One For The Road

Story and photos by Brandon Matzek

Crispy smoked bacon, cool iceberg lettuce and juicy ripe tomato piled high between two slices of mayo-slathered toast - the traditional BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato) is one of my go-to sandwiches for when I need a meal on-the-go. Made with just a handful of everyday ingredients, this comfort classic can be ready in the time it takes to sizzle a slice of bacon.

When I'm packing for the car, I like to wrap the sandwich in parchment paper. Later in the day, while I'm blissfully enjoying each bacony bite, the parchment acts as a make-shift plate, catching any bits strewn from my personal feeding frenzy.

When I have an extra moment on the weekends, I like to take my BLTs to the next level. With just a few minor adjustments, this classic is transformed into an almost elegant meal that would fit in at any posh sandwich shop.

Let's start with the bread. Substitute tangy sourdough for simple white bread to bump up the yum factor. Toasting the sourdough in the drippings left over from the bacon will reinforce the bacon flavor with each bite. Next, switch out mayonnaise for a citrusy avocado spread. The spread will provide a bright, grassy note while maintaining an unctuous mouth-feel. Instead of using iceberg lettuce, try frisée or arugula. These bitter greens will lend a peppery contrast to the rich bacon and creamy avocado spread. If you are one of the few who don't like bacon, try substituting in pulled chicken, olive oil roasted eggplant or grilled zucchini slices.

My BLT with Avocado Spread is portable gourmet that can be made almost as quickly as a classic BLT.

Classic BLT

(Serves 1)
Ingredients
4 slices bacon
2 slices white bread, toasted
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 iceberg lettuce leaves
2 slices tomato

Process
Prepare the bacon. Cook bacon in a skillet or 350° oven until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease. Assemble. Spread mayonnaise on the toasted bread. Pile lettuce leaves, tomato slices and cooked bacon on top of one slice of bread. Close the sandwich, then cut in half on the diagonal.

 

BLT with Avocado Spread

(Serves 1)
Ingredients
1 avocado
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices bacon
2 slices sourdough bread
Several frisée leaves
2 slices tomato

Process
Prepare the spread. Cut avocado in half, remove the seed and scoop flesh into a small bowl. Add lime juice, salt to taste and add several turns of freshly ground black pepper. Using a fork, mash mixture until all ingredients are well combined. Consistency should be somewhat chunky.

Cook the bacon. Add bacon slices to a cold skillet and cook over low heat. Cook bacon, flipping occasionally, until crispy. This method takes a little longer, but will ensure that your bacon doesn't curl up. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease.

Toast the bread. Increase heat under the skillet to medium. After a few moments, lay sourdough slices down in the bacon grease. Cook bread until golden brown on one side then flip. Once the second side is lightly golden, transfer bread to the paper towel-lined plate with the bacon.

Assemble. Spoon some of the avocado spread on the sides of the bread that are lightly golden. Arrange frisée, sliced tomato and cooked bacon on top of one slice of bread. Close the sandwich, then cut in half.

 

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