With the onset of warmer weather, we are getting a sneak peek of some of the South’s finest staples. At the exit of Strawberry season, we are being sprung straight into another one of my favorite seasons: the tomato. We Southerner’s all but lose our minds the moment the ugly heirlooms, the perfectly spherical Roma’s, and the tiny misshapen grape tomatoes hit the store shelves- or if you’re lucky they start popping up in your own backyard garden. There are even festivals dedicated solely to out-tomatoing your competition in recipes that are devoted to this noble Southern fruit.
As with any well-raised Southerner, I adore the tomato. There isn’t a shopping trip to the grocery store where the canned or fresh versions don’t find their way into my shopping cart. However, now that we are moving into optimal tomato time, I find every excuse to linger a tad longer at the heirloom selection in my local grocer which means I get to slice up a huge piece and throw it on my favorite style of sandwich: the BLT.
And this is no run of the mill BLT. Oh, no siree! It’s a shame that the BLT doesn’t get the proper accolades that it should. While it’s no friend to vegetarians, it’s not a favorite among us omnivores either which does a dishonor to this underappreciated summer standard. My grandma taught me one of the greatest secrets to creating a BLT that will knock the socks right off your guests, and in the honor of being a good Southern hostess, I will share that very secret with you: mayonnaise.
Alright, alright you already put mayonnaise on the bread before you throw the tomato on, but the real secret is that you need to toast the bread in a cast iron with mayonnaise.
Slather both sides of the bread with mayonnaise and then toast to a golden brown in a cast iron skillet. I would wager that most who dine on a BLT also feel the “B” is lacking as well. So if you lattice weave your bacon and BAKE it in the oven to a chewy crisp (about 8/10 minutes at 375), you will have the perfect ratio of bacon in every bite.
And please, for the sake of all that is holy, do not do yourself the disservice and slice the tomato thinly. You think they put the “T” at the end of the “BLT” so that you wouldn’t emphasize the most important part of the meal? You know the saying, “save the best for last”, so slice a one-inch thick piece of tomato and slap it on that sandwich. You can go a little crazy and put some burrata on your sandwich like I did in this photo, but for simplicity and authenticity, a BLT is all that it really needs to be: bacon, lettuce, tomato.