The Very American BLT


Many people are grilling hamburgers this holiday weekend (hopefully, grassfed burgers, not feedlot meat!) but I think an equally American sandwich–and one of my faves–is the Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato, or BLT. With nitrite-free bacon, of course.

Historians claim the BLT originated as a Victorian tea-time sandwich, but I think most of us would agree that it’s been on American menus long enough to be considered one of our own. From a tea-time treat, it may have evolved to a club sandwich, which I was able to find in my great-grandmother’s early edition Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer.

There’s no publish date, but my great-grandmother wrote her name in it in 1909.

Growing up in my family, we always assembled our BLTs on toast. It wasn’t until I had my first job as a busgirl at the Ramada Inn in Mahwah, New Jersey, that I tasted truly the best-ever BLT. Since it was my favorite sandwich, Scottie, the line cook, would make me one when I worked the lunch shift. The key to this great tasting sandwich? Grilled–as in fried in grease on a restaurant grill. To this day, I think it just tastes better to grill the bread rather than toast it.

So, that’s what we had today. After cooking the bacon, I simply brushed four pieces of Sami’s Bakery Millet & Flax bread (Bill-friendly, of course) with olive oil and seared them on one side on our own “grill,” which is the iron griddle we use to make oat cakes.

The other thing Scottie did was slather both pieces of bread with lots of mayo. I don’t dislike mayo but I’ve always been fairly conservative with it on sandwiches. A BLT really tastes better with more, I must admit.

With a nice thick slice of tomato and some fresh lettuce from the Holland Farmers’ Market, you’ve got a nice sandwich.

Easy, minimal heat in the kitchen, and pleasing to all your taste buds. May BLTs (with happy bacon) stay on American menus for the next hundred years!

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