CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — BLT Time

Home-grown tomatoes are nothing like those that can be purchased in grocery stores or supermarkets. That might be an understatement.

In fact, in the opinion of many gardeners, there probably isn’t any food better than the first tomato of summer.

I just sampled my first of the season — with just a dab of salt — from our garden today. It lived up to all of my expectations. And it won’t be the only tomato I eat today.

Tonight for supper, we’re having BLT sandwiches. For those of you who are unfamiliar — and I don’t think there are too many of you — that stands for bacon, lettuce and tomato.

Besides the home-grown tomatoes for the sandwiches, we’ll also have some lettuce from our garden — and perhaps a leaf of kale — some Cloverdale bacon that I picked up at our neighborhood Hugo’s supermarket and some nice toasted slices of freshly baked bread from Dakota Harvest Bakery in Grand Forks.

After the tomatoes, bacon is the most important part of a BLT. My preference over the past few years has been locally smoked bacon from pork we’ve purchased from a couple of my friends.

But if I’d seen an online promo from Burgers’ Smokehouse in California, Mo., a week or two earlier, our first BLTs this year might have featured their bacon, which was been voted “Best Dry Cured Bacon” at the Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Burgers’ says its dry cured bacon is cured using a decades-old recipe using salt, brown sugar and black pepper. The bacon is then slow smoked using a natural wood. The award-winning supplier sells through its retail shop, grocery stores, restaurants, direct mail — 3 million catalogs are mailed out annually — and over the Internet at www.smokehouse.com/. (Besides bacon, Burgers’ also sells naturally cured hams, sausage, ribs and much more.)

That bacon sounds pretty good, but not good enough to put off my first BLT for a couple of days!

Basic BLT
½ pound bacon (approximately 12 slices)
8 slices white bread
8 leaves iceberg lettuce, fresh
8 slices of ripened home-grown tomatoes
8 tables spoons mayonnaise or Miracle Whip)
8 slices kale (optional)
Cook bacon until crispy. Place on paper towels. Toast the bread and spread 1 tablespoon of mayo or Miracle Whip on each slice. Add 1 slice of lettuce to 4 pieces of the toast. Add 2 slices tomato on top of lettuce. Arrange 3 slices of bacon evenly on top of tomato. (Break bacon slices in half to to fit, if needed.) Add 1 slice of lettuce on top of bacon. Put the remaining 4 pieces of toast (with mayo or Miracle Whip) on top.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: I also like to butter the toast before adding Miracle Whip, my preference.

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