The BLT is a fine and delicious sandwich. However, if you want to elevate it, going the way of the brie-L-T makes all the sense in the world. Crusty bread, a slathering of tomato jam, crispy smoky bacon, peppery arugula, creamy brie and just a touch of red onion for bite; it’s a snack fit for enjoying life’s simple delicious pleasures.
I’ll admit, I didn’t concoct this idea myself. We just happened to be eating in St. Louis via the Savor St. Louis Food Tours where we stopped in at Cafe Osage . Like most recipes nowadays, you start with a good idea. From there you tailor it to make your own, and of course, even more delicious! Cafe Osage started with all local ingredients, so I too thought I would start with local and organic ingredients. From there we go…
Since the first layer was to be bread, I started off with a variety of loaves to see which one held up. Of course you can choose whatever works best for your dietary requirements. My favorites just happened to be a gluten free multigrain bread from Wegmans, and a locally sourced multigrain bread. I liked the nuttiness of a multi grain bread to contribute to the overall flavor profile of this. While toasting the bread warranted okay results, I found that fan frying (similar to what you’d do for grilled cheese) tasted the best and held up it’s rigidity.
The bacon was seriously a surprising element. I wrongly thought just any old bacon would do, I should know better. My front runner was an organic applewood smoked bacon from Wegmans. The taste on this alone was unbelievable, so of course it enhanced the end product greatly.
The brie element made a major difference. While Cafe Osage chose to put toast, bacon and brie into the oven to get melty brie, they used a brie that didn’t really taste like a whole lot. Actually, most people who don’t like brie assume all brie’s have that bland taste which is really not the case. If you enjoy mushrooms, then a good intense earthy brie would work really well here. My favorite choice again was a Wegmans product, this time I chose their milky brie which had to be super ripe. The intense creaminess complimented the sandwiches well and added some saltiness to the dish. I preferred just using my brie at room temperature and then slicing it and putting it on the sandwich. You could always do what Cafe Osage did and bake it till the brie was nice and melty.
The lettuce component didn’t require too much thought. I love arugula and the peppery bite added a nice contrast to the other elements. While I tried spinach and mixed greens, they just simply didn’t have what the sandwich required.
The tomato part of the dish was where I chose to incorporate my own homemade tomato jam. Regular tomatoes from the garden didn’t provide enough of an intense sweetness which the dish was missing. Conventional tomato jam went out of style quite a few years ago. It’s a condiment that really should replace ketchup in my opinion as it’s so much more versatile.
The recipe below came from The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant with Kate Leahy. It’s a brilliant book for home canners with elegant recipes that cater to a lot of palates. They give you ideas in which to use your specific canned goods in a variety of ways. While I have a few tricks to enhance their recipe, the basic one will give you amazing results to yield many months of brie-L-T, so start there and make it your own!
- 5 pounds of tomatoes, preferably Romas or San Marzano
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cups of Sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of white wine
- Core tomatoes and score the ends with an X. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, blanch tomatoes for one minute. Transfer to an ice bath and cool completely. Remove from water and discard the skins. Remove the tomato seeds over a bowl fitted with a fine mesh sieve. Discard the seeds. Roughly chop the tomato flesh and combine with the tomato juice. Set aside.
- In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Stir in the onion with the salt and pepper. Cook until the onion begins to brown, then stir in the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour in the wine and cook over medium heat until the pot is nearly dry, about 15 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and the juice, simmer until the tomatoes had softened and the juice reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit or until the jam is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes.
- Recipe will make 3-4 pints of canned jam, processing time is ten minutes. If you won't be canning, store in mason jars in the fridge once cooled.
- Serve alongside cheese platters or slather on your favorite sandwich.
And with that, you have the most awesome sandwich to utilize great local ingredients. But don’t trust me, try it yourself. You almost certainly won’t be disappointed!
To full plates and eating your tarte out,
- 5 slices of multigrain bread
- 1 package of organic bacon
- 1 half pint (1 cup) of tomato jam or preserves
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- About 6 ounces of milky or intense brie, room temperature
- 2 cups of baby arugula
- Olive Oil
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Cut bread slices into halves so you have ten pieces. Lightly coat with olive oil on both sides. Heat on skillet until browned on both sides. Remove and place onto a wire rack.
- In another skillet, heat on medium high heat. Cut the bacon slices in half and cook until crisp. Place onto plate with paper towels to soak up excess grease.
- On each toast slice, slather a tablespoon of tomato jam onto them. Place a few slices of red onion on top of jam. Cut your brie into ten similar sized pieces. Place then onto the red onion. Affix two slices of bacon onto each helping of brie. Pile on arugula evenly and dig in!
- If you cannot find tomato jam or don't have time to make it, consider marmalade in lieu of the tomato jam.