Tony's Ultimate B.L.T. (and A.)
Makes: 4 sandwiches
8 slices bread (for this sandwich, we love Breadsmith's Rustic Italian, but a good whole grain would also be good)
2 medium or large tomatoes, cut into quarter-inch slices
1 avocado, sliced into strips lengthwise
4 to 6 pieces of bacon
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon bacon grease
Our garden is exploding with tomatoes right now, thanks to the recent heat wave, and by mid-morning Sarah and I find ourselves looking longingly at the griddle, waiting for the lunch hour to arrive so we can indulge in our favorite summer sandwich: the Amazing B.L.T.
I bet we've had B.L.T.s at least eight times over the past two weeks, but only because we had to give the garden a break to replenish before more tomatoes were ready. In fact, I've even found myself thinking about B.L.T.s upon waking, that's how good they are.
This simple sandwich has ignited a passion within us that only a homegrown tomato and salty, savory bacon can satisfy. Throw in some garden greens, a couple slices of Breadsmith's Rustic Italian bread (lightly brushed with butter and cooked on the griddle in a tiny amount of bacon fat), and it's easy to understand how these cravings can develop.
First we prepare our tomatoes, and right now we're enjoying North Dakota Cannonball, Golden Jubilee, and orange Sunray tomatoes from our garden. One of our favorite kitchen utensils is our tomato knife, which has a serrated edge for easy cutting, and a two-pronged tip to pick up each slice. We use this knife for so many foods, but it is perfect for tomatoes.
Next, sprinkle each slice with a liberal dose of sea or kosher salt according to your taste, (this helps bring out the juices in the tomato) and then add a little freshly ground black pepper.
We set our griddle at 350 degrees and cook the bacon for about 5 minutes on one side, 2 to 3 minutes on the other, brushing the bacon grease into the drip tray a few times as it cooks. Once it's reached your desired level of doneness, remove the bacon from the griddle and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Next comes the secret to these sandwiches: Griddling the bread in a little bit of bacon fat, instead of toasting it in a toaster. We love toast, but this technique produces such a better sandwich.
First, brush each slice of bread with melted butter on one side, and place them butter-side down on the griddle, letting it cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. As it cooks, brush the other side of each slice with butter. Once the slices have turned a gorgeous golden color, flip the bread and cook the other side until just starting to brown.
Remove the bread, and break each strip of bacon in half. Lay four strips on the side of bread that is more lightly toasted, followed by the tomato slices, and then the lettuce. We don't place the tomatoes right next to the bread, or it can become soggy. If you have some ripe avocado, now's the time to use it, so slice it up and place it on top of the tomatoes.
Slice the sandwich in half and serve. Then find yourself counting the minutes until it's time for your next meal: We confess, there have been days lately where we've had B.L.T.s for lunch AND dinner. And, as we survey the bounty in garden today, it's quite possible that we'll be enjoying them for breakfast next week, too.