It’s confession time. Along with all my other food obsessions, I can now add sandwiches, in every way, shape and form to that list. I’m not talking about a cheese sandwich on ‘plastic’ bread or a regular peanut butter & syrup sandwich, I’m talking about good quality breads topped with simple but great ingredients cooked/prepared with love and attention. It’s almost impossible to go wrong when you follow those guidelines.
Another confession, I never liked BLT sandwiches. They were always sub-standard and almost bland, the bacon being the only component to add any flavour. I felt the tomatoes washed out all the flavour and so steered clear of them since about 4 years ago. That was until I saw some dry-cured smoked streaky bacon from Woolworths last week and wanted to do something really special with it. The first and only idea I had was to make a BLT but I needed to amp it up.
I wanted to condense the tomato flavour and thought of making a really rich, chunky and thick tomato sauce but didn’t want this to make the sandwich too soggy or messy to eat. I then thought of roasting the tomatoes with garlic and thyme as I did this last year for a tart and the flavour was beautiful and intensely tomatoey. And this morning when I put “BLT” into Pinterest to see what it would bring up, what do I find? One of my recent food blog addictions, Not Without Salt did something very similar last year, roasted tomatoes and all. Great minds think alike I think!
The key to making a really great BLT is to make sure that the ingredients you use are of the best quality you can afford/find. Using so-so bacon, bland tomatoes, below par lettuce and regular bread is just not going to deliver the type of sandwich you are after. I decided to stick to using good ‘ol Iceberg lettuce as I like the unobtrusive flavour and nice crunch it adds. As far as the bread goes, I had some sourdough and decided to lightly toast it but you could use ciabatta or baguette as well. And then to finish it all off, I made a smoked chilli aioli as I feel it’s important to have some kind of mayo on the sandwich. You could also just add some crushed garlic and chopped chillies to good quality shop-bought mayo but making your own is of course, so much better!
Makes 2 large sandwiches
for the roasted tomatoes
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/2cm sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
for the smoked chilli aioli (this quantity makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of aioli, keep the left overs in a airtight container in the fridge for up to a week)
3 extra large free range egg yolks
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp each smoked and hot paprika
1/2 tsp crushed smoked chilli
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
250ml canola oil
to assemble the sandwich
250g smoked, streaky bacon, cooked to your preference (I like to grill it in the oven)
3 slices sourdough, lightly toasted in the oven
ice berg lettuce
- Pre-heat the oven to 150°c and line a roasting tray with baking paper.
- Place the sliced tomatoes on the baking paper, add the garlic, thyme and season with salt & pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and place in the oven.
- Allow the tomatoes to cook for 45 minutes to an hour until they are starting to look slightly dried out and the edges start to caramelise.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
- To make the smoked chilli aioli, place the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, paprika, smoked chilli, sugar and salt in a blender and blend for 30 seconds until well combined.
- Whilst blending, slowly pour the oil in a thin stream until half of the oil has been incorporated. The remaining oil can be poured in a little quicker as the mixture has already been emulsified at this stage. If your aioli seems very thick you can add a few tbsp of water to thin it out, just make sure that you blend it well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Scoop the aioli into a bowl and set aside.
- To assemble the sandwich, dollop a generous amount of aioli onto 2 slices of toasted sourdough and spread to cover the bread.
- Place a few leaves of Iceberg lettuce on top of the aioli followed by roasted tomatoes and cooked bacon.
- Place the remaining slices of bread on top and cut in half.
- Serve immediately.