In one sandwich lies the formula for infinite deliciousness. Try these five recipes for riffs on the classic, swapping out the bacon, lettuce and tomato for new combinations that are both surprising and satisfying
EVEN IF YOU DON’T KNOW the first thing about playing an instrument, you’re probably intuitively familiar with the I, IV, V chord progression. It is the basis of countless pop, rock, blues and country songs—everything from “Let It Be” and “Wild Thing” to John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom,” and even “Home on the Range.” The progression is made great not by any particular notes, but rather by how they relate to each other, and how well they take to embellishment.
Think of the BLT as the I, IV, V progression of food—basic and familiar, yet incredibly flexible. The magic of the sandwich is not so much in the specific ingredients as in how they complement one another: the bright, sweet tang and squish of tomato balanced by the salty crunch of bacon; the fresh, vegetal quality of lettuce, which throws both bacon and tomato into relief. Roasted red pepper, arugula and guanciale is really just a BLT set in a different key.
A whole new repertoire of sandwiches is at your fingertips once you understand the interplay between the elements. You can riff infinitely, swapping in new combinations of ingredients—a skill that will be especially useful this summer, since an unseasonably cool, damp spring will surely push prime tomato season back.
FOR BACON, SWAP IN: merguez / gribenes / eggplant ‘bacon’ / pork rinds / seared cauliflower
FOR ICEBERG LETTUCE, SWAP IN: Boston lettuce / sorrel / arugula / kimchi
FOR TOMATO, SWAP IN: butternut squash / beets / roasted red pepper / rhubarb / pickled raisins
PKR (Pork-Rind, Kimchi and Rhubarb)
Kevin Nashan uses rhubarb mayo and kimchi to conjure the sweetness and earthiness of tomato.
Total Time: 15 minutes Serves: 2
Make rhubarb mayonnaise: In a food processor or blender, purée 1 stalk rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch sections, 1½ teaspoons sorghum syrup or molasses, 1½ teaspoons Chipotle Tabasco sauce, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup mayonnaise until smooth.
Assemble sandwich: Spread 4 slices untoasted white bread with rhubarb mayo. Divide ½ cup kimchi, julienned, 1 bunch watercress and 1½ cups pork rinds between half of bread slices, then top with remaining slices.