Monday, August 26, 2013
BLT with Cayenne-Garlic Mayonnaise
My sister and I talked about the garden for 45 minutes yesterday. We talked about her garden, then my garden, then her garden some more. We shared ideas about how we are handling our individual crop excess and how, once again, I truly need a bigger freezer. Her collards are going gangbusters, my corn is off the hook. Her potatoes did diddly squat while my onions are the most pathetic things I've ever seen. And why in a row of basil is the middle section completely empty while the end plants are huge and robust?
It is an exceptional time of year when our biggest worries are what we are going to do with all those tomatoes! And when we can carry on (for 45 minutes no less) about all the goings on in our garden. We both love to garden. Our mother (well, her mother, my step-mom technically) is an amazing gardener, more of a horticulturist really. Not professionally—well, she used to do it professionally but not anymore—anyway her yard is beautiful. Ask anyone that knows her and they will undoubtedly say, 'oh, her yard... her yard' in a manner that exudes envy. My sister and I tend to stick to the plants we can eat, but I always felt we both got that deep urge to plant something then watch it flourish from her.
We also got the BLT gene (biologically or not). Summer in our house meant corn on the cob and BLTs at least once a week from the end of July to the middle of September. While discussing freezer-less options for my sweet corn bounty I told my sister I was thinking about inviting all our friends over and having a corn feed to which she instinctively said 'yeah, and BLTs' which made me smile because I too was thinking the exact same thing.
There was nothing fancy about our BLTs back then. Sliced wheat bread, low-fat mayo, Hormel bacon, iceberg lettuce, but always stellar tomatoes.....peeled..... I'm still not sure why. These days I like my BLTs a little gussied up. I buy house-cured bacon from the meat market, make my own bread, still only use stellar tomatoes....not peeled. But what really makes this sandwich is the mayo. It is spicy, herby, with just the right amount of garlic to balance the smoke of the bacon and the tart of the tomato. I have four cayenne pepper plants in the garden and have been adding them to everything, but dried cayenne chile powder would also work just fine here.
I like to chop everything all together making a mince so fine it is almost a paste then stir that into the mayonnaise creating a luscious base which adds a fiery streak to this classic sandwich.
BLT with Cayenne-Garlic Mayonnaise
Makes 4 sandwiches
For the sandwich:
12 slices thick-cut bacon
1 large perfectly ripe tomato
1/2 head tender leaf lettuce, such as butter lettuce, red leaf, or romaine
8 slices levain or other whole grain bread
For the mayonnaise:
1 fresh cayenne pepper or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne chile powder
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
pinch coarse salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Place bacon in a single layer in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook until crisp. (You might need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan.) Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Meanwhile, core the tomato and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices. Wash and throughly dry lettuce leaves and toast the bread.
Remove the stem from the chile and thinly slice. Thinly slice the garlic clove and place on top of the sliced chile on the cutting board. Place cilantro leaves on top along with the salt and chop everything all together until everything is minced. Transfer to a bowl and stir in mayonnaise.
You can serve everything separate for people to make their own sandwiches as they please or assemble the sandwiches yourself by spreading a generous amount of mayonnaise on each slice of bread then topping with lettuce, tomato, and bacon. Cut in half and serve.