Building the Best BLT Ever in Dallas
It was The Libertine Bar that set me off. I was craving a BLT, but what I got was a failed attempt at a fancy "BLT" riff. Pork belly stood in for bacon and was soft, thick and sweet. The lettuce was shredded and fell from the sandwich with every bite, and the tomatoes, at the height of the summer season, were blonde and bordering on green. The only good that came of it was that the sandwich set off an epic quest for the perfect BLT.
A BLT on Village Bakery's pain du mie.
See Also: The Nine Best BLTs of Dallas
You can get BLTs all over the city, but you'll never get one as awesome as the one you can build at home. Casting off ingredient cost and other constraints that hinder most chefs, you're free to build a sandwich that's as decadent as you dare to dream it.
Buy the best bacon you can find and make sure you take home too much of it. Bacon keeps for a while in the fridge, and having a little extra lying around is always a good thing. My favorite right now is Nueske's, because of its pronounced applewood smoke and sweetness. You can get it at the deli counter at Central Market.
Bacon from both Whole Foods and Central Market
Cook it slowly and carefully, until nearly all the fat has rendered out and the bacon is a rich mahogany. You want your bacon to have a lot of crunch. A baking sheet outfitted with a cooling rack in a 375 degree oven is the easiest way to get perfect bacon every time.
Don't get fancy with the lettuce. You're looking for crisp leaves with a lot of moisture and a neutral flavor. Iceberg is perfect. Butter lettuce is good, too, especially if you use the leaves near the center of head.
Resist the urge to pick up those perfect-looking orbs at the grocery store and hit up your local farmers market for some tomatoes that were picked a day, or even hours, ago. Slice them thick and season each slice with salt and cracked pepper. One tomato per sandwich is the minimum.
Don't forget to season your tomatoes.
Get your bread from a good bakery. I used the pain du mie from Village Baking Co. as a more flavorful way to approximate the white bread I grew up on. They've also got a pain au levain that's dense and hearty with sour tones. Choose whichever bread speaks to you. It's your sandwich.
Make your own mayonnaise with eggs from the farmers market. I know this is where I'm going to loose some people, but it's worth it. If you look carefully, the mayo on the sandwich at the top of this post is bone-white, and it tastes like the boring mayo we all grew up on. The bread for the sandwich at the bottom of the post is lapped in homemade mayonnaise, which tastes like lemon and richness and sunlight. That's a lot of brightness for a little bit of whisking and one more dirty bowl. Try it.
The only thing limiting you at this point are matters of engineering. The goal is to get as much bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on this thing as possible, while still being able to pick the sandwich up and shuttle it to your face. Go for broke, and know that if a tomato slice launches out the back when you take a bite, you're probably off to a good start.
Your plate should be a puddle when you're finished, and your mouth should burn from all of the acid in those tomatoes. There are BLTs at bars and restaurants all over Dallas, many of them tempting, but you'll never find one quite like the one you're about to make.
A BLT on Village Bakery's pain au levain.