Before we dated, my wife and I were friends and labmates for several years. One day after work, we grabbed a couple burgers together at a fastfood place. Part way through the meal, she looked off into space, and looked like she was having a spiritual moment. A faint smile crossed her lips.
"What are you thinking about?" I asked.
"Have you ever had a bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich?"
"Yes," I responded.
"Yeah." She smiled. She had been thinking about a BLT. That was all.
So when Michael Ruhlman announced a BLT challenge, of course I had to take part. The BLT needs no interpretation. It is perfect as is. Here is my BLT.
The weekend I chose to make the BLT was crazy hot here in southern California, so I decided to do it all outside. We start with a grilled ciabatta. Mine is a version of the ciabatta from The Bread Bible, my go-to book for bread. We start with a biga, or a pre-rise. Mix:
5.2 oz all purpose flour1⁄8 tsp yeast1 tsp malt powder½ cup water
Mix these first thing in the morning, cover and let them rise for 6ish hours. At the end of that, add:
9.5 oz unbleached all-purpose flour½ tsp instant yeast1 tsp salt1 cup waterbiga from above
Then beat for a few seconds on low in a KitchenAid mixer for a few seconds on low, raise to #6 (highish) on the KitchenAid for 3 minutes followed by 2 minutes on #4 (mediumish). Add flour, if necessary, to dry out the dough slightly, and pull it off the sides of the bowl. Stop once it pulls off the sides.
Now allow it to rise for 2ish hours in a bowl oiled with olive oil until it triples in size. (On this particular hot day, it didn't take that long).
Now remove that ball of dough from the bowl, and toss it onto a cookie sheet that has been lightly floured. Poke holes in the bottom of the dough, flip it over and fold the edges underneath. Sprinkle with flour, and let rise for 2ish hours.
An hour before the dough is done rising, fire up the grill. I put a fire on one side, and a pizza stone and small pan on the other side. I made a screaming hot fire with briquettes, rather than charcoal, because bread needs to be baked hot. Like 450ish.
When the grill is hot, toss some wet hickory on there, and put the cookie sheet with the bread dough onto the pizza grill. Spritz the top of the dough with water, and toss a few ice cubes in the small pan. You want a brief bit of humidity in there to crust up the bread. Bake until a lovely color, opening as little as possible. For me it took about 30 minutes.
Let cool. Now throw a grill over the fire, and toss a cast-iron pan over the fire, and fry up some bacon.
Yum. I used bacon that I wrote about earlier.
Now we sliced the bread along the cross section to make nice-sized sandwiches. The tomatoes came from several heirloom varieties grown in pots in our backyard. Alas, the lettuce came from the store. The mayonnaise, described in a previous post.
And we each assembled our own sandwiches. All done outside, smokey, sweet and delicious. A nice way to have a fantastic meal on a hot summer day.