The bacon lettuce tomato, is a tried and true sandwich. You can’t go wrong. I recall, as a youngster, I once ate 6 blt’s at a Waffle House in Missouri. I must have been hungry then, and I wish I had one now. So what can I do as a chef that the Waffle House hasn’t already perfected? Nothing. BUT I can mix it up a little.
You will need:
2# slab of bacon, not sliced
real maple syrup
french (not sour) baguette
olive oil, salt, pepper
and a vacuum sealer
First, you need to cook the slab of bacon.
It’s so easy. Vacuum seal the slab in a vacuum seal bag.
Simmer the bag in water for about 4 hours. The way you can tell if it is ready is take the bag out of the water and see if you can push your finger through the meat. It should be tender but not mushy. When the meat is ready, plunge the bag into a bath of ice water. Let it chill completely. You can even do this part a couple days in advance so you are not racing the clock on the day of your party.
Open up the bag and scrape off the extra fat and gelatinized juice that came out. Cut the meat about 2 cm thick and into squareish pieces. Save these guys for later…
Now, If you choose, you can peel the heirloom tomatoes. If not, whatever. I like to peel the larger tomatoes and just cut the cherry tomatoes in half. To peel the tomatoes, cut out the part of the tomato where the stem grows out with a small knife. If the tomatoes are ripe you only need to blanch them in boiling water for about 10 seconds. In school they teach you to pop the tomatoes into ice water to stop the cooking. However, any restaurant I’ve worked in would teach you to just put them on a sheet pan to air cool. If you put them in ice water you will just rinse away precious tomato flavor.
Get your small knife and peel away the tomato skin. Cut the tomato into like 6-8 big juicy wedges. Handle the tomato with care so you don’t squish out the seeds or juice.
Then, make a quick maple-sherry glaze. 1 cup maple syrup, 1 cup sherry vinegar mixed together and reduced by half in a sauce pan. Add a pinch of cracked black pepper and salt.
In my opinion, you also need some bread. I like to cut the crust off the baguette and tear it into rough square pieces. Toss the pieces in a generous amount of butter. Toast the bread in a 400 degree oven. They will cook pretty quick. You are looking for bread that is golden brown on the outside and soft and buttery inside.
On the day, at the moment of truth, sear all the bacon pieces on both sides. They should be golden brown. Put them on a sheet pan and brush them with the glaze. When you are ready to plate you will heat them through in the oven at 350 degrees.
Season the tomatoes and croutonss with a pinch of salt and lay a few down in the middle of the plate.
Next, put a couple pieces of juicy bacon on top of the tomatoes and croutons. You should also take some of the extra glaze and drizzle it around the outside of the tomatoes.
Finally, mix some arugula with olive oil, salt and pepper. Top the dish with as much arugula as you please.
This finished product would look something like this;
The keys to success here are great tomatoes, juicy bacon, sweet and sour glaze, butter croutons, and a pinch of salt.