Upgrade your BLTs with a capital S (for salmon)

Adding salmon to a BLT is not a new idea, but I had never tried it at home . . . still shaking my head about this. Spun correctly, the excuse I could proffer is that I was just waiting for a worthy recipe. Or would you believe I did not want to attempt building such a sandwich without tall toothpicks?

This one has the benefit of being engineered by smart kitchen folk, namely cookbook authors Marge Perry and David Bonom. They call for thin fillets, rather than center-cut, to increase the likelihood you'll be able to wrap your yap around the multilayered sandwich. The fish goes into the pan after the bacon's been crisped, so it picks up the meaty and smoky flavors in the rendered fat.

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The food-savvy married couple also tart up canola mayonnaise with fresh basil and lemon zest, and they recommend cutting the bacon slices in half, which makes for easier eating. The sandwich spread hits the right notes here.

I make a habit of salting the tomato slices and letting them sit for a few minutes, a trick Sara Moulton relies on to make the tomatoes taste the best they can.

Toothpicks have been acquired.

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SALMON BLTS

25 minutes

4 servings

These are luxe sandwiches for the everyday world - rich-tasting fish, meaty bacon and doctored mayo.

Because you are likely to buy salmon fillets with the skin on (especially if they are frozen), see below for an easy way to remove the skin. Bonus: It can make a great snack, or crunchy addition to the sandwiches.

Serve with potato chips or roasted sweet potato wedges.

Ingredients

4 slices applewood-smoked bacon (uncooked)

8 slices whole-grain or country-style sourdough bread

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 large tomato, preferably beefsteak

1/2 lemon

4 large leaves fresh basil

1/3 cup mayonnaise, preferably canola

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more as needed

Four 6-ounce thin-cut salmon fillets, skinned (not center-cut)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Leaves from 1/4 head Boston/butter lettuce OR 1 packed cup baby arugula leaves

Steps

Preheat the oven or your toaster oven to 375 degrees. Line a large plate with paper towels. Cut each bacon slice crosswise in half. Place in a large skillet; cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, turning the slices over once, just until crisped. (You will probably have to do this in two batches.) Transfer them to a plate to drain, leaving the rendered bacon fat in the pan, and the pan still over medium heat.

Brush the bread slices lightly with oil (or you can use a little of the rendered bacon fat); toast directly on the middle oven rack, just until lightly browned. Cut 4 evenly thick slices from the tomato and season them lightly with salt, letting them drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, use a Microplane grater to zest 1 teaspoon's worth from the lemon half (no white pith), letting it fall into a medium bowl. Chop enough basil to yield 2 tablespoons and add it, along with the mayo and a generous few grinds of pepper, then whisk until well incorporated.

Skin the fillets, as needed. Season them with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Gently lay the fillets in the hot-oil skillet (so each one lands with a splash away from you), skinned sides up. Cook for about 5 minutes total, or until barely translucent in the center, turning them over halfway through the cooking.

Spread one side of all the toasted bread slices with the lemon-basil mayo. Next, build the sandwiches on four of spread sides, using ingredients in the following order: the lettuce or arugula, the tomato, salmon and a crisscross of 2 bacon pieces. Top with remaining toasted bread slices, spread sides down.

Cut each sandwich in half - toothpicks might come in handy to keep the halves neat and tidy, but warn your guests! - and serve right away.

NOTES: The frozen, wild-caught salmon fillets used in testing for this recipe came with the skins on. The skin is easy to remove while the fillets are well chilled or semi-frozen: Turn them skin sides up. Starting at one of the shorter cut sides, run the sharp edge of a chef's knife just under the skin until the flap of skin is at least halfway detached. Keep cutting, sliding the knife along, and cut the edge of it so it's completely detached.

To fry the skins, cut them into bite-size pieces. After your salmon fillets are cooked, toss in the salmon skin pieces, skinned sides down. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes; flip them over and they should look slightly browned on the edges and crisped. Drain on a rack set over paper towels. Season with flaky salt. Serve as a snack or add as another crispy element to these sandwiches.

Nutrition | Calories: 670; Total Fat: 36 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 110 mg; Sodium: 890 mg; Carbohydrates: 40 g; Dietary Fiber: 5 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 46 g.

(Adapted from "Hero Dinners: Complete One-Pan Meals That Save the Day," by Marge Perry and David Bonom, Wm Morrow, 2019.)

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