You’re Probably Using the Wrong Bacon in Your BLT—Try This Instead|Recipes Spots

You’re Probably Using the Wrong Bacon in Your BLT—Try This Instead

blt sandwich
Simply Recipes / Aaron Hutcherson

A BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) is a perfect sandwich. Some of you are already nodding your heads in approval, but for others that need convincing: a BLT sandwich hits on so many levels. Its deceptive simplicity might fool you into thinking you need more complex components to make something tasty; its ubiquity on diner menus which may use less-than-ideal ingredients (a mealy tomato can ruin a BLT) might have turned you off for good. 

I’m not going to lie: I was once part of this latter group. I believed the BLT was a meh sandwich, and oddly enough, I wasn’t convinced of its true power until I went to a cafe that served a BLT crepe with the most perfect tomato I’d ever tasted. 

I’m here to tell you that the BLT can be absolutely transcendent—if you grab the right ingredients. So save that thick-cut bacon for your breakfast. Steer clear from dry-cured bacon. Here’s what you need to know to pick the perfect bacon for a BLT.

Bacon on top of BLT sandwich
Simply Recipes / Lauri Patterson

Bacon’s Role in a BLT

To know the right kind of bacon to buy, we need to talk about how the three critical ingredients in a BLT interact with one another. It might seem as if all three should get star billing, but really, a BLT is the tomato show, and the lettuce and bacon are its backup players. 

As chef and cookbook author J. Kenji Lopez-Alt describes it in his recipe for the perfect BLT: “A BLT is not a democracy. It is not a committee meeting. It is a dictatorship, and the tomato is King, Queen, and Supreme Leader. In the BLT universe, the Prime Directive is that all other ingredients shall be at Her Majesty’s service, their only role to prop her up and enhance her best qualities.” Bacon isn’t there to steal the spotlight but to make tomato the star. 

How To Bake Bacon in the Oven - pile of crispy browned bacon
Nick Evans

This Is the Right Bacon for Your BLT

You want to avoid picking a style of bacon that pulls focus from the tomato—this is why dry-cured options aren’t ideal for the perfect BLT. “Because of the extended curing and smoking processes, it tends to have a flavor that I find overwhelming and distracting in a BLT,” writes Lopez-Alt. “Most dry-cured bacons are extra thick-cut and extra meaty, which gives them a chewier texture that can crush tomatoes or make the sandwich difficult to bite through.” 

Think about the bacon as a seasoning or a textural element—yes, you want to taste the bacon, but what can it add to the tomato party? This is where wavy, thin-cut bacon comes in. “Using wavy, thin-cut bacon in a BLT is kind of like putting potato chips in your sandwich: It adds salt and a satisfying crunch when you take a bite,” writes cookbook author Ali Slagle in her recipe for a BLT. If you’ve ever been struck by genius and added potato chips to a sandwich, wavy bacon achieves the same effect. 

Wavy bacon can get really, really crispy (Lopez-Alt says you should cook until it is “shatteringly crisp”), which will contrast with the texture of the tomato without overwhelming its flavor. Wavy, thin-cut options will keep the integrity of your starring ingredient while providing a textural crunch and just a hint of salt and smoke that make for the perfect sandwich.

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