast after breakfast-time, but it’s definitely well within the range of normal at our house. BLTs for dinner, however, were a different story. Tomato season is a special time – somehow it signifies the end of summer, when you want to soak up as much sunshine and eat as much fresh produce as possible. The salty-sweet combination of the bacon and the tomatoes, combined with the cool crunch of the lettuce and the chewiness of the bread, makes a perfect sandwich. Add some corn on the cob and maybe a peach crisp, and you have the perfect summer evening meal.
I’m not particularly picky about bacon, but I like the thick-cut variety if possible, and Neuske’s is a great source. As a native of Wisconsin, I’m biased, of course, but I think Neuske’s is pretty well known throughout the country.
The California BLT recipe (Barefoot Contessa At Home, p. 29) adds lemon juice and avocado to the traditional BLT ingredients. Even though I didn’t think the original needed improvement, these additions really are delicious. I used sourdough bread, and sent my husband back to the office bragging about his restaurant-quality lunch. The recipe calls for baking/roasting the bacon in the oven, which certainly improves the (splattery, messy) experience of those earlier BLTs at home.