TGIFOOD

SAUCY SANDWICH

Lekker Brekker Monday: The classic BLT

Lekker Brekker Monday: The classic BLT
Tony Jackman’s bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, served on a platter by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Bacon, lettuce, tomato. So simple. But how do we make it the best it can be?

I lived on BLTs when we were living in Chichester. I’d buy one from Marks & Spencer every morning and devour it at my desk at the Chichester Observer. It’s such a pleasing mix and makes the perfect breakfast sandwich.

There’s the bacon you need to fire up your day, but lightness too from the salad ingredients. And it’s finished, or should be, with a tangy sauce to add voomah to the sarmie. Or sarnie, as they’re called in Britain, as if to remind us that it was named after the Earl of Sandwich, not Samwich. We know that, obviously, but sarmie just makes more sense to the South African ear.

To be perfectly precise about the derivation of our ubiquitous bread snack, his full name and titles were: John Montagu, 4th earl of Sandwich, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, Baron Montagu of Saint Neots, and he lived from 1718 to 1792. He was first lord of the Admiralty during the American Revolution (1776 to 1781), but is more famous for the food that carries his name. The legend is that he was playing cards and didn’t want to interrupt his game, so asked for slices of beef to be placed between two slices of bread and brought to him at his cards table. How that took off to be consumed worldwide forever and ever we can only wonder at.

Having said that, surely somebody, somewhere, had had the same idea before then, but not being a famous aristocrat no one ever got to know about it. 

Anyway, the original was a beef sandwich, but the BLT is undoubtedly more ubiquitous.

A good BLT needs the obvious trio of ingredients (and it should be back bacon, ideally), of course, but it also needs good bread, preferably crunchy outside and soft within; seasoning, and a suitable sauce. I went for a sauce with freshness and tang, a bit of bite, and just a hint of sweetness too.

Choose your preferred bread, whether sourdough, baguette or whatever takes your fancy; but be sure that it is fresh and also warm when you butter it. I like to toast the bread in a dry pan to “wake it up” as it were. And I like butter lettuce for its buttery softness in a sandwich, but you may prefer a crispier variety.

(Per 1 sandwich)

Ingredients

2 or 3 slices of back bacon

Baguette

Butter

1 perfectly ripe tomato

Butter lettuce

Salt and black pepper

For the sauce:

2 Tbsp good quality mayonnaise, not too tangy

1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp honey

A few drops of Tabasco Sriracha sauce

Method

Fry the bacon until crisp and the fat is browned in places, but don’t take it so far as to become brittle. For a BLT it needs that perfect blend of softness and crunch at the edges.

Cut long chunks of baguette the French way, about an imperial foot long, then slice them in half lengthwise through the middle. Heat a dry pan and toast them lightly on both sides. Butter the insides generously while still hot.

Slice the tomato so that you have 3 or 4 slices, and rinse and dry the lettuce.

Smear sauce on them and layer with butter lettuce. Drizzle more sauce on the lettuce and lay the tomato slices on top. Season with salt and black pepper.

Place the bacon on top (less than three rashers would be stingy) and top with the other half of the bread. Add any remaining sauce. You know what to do next. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

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