I’ve never made a traditional BLT. I’ve never had the urge because I don’t think I’ve ever purposefully ordered tomatoes on a sandwich or burger. I told my mother when I was about four that “pamatoes” were nasty and I meant it with all of my little heart. Now I rather like them, but I still don’t order them on sandwiches. Then yesterday I was outside looking at my garden and my beautiful new Fall lettuces, and I started having daydreams about a roasted tomato BLT with thick slices of bacon and a big bed of fresh lettuce. I am loving my little salad garden. It is simple to grow and there is no comparison whatsoever between lettuce from the grocery store, and lettuce picked within minutes of being used in a salad or on a sandwich.
So, here we are with another installment of what I eat when I have only myself to please.
The base of this sandwich is tomato confit. My understanding of confit is that it is, traditionally speaking, a meat cooked slowly down to jam consistency in its own fat. Think duck confit…duck cooked down in duck fat. Vegetables don’t have their own fats, so other fats are used. In this case, I cooked the bacon first, then strained the bacon drippings and supplemented that with olive oil. The oil is drizzled on the tomato slices and they are roasted slowly for several hours.
I believe that many then jar them in olive oil and save them for a bit. I didn’t want them to continue to soften so I skipped the end process and kept them as they were when they emerged caramelized and beautiful from the oven. This recipe makes enough for four to five sandwiches. You can cook the tomatoes and bacon ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator if you wish. This would be one heck of a picnic or tailgaiting sandwich. I ate mine warm from the oven on toasted bread with a homemade garlic mayonnaise. Served thusly, it is a little sloppy and dripping with gorgeous roasted tomatoes. I think it is a dreamy sandwich.
I constantly strive to make up for my years of prejudice towards the tomato family. This is a bang up effort, if I do say so myself. If you are opposed to spending three hours (though inactive ones) roasting tomatoes for a sammie, just get wonderful tomatoes and have a traditional BLT. Or roast extra tomatoes and use them in a pasta dish or on hamburgers the next evening. You will find ideas popping into your head when you first try these deeply roasted beauties. They taste like sundried tomatoes but they are so fresh and wonderful.
I bought my tomatoes at Whole Foods and mixed the varieties based on what looked great. I chose two plump heirloom tomatoes, three Texas tomatoes on the vine, and three or four Romas. They all performed beautifully.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Position two oven racks in the center of the oven. Place the tomato slices on layers of parchment covering rimmed baking sheets. Combine ¼ cup of the bacon drippings and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Drizzle the oil mixture over the tomato slices, turning the slices in the oil so that both sides are covered. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the salt.
Roast the tomatoes, carefully turning them once, for three hours or until they are drying out and deep red. There will still be oil in the pan, but the surfaces of the tomatoes will be shrinking and drying. Remove them from the oven before they blacken in any way.
Allow the tomatoes to sit for approximately 20 minutes after they have been removed from the oven. Then they may be removed to a plate.
Combine the egg yolks, mustard, garlic, and lemon juice in the food processor. Process them until the mixture begins to thicken, about a minute. Do not proceed until the yolks begin to thicken or you will end up with soup. Once it is thickening, add the canola oil in a thin stream through the feed tube of the running processor. Start slowly. Then you can speed up the addition of the oil. Once the oil is totally incorporated, remove the mayonnaise to a bowl and season it with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Alternatively, you can just skip this whole process and add a little chopped garlic and Dijon to grocery store mayonnaise and combine it well.