By Sean Keeley, culinary specialist, Lincoln Land Community College
The popular phrase “bring home the bacon” can be traced to the 12th century, in the English town of Dunmow. The church in the town promised to reward a side of bacon to any married man who swore before God and the congregation that he would not quarrel with his wife for a year and a day. The husband who could bring home the bacon was highly esteemed by his community. (From www.baconscouts.com/bacon-facts/bacon-history/)
Bacon is great on its own, but it also makes a lot of things better. Smokey and crispy, even chewy sometimes. My mom would put grape jelly on her toast and top it with bacon. I thought she was weird until I tried it. Grape jelly toast is OK; add bacon and Shazam!
One of my favorite meals is the humble BLT. And this is the time of year when they are the best. Vine ripe tomatoes from your garden or the Farmers’ Market make a BLT a thing of beauty. I think I’ve already had a half dozen this season. I tweak a couple things that I believe elevate the sandwich in a good direction.
BLT with Avocado and Herb Mayo
For the mayo:
- 1 cup mayonnaise (see comments below)
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 clove garlic smashed and minced fine (optional)
You can use any herbs you like. I use fresh Italian parsley, thyme and basil all minced together. Place all ingredients in small jar or plastic container, mix well and put the lid on and set aside. You will have extra, but it will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge. Duke’s is my preferred brand of mayo, but if you want a real treat use Kewpie mayo that can be found in the Asian stores or a few grocery stores carry it as well. Kewpie mayo is Japanese and has a few extra ingredients that give it a nice tang. Whatever the ingredients are it makes it really expensive, but well worth it for the extra flavor.
For the sandwich:
- 2 slices of good bread
- Mayonnaise or softened butter
- 3 to 4 slices of bacon
- 2 to 3 Bibb lettuce leaves
- 2 slices of large, ripe tomato
- 1/2 small avocado, sliced
- pinch of salt and pepper
Most BLTs are served on toast, but grilled bread is the way to go. Spread some butter on one side of each slice of bread. Use mayo if you want a crisper slice and put the buttered (or mayo) side down in a skillet over medium. Heat until golden and then set aside – do not toast other side. Add your bacon to the skillet and cook to desired crispness. I like my bacon chewy, but crispy bacon for a BLT is preferred. For assembly you can layer any way you like. I spread some herb mayo on each slice of bread (untoasted side) then I lay lettuce leaves and tomato on one slice. Sprinkle just a little salt and pepper on the tomato, then add bacon and avocado slices, top with remaining bread. Cut in half (optional) and enjoy your sandwich!
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.