I’m searching for ways to use my ripe tomatoes that I purchased from a local farmer’s produce stand. One of my favorite ways is to make a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich. I love this sandwich made with a juicy ripe tomato and a few pieces of bacon. And in the process of researching BLT sandwiches, I learned a little trivia about sandwich bread.
BLT sandwiches bring back many memories of the hot summertime. We didn’t have air conditioning when I was growing up. The weather in Virginia in the summer could become very hot and a simple meal of this sandwich and soup was a welcome way to keep cool. A long time ago — at least it seems that way — we didn’t worry so much about the nutritional of bacon. Not the healthiest food to eat; so these days I don’t eat the sandwiches very often. But I’m in the mood for one now.
Traditional BLT Sandwich
Of course, you can make a BLT Sandwich any way you like. However, if you really want to be proper, there’s a very traditional way to make a BLT sandwich according to my browsing on the internet. And my goal today is to make a sandwich “the right way” without substituting ingredients.
You need a vine ripe tomato. These are ones I purchased at the road side stand. They still needed a few days to ripen on my kitchen counter until they became ripe and juicy.
The proper lettuce to use on a BLT sandwich is iceberg lettuce. It is crisp and crunchy; no other lettuce comes close.For bacon, really any type is okay. I like smoked bacon and a thicker cut. Fry on the stove and then drain well, or for large quantities, bake the bacon in a 350 degree oven on a rack over a tray until the bacon is crisp; watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
What is Pullman Bread
The proper bread to use on a BLT Sandwich is Pullman bread. And what is Pullman bread? It is simply sandwich bread which is square. Most folks probably recognize the giant “Bunny” loaves or Sunbeam loaves which are standards sold in grocery and convenience stores. In the foreground is “Texas Toast” which has a thicker cut. These white breads are very soft and not high in nutritional value, but they are square. A homemade or dense whole wheat bread would really make for a tasty and healthy sandwich This would make a trip to a specialty bakery worthwhile. But square whole wheat bread that is dense? Perhaps bake it at home using one of these Pullman bread pans. That’s another blog post.Pullman bread was named after Pullman sleeper coaches on US passenger railroad trains from 1867 to 1968. Pullman sleeper cars were the ingenuity of George Pullman and he had a monopoly on both the manufacture and operation of the cars. Interestingly, after George Pullman passed away, Abraham Lincoln’s son ran the company.
In Europe, Pullman cars were dining cars. The bread was baked in a rectangular pan with a flat top for space savings on the crowded kitchens in trains. Three loaves could be baked in the space of two traditional loaves. Hence, the name Pullman loaf.
So a Pullman bread slices or sandwich bread slices are used to make BLT sandwiches because the bread is square. And the pieces must be toasted on a BLT sandwich.
Assemble the BLT Sandwich
Assemble the BLT sandwich, using toasted Pullman bread, add some mayonnaise and then the bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. I wouldn’t cut it in half — everything falls apart. But it was easier to photograph. Enjoy! And I eat the rest of the tomato and lettuce as a salad!
Classic BLT Sandwich
- 4 slices of thick smoked bacon
- 4 slices dense Pullman bread (or square sandwich bread)
- several leaves of Iceberg lettuce
- large ripe tomato
Method and Steps:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Set individual bacon slices on a rack on a baking sheet. Bake about 10 – 15 minutes until crisp, turning once during baking. Watch carefully, once the bacon browns, it quickly burns. Remove and drain bacon on paper towels.
- Toast the Pullman bread.
- Wash and separate several leaves of Iceberg lettuce, drain well.
- Slice the tomato into medium slices, about six slices per medium tomato.
- Assemble the sandwich. Coat the toasted bread with mayonnaise, layer on the lettuce, tomato and two pieces of bacon, cut in halves.
- Eat the rest of the tomato and lettuce as a salad.
If you want to try another idea. Try peeling the tomato and discarding the skin. Then slicing the tomato and putting it on white bread with mayo. Pinch of salt. I never had this until I first met my wife’s family in Mississippi. So good. I like it with a good amount of mayo but some like it lighter.
A tomato sandwich. Yes, this is delicious, too!