A “Fabulous” BLT

Leni Sorensen tells us how to make one of her favorite summer sandwiches, made with local, homemade ingredients.

Patricia Lyons

BLT Recipes – Living by Hand

Every summer, Leni Sorensen and her family look forward to the first BLT of the year. And they do it right: freshly harvested lettuce and sun-warm tomatoes from her garden, with local, organic, applewood-smoked bacon, on bread that Sorensen baked that morning, slathered liberally with mayonnaise that she’s whipped up using eggs laid by her own hens. “It’s better to have two BLTs all year than to have them all winter at some café,” says Sorensen. “Have them in season, when they’re just absolutely fabulous. And look forward to them, every year.”

Don’t stint on the mayo. Sorensen has thoughts on people who are chintzy with mayo.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Makes one quart.

Place the following in a blender:

1⁄2 cup oil (Sorensen uses olive oil)

2 eggs (the freshest, highest quality you can get)

“a big squirt of whatever nice mustard you like”

2 tablespoons of sugar (“You could use honey, I imagine, but I don’t.”)

2 teaspoons salt

Have the following ready:

2 cups oil—one cup olive oil combined with one cup “whatever” (canola, vegetable, safflower …), in a measuring cup or vessel with a pour spout

1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar

Whir the first five ingredients until blended, to begin the emulsification of the egg yolk and white and the oil, Sorensen explains. Next, with the blender on high, slowly drizzle in a cup of the oil. “When you’ve got a cup in, dump in the half-cup of vinegar,” she says. “It’ll get much looser, but it’ll still be thick.” Then drizzle in the remaining oil—slowly, Sorensen cautions; if the mayonnaise “breaks,” or curdles, “it’s hard to gather it up again.” (Never fear, though: “If that does happen, throw in five cloves of garlic, and you’ve got the best salad or cole slaw dressing—it’s just like vinaigrette, except with egg.”)

Once all oil is incorporated, stir it down with a chopstick or other utensil that can reach all the way down and move the blender blades a little. Fill into one quart or two pint jars, and let them sit on the counter for an hour before refrigerating, to allow the vinegar to interact with the egg albumen. Sorensen credits TV chef Alton Brown with this wisdom: “It really makes a difference in how it sets up when it does go in the refrigerator.”

*Applewood-smoked bacon from The Organic Butcher of Charlottesville.

—More at VirginiaLiving.com/Recipes

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