Today is Labor Day, a federal holiday here in the United States, in honor of the labor movement and the vast contributions of working people to our country. Unless you’re a union member with a parade and picnic planned, the holiday tends to be an enjoyable day off work and school, perhaps near a body of water, sighing over how fast the summer is fading.
In our house, we eat BLTs.
Even in a household containing vegetarians, a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich is the perfect dish. It’s easy to leave out any element that offends, and you are still left with the other equally delicious components. A plain tomato sandwich, in the height of summer, does not need one more thing. We’ve even had guests around our BLT table who do not eat the B or the T. (One solution: avocado. Another: mozzarella.)
BLTs can go low, or they can go high, yet like the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, they’re always able to make it in the USA. I have enjoyed many a diner BLT made with floppy, oversalted bacon and watery iceberg lettuce on Wonder bread toast, with a scant dollop of mayo staring up at me from a paper condiment cup. They were absolutely delicious.
I have also made the Union Square Cafe Cookbook luxe version, with thick slices of peppered bacon, pedigreed tomatoes (the noble Black Krim, the roguish Mister Stripey), and sourdough bread that was kneaded on old-growth oak. The result: also mighty fine eating. In fact, legendary.
I like to make BLTs on Labor Day weekend, as a farewell to summer. If there are more than a handful of people to feed, it’s a hero’s journey to fry all that bacon and assemble the many platters of the other ingredients. And don’t get me started on the toasting! The toasting takes forever, unless you want to turn on the oven and heat up the whole kitchen. But it’s so worth it. Everybody is happy building their own stack of summery bits. Your first course: a BLT. Second course: half a BLT. Dessert: the juice left on the tomato platter.
Advanced Placement BLTs
Are you looking for an extra-credit version of the BLT? Would you like to be able to serve BLTs to a group with only one platter? This is America, home of root-beer-float-flavored Peeps. We have the technology!
People who know of my penchant for BLT-ification have sent me these two recipes.
Watch Amanda Hesser make it at home here.
I haven’t tried them yet, but these are reliable sources. If you make one of them, please let me know how it goes, and I will do the same. You can cook with confidence: BLT ingredients can stand up to the most creative recipe tweaking.
Happy Labor Day, all! If you love the ILGWU anthem, please join me in rocking out to Natalie Douglas’s “Look for the Union Label/If I Had a Hammer” mashup.