How to improve the perfect sandwich
By: By J.M. HIRSCH AP Food Editor
Tinker with perfection? What the heck.
Some would argue the BLT is a perfect triumvirate unsuited to tweaking. Some might say a little enhancement never hurts.
In Jonathan Waxman’s recent cookbook, “A Great American Cook,” Waxman sautes shrimp in the rendered fat of the cooked bacon, then slaps them on the sandwich.
Some other tweaks to try:
• Thick slices of avocado. Sure, you’ve already got a healthy dose of fat from the bacon and the mayonnaise, but avocados contain healthy fats. And the creamy, rich texture is the perfect foil for the bacon.
• Cheese. Why isn’t this standard? This one doesn’t get the “healthy fat” pass, but cheese just goes so well with bacon, it should be mandatory. Muenster, cheddar and provolone are the obvious choices.
• Thinly sliced apple. Like the avocado, this works on contrasts. You’ve got the salty, crispy bacon. Top that with sweet, crispy apple for an ideal duo. Even better, salt the apple slices first (it heightens the sweetness).
• Give me the benefit of the doubt on this one. Really hot, really salty, really crispy french fries. Just do it.
• Sweet mango chutney. This is especially good if you’re also going to add the cheese.
Start to finish: 25 minutes
12 slices thick-cut bacon
2 pounds medium shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), unpeeled
12 slices sourdough bread
1 cup mayonnaise
6 leaves butter lettuce
In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat, cook the bacon slowly until crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet (leaving any fat in the skillet) and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning once, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp, let cool and peel.
Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt.
Lightly toast the bread. Spread mayonnaise on one side of each slice. Place a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, and 2 slices of bacon on 6 slices of the toast. Top with the shrimp, dividing them equally, and then with the remaining toasts.
Cut diagonally in half and serve.
(Recipe from Jonathan Waxman’s “A Great American Cook,” Houghton Mifflin, 2007, $35)
Editor’s note: J.M. Hirsch can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
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