Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BLT Must Have TLC

Adam Richman, the moon-faced foodie from The Travel Channel, has been setting out across America to find the country's best sandwich.

There are 12 finalists in "Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America," which airs on TTC Wednesdays at 9:00pm.

Detroit is represented, as the Yardbird sandwich from Slows BBQ is among the final 12.

In today's Freep, food writer Sylvia Rector writes that Slows chef Brian Perrone tosses smoked, pulled chicken with sauteed mushrooms and then adds cheddar, applewood bacon and a special sweet-and-tangy mustard sauce.

Sounds scrumptious, as do these sandwiches in Rector's story. But they all have one thing in common: a strong hint of hoity-toity-ness.

Nowhere in Richman's series or in Rector's story, which tells of the Freep's 2008 attempt to find the Best Sandwich in Metro Detroit, will you see a true American classic.

Give me a good ole BLT (or two) and you can have all your fancy-shmancy sammies.

Is there anything better, really, than freshly fried, crisp bacon layered with ripened tomatoes and crispy (not wilted) lettuce, lightly slathered with mayonnaise and sitting between two slices of toasted bread?

The only thing not good about a BLT is the price of the B.

Honestly, as much as I love bacon, I don't know why anyone would purchase it if it's not on special.

I can't see spending upwards of $5 on a pound of Oscar Meyer or other "name brand" bacon.

We wait till those glorious two-for-$5 specials appear at our local market. Then we snatch up a couple of pounds and go to town.

And watch out for those pseudo specials, where the markets offer 2 12-oz. packages for $5. That's really only a pound-and-a-half for five bucks, which is tantamount to about $3.33 per pound.

I sometimes make and eat a BLOT, which is simply a BLT with slices of onion.

Crisp is the operative word, however, when talking BLT. Everything that has to do with the sandwich, save the tomato, ought to be crisp; the bacon can't be gummy, the lettuce can't be wilted and the toast can't be soggy. Or else, the sandwich loses much of its appeal.

And oh, what an appeal it has.

Gathering the family around the kitchen table for a bunch of "serve yourself" BLTs is a great answer to the nightly question, "What's for dinner?"

If you have the patience to baby the bacon during cooking, then you've survived half the BLT battle. A proper crisping of two pounds of bacon in a frying pan can take upwards of 30-45 minutes; anything less will result in under cooked, gummy bacon, which is like a tough, overcooked filet mignon in terms of kitchen nightmares.

The tomatoes ought to be ripe and juicy---not orange and hard, like the ones found on a cheap diner's tossed salad in winter time.

The mayonnaise must be present but not overly so. It's the goofy uncle of the sandwich, and we all know how obnoxious and insufferable a goofy uncle can be.

The lettuce should be Romaine, if possible, and freshly bought. It has to be able to withstand the bacon's warmth and the tomato's juiciness. Wilted, old lettuce can torpedo a BLT's flavor and feel slimey in your mouth.

The bread ought to be white---not Italian, French or (gasp!) anything Pita. I might get some static here, but I maintain that a traditional BLT tastes best on sliced white bread, lightly toasted.

Cut that sucker in half, diagonally, and you'll have your own Sandwich of the Year.


This BLT isn't stacked exactly as I would do it, but it looks tasty

As for how to layer it, that's up to you. I place the bacon on first, then the lettuce, then the tomato. If it's a BLOT, the onion goes on between the lettuce and the tomato. Only the top slice of toast gets swiped with mayonnaise. But that's just me.

One more thing: I like to not put my BLT down once I start eating it. They tend to fall apart if properly stacked. So grasp the sandwich with both hands and then after biting into it, gently release one hand while keeping the other on the sammy, to guard against self-destruction.

It's an American classic, I tell you, and it's not just for lunch. BLTs with a soup of choice make a proper dinner.

Make sure you have a bag of fresh potato chips ready to complete your plate. Something pickled works nice, too, as a relish.

If you like the sophisticated sandwiches that Richman is hopping, skipping and jumping to try, or the ones Rector judged in the Free Press, God bless you.

Just give me a BLT, made the way described above, and I won't be missing out on a thing.

I might be more thirsty than you, but it's a small price to pay.

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