BLT — aka bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and an icon of the American lunch counter for ages. Toasted white bread, mayonnaise, crisply cooked bacon, crisp lettuce (probably iceberg) and sliced tomato. It may appear cut diagonally once or twice but always with a toothpick securing each section together. Accompaniments on the plate would most likely be sliced pickles and potato chips.
Who hasn’t gone gaga over a BLT? What’s not to like? Bacon seems to be approaching divinity these days (who could argue that its taste is not heavenly?) and lettuce, a steadfast supporting ingredient for many foodstuffs from salads to sandwiches. And lastly, the tomato! Need I wax lyrical about the tomato, assuming we’re addressing a properly brought-up tomato that has done its time on the vine in the appropriate season of the year and is capable of providing a smashing hit of tomato flavor?
The Romans were familiar with the bread, bacon and lettuce part of this famous quartet—even with the toasting of bread—but they would have to wait centuries before the Spaniards could deliver the tomatoes.
Most will agree that a lovingly constructed BLT is a masterpiece and deserving of “Classic” status in the sandwich hall of fame.
Now, let’s take its elements and meld it with another culinary classic — eggs Benedict!
Behold — A BLT Eggs Benedict with Basil Hollandaise. A hunky slice of virile tomato sitting on a base of toasted bread then covered with fresh, crisp lettuce and B-E-A-U-tifully cooked thick slices of smoked bacon — all serving as a well-made bed for deep-fried poached eggs and a covering of fragrant, basil-imbued Hollandaise.
BLT Eggs Benedict with Basil Hollandaise
Makes 2 large or 4 moderate servings.
This dish will benefit from the quality of the tomatoes available and is most enjoyable during the tomato-growing season where you live. The individual components that require cooking can be done separately and assembled at the end. Please, don’t let the length of this recipe intimidate you. There are four separate cooking steps, three if you opt out of deep-frying the poached eggs.
- Poaching eggs – practice will make perfect here. Because they are fragile, I always poach 1 or 2 extras just in case one breaks.
- Plain poached eggs can be held in an ice water bath for as long as 3 days in a refrigerator. They may then be reheated in boiling water for about 20-30 seconds, or deep-fried as we are doing here.
- Frying bacon – easy-peasy as long as you cook it slow to the desired crispness.
- Blender Hollandaise – Julia Child endorsed this method as being “within the capabilities of an eight-year-old child.”
- Hollandaise can be kept warm in a thermos for quite a while or in a covered double boiler set over simmering water.
- The deep-frying of the poached eggs must be done last, though. (Of course this dish would be wonderful without their deep-fried exterior; just re-heat each plain poached egg as explained in point #2.
- You’re not bound to the order of preparation here.
- 4 large eggs, broken into 4 individual tea cups
- 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml. ) salt
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml.) white vinegar
- Fill a large sauté or frying pan (12-inch or 30 cm.) with water almost to the rim and bring to a slow boil.
- Stir in the salt and white vinegar.
- Put one of your index fingers through the handles of two of the four tea cups so you can maneuver them together. Repeat with the other index finger.
- Carefully lower the cups into the water, tipping until the water comes to the lips of the cups, and release the eggs into the water.
- Cover the pan, remove from the heat and let sit for 3-3½ minutes for loose yolks or up to 4-4½ minutes for firmer yolks.
- Remove with a slotted spoon to an ice-water bath if not using immediately.
Blender Basil Hollandaise:
- 6 egg yolks
- 2-4 large basil leaves, chopped
- 4-5 teaspoons (20-25 ml.) lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml.) salt
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml.) fresh ground white pepper
- ½ pound (227 gr.) butter, unsalted
- Separate the yolks from the whites and add the yolks along with the next four ingredients to a blender and blend at high speed for about 2 minutes. (Reserve the whites for another use.)
- Melt the butter, then, with the blender running, add slowly to the other ingredients, leaving any milk solids behind.
- Pour the sauce into a thermos or double boiler to hold until assembly.
- 6 slices smoked bacon, thick-cut, fried to your liking.
- 4 slices bread, toasted and cut in circles slightly larger than the circumference of the tomatoes
- 2 jumbo ripe tomatoes, sliced very thick
- Lettuce, washed, dried and trimmed as for a sandwich
- 2-3 fresh basil leaves cut chiffonade style for garnish
Deep-fry the poached eggs: (Optional)
- Peanut oil for frying
- 1 cup (240 ml.) all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup (240 ml.) panko bread crumbs
- Pour enough peanut oil to come up about 1½ inches (3.8 cm.) in a heavy frying pan and heat to 375 °F (190 °C).
- Carefully remove one of the poached eggs to a paper towel-lined plate and gently dab with another paper towel to remove any remaining water.
- Place the egg in the flour and coat completely.
- Place in the beaten egg and coat completely.
- Place in the panko and coat completely, then place on a plate.
- Repeat with the remaining 3 poached eggs.
- Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower two of the battered eggs into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 15-20 seconds.
- Remove to a plate.
- When the oil returns to the starting temperature, repeat with the remaining eggs.
- Place two rounds of toast on each of two serving plates.*
- Top each one with a slice of tomato.
- Place lettuce attractively over tomato.
- Continue with bacon, breaking into smaller pieces as necessary.
- Place an egg on top and ladle or pour Hollandaise over.
- Garnish with fresh basil cut into chiffonade and serve.
* Traditional Eggs Benedict are usually served in pairs. I find these BLT versions hefty enough to serve singly. Your choice.
A lighter sauce could be adapted from the poblano/cream sauce from this post. Replace the poblano chile with a few basil leaves.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities