Okay, maybe that’s an oxymoron! I mean, can a BLT really get ANY better that the original bacon, lettuce, tomato on white bread with mayo variety?
I say, perhaps it can…at least for me.
It was literally only a couple of years ago that I finally got over my aversion to mayonnaise long enough to have a BLT with a teensy bit of that white stuff on it, and I actually enjoyed it. And that’s still the way I usually have it…tried and true. Until now.
You see, during a last minute short trip this past weekend to visit my mom, I bought some truly amazing raisin bread in a place called the Dutch Oven Bakery in Falkville, Alabama, and it was a game changer.
First a bit about this bread…this is a lovely loaf of perfectly composed and crumbed goodness. Seriously, this stuff might be the push I need to try my hand at making my own bread! It had a perfect tooth and density to it, just like a loaf of homemade white bread. Not sweet—only a slight essence of sweetness with a bare hint of cinnamon in the background and very few raisins, just enough to impart a richness, almost like using a whole grain. It was the best raisin bread I’ve ever had. And, it got me thinking about what great sandwiches it would make.
And I don’t mean sweet sandwiches, I mean that amazing thing that happens when sweet and a savory come together and hold hands. Like pork and figs, blackberries and trout, currants and sausage, peas and carrots….no, wait, that’s something else.
My first try of a classic sandwich made on raisin bread instead of white was a pimento cheese sandwich featuring my mom’s famous homemade pimento cheese (more on that at another time). Really, really good.
And then last night, I concocted the pièce de résistance…a BLT on raisin bread. But none of that traditional mayo on this baby, no way. First I used fresh basil from a pot on my deck and made my homemade pesto which you can see here, using it in place of the mayo, bringing in an herbaceous quality to play off the raisins and cinnamon. Then, thumbing my nose at tradition again, I substituted arugula for the lettuce. I had some Pine Street Market Applewood Smoked Bacon (I’m really falling in love with this place) from those same fantastic folks that made the fennel and pinot noir sausage in my last post. This is a thick, handcrafted bacon that is just out of this world, and was perfect for my sandwich. And last but not least, I used tomatoes grown by our dear friend Lynn, aka the “Tomato Fairy,” who generously shares her glut of beautiful summer heirloom tomatoes with those of us who have unfortunate growing (shade) situations. Oh my, this was so good there are just no words to describe it.
But I’ll try. Toasted, lightly crumbed raisin bread, spread with fresh pesto using basil, walnuts, garlic and a bit of parmesan—perfectly marrying the herb and nutty flavors with the sweet perfume of cinnamon and the hint of raisin. Then the addition of a thin layer of baby arugula right next to the pesto for a peppery, slightly bitter component. Top that arugula with slices of ripe, fresh picked, sweet tomato, dripping its luscious red juice and flavoring the sandwich through and through, providing the needed balance of acidity. Then a layer of thick and crispy cooked bacon (2-3 slices will do nicely), slightly salty and full of the smoky essence of applewood that just can’t be duplicated any other way. And last, top the whole shebang with another slice of raisin toast slathered with some more pesto to seal the deal. Grab hold of the whole, squeeze slightly to meld the harmony of all those flavors into one, and enjoy the perfect…ecstatic, bite. Umami. Mmmmmm.
Heaven on Earth must surely involve a BLT in the summertime!
Now I’m wondering why I haven’t used raisin bread for sandwiches before, other than a PB&J? My mind races with the possibilities…prosciutto, goat cheese, jam and arugula, or chicken, avocado, blue cheese and bacon…and of course my curried chicken salad or even an egg salad? The options seem endless.
Of course, if you don’t like raisins or raisin bread, you could use the same combo on white or wheat bread with pesto for an outstanding variation on the classic BLT. But right now, I have more bacon already cooked, and tomato, pesto, arugula and the last of the raisin bread awaiting me in the kitchen…and I think lunch is calling me!