If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the BLT had better feel mighty flattered. That timeless stacking of smoky bacon, tangy tomato and crisp lettuce is beloved the world over. It’s also the perfect canvas for our “remixed and reimagined”-crazed palates, so let’s give a warm welcome to the B.E.A.T.
Who are these new vowel stand-ins, you wonder? The two new components in the BLT arena bring some big-muscle flavor to this meteoric mash-up. First up: avocado. He’s mean, he’s (sorta) lean, and he’s bringing the green. Who needs watered-down lettuce when you’ve got dreamy, creamy avocado between your slices?
Next up: eggplant. Sure, he’s a bit bland on his own, but with structural integrity for miles, this veritable sponge soaks up all the flavor he can get, thanks to a quick dip in a soy-based marinade. Able to take the heat of a white-hot grill without any special prep, eggplant delivers some seriously satisfying texture.
Ready your bets, folks! Can the B.E.A.T. go a few rounds with the reigning champ and live to tell about it? Leave us a comment and let us know your opinion.
B.E.A.T. (Bacon-Eggplant-Avocado-Tomato) Sandwiches
Total Time: 20 minutes
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
12 slices thick-cut bacon, about 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
A few dashes Sriracha
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 large beefsteak or heirloom tomato, sliced
8 slices sandwich bread, such as whole-wheat sourdough
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
4 to 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Preheat a grill to medium-high and grease the grate.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange bacon on the sheet. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes.
While bacon is cooking, whisk together soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, Sriracha, sugar and oil. Toss with the eggplant and marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes. Arrange eggplant on grill and cook until charred and tender, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes per side. As soon as the eggplant start cooking, gently toss the tomatoes in the remaining marinade. Marinate at room temperature for at least 5 minutes.
When the eggplant is almost ready, toast each slice of bread over the grill until golden brown.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread each slice of bread with some mayonnaise and layer on the bacon, cooked eggplant, marinated tomatoes and avocado. Serve.
COOK’S NOTES: The “thick cut” bacon in the package is all well and good, but many deli counters have whole slabs of bacon in their case. To truly get the thickest of cuts, go see the deli peeps and have them cut it to your specs right before your eyes.
This recipe is written with the bacon being cooked in the oven, and the eggplant and bread cooked on the grill. If you don’t have grill access, it would be just as good if you prepared everything on the stovetop.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works on digital production for FoodNetwork.com, CookingChannelTV.com and Food.com in NYC by day and develops recipes at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.