Years ago I had a business trip to Boston to present a marketing program I developed for my former employer. I was extremely nervous and I was glad when it was over –standing in front of a crowd in a conference room isn’t my exact idea of fun*. When it was done I couldn’t find a cocktail fast enough to sooth my frazzled nerves, and as a result I cannot remember where on earth they took me to dinner. Gosh, I don’t even remember who I was with. But even in the midst of my festive inebriation (I swear I’m not a drunk, I swear swear swear and I can quit anytime I mean it no really) I will always remember the appetizer I had on that chilly evening several years ago.
The appetizer came crashing into my lil pea brain recently when I read a post about chicken livers on Chicken Fried Gourmet’s website. My love of chicken livers knows no bounds, but I never think of cooking them as the feature of my meal. Besides, unless you grew up in the south or truly appreciate French food, you’re often met with a funny snarl or gimpse of disgust when you mention chicken livers. Too bad, so sad, I always say.
It’s really hard to improve on a BLT sandwich. It’s one of the few things that I consider perfect in this world: you have toast, bacon, lettuce and tomato. You try to find fault with that. See? You can’t. But take the everyday BLT, which you’re bound to find on any diner menu from here to the other coast, and add a few pieces of seasoned chicken livers and presto! A BLCT. Or is that CBLT? Or LBTC? Or … Ok, I’ll stop.
Like any good recipe, the key is using the absolute best ingredients you can find. Especially since the sandwich’s moniker specifically calls out the ingredients. Which makes me laugh. Why isn’t pot roast with winter root vegetables called a PRWRV? Like "Hi honey, how was your day? Would you like a PRWRV for dinner? Why are you looking at me like that? What’s wrong? Stop it. Oh, I’m freaking you out now? I AM? Oh that’s rich!" On second thought, I guess I answered my own question. But back to the sandwich.
I’m a stickler for bread. While fluffy, white slices are great for PB&Js – IF YOU’RE SIX! – you’ll be better off finding something rustic, something artisan. You could even make your own. I believe we all have that recipe by now. Toast it lightly, even brush with olive oil if you’d like.
I promise I’m not hatin’ on the old iceburg, but I am a huge fan of arugula (also known as rocket). In fact, it’s my favorite salad green. It’s spicy and peppery and gives a wonderful bite, and if you can’t find it you can always use watercress.
Thick slab bacon is key here. You want nice, flavorful, smoky pieces here, not wimpy tiny strips. What else is the mayo going to cling to?
I love making homemade mayo, but let’s face it, it takes a bit of time and committment, and I’m usually too busy trying to come up with acronyms for my food. You owe it to yourself to seek a good quality jarred version, and luckily there are plenty of specialty types out there. I am addicted to The Ojai Cook’s brand of mayos.
Chicken Livers are easy to prepare. Just sauté with a bit of oil for 8-10 minutes, season with salt and pepper, and slice. You could always dredge with flour before cooking, but I’m going for simple and quick here.
Ah, tomatoes. Ok, this really makes or breaks the sandwich. I’m going to stress a good quality tomato here. Make this with a mealy, pathetic, anemic tomato and you’ve just ruined the entire thing. I’m serious. Head to the farmer’s market, wait until late summer, do whatever it takes to get your hands on good tomatoes. They make all the difference in the world.
*Had I been in wig and heels, well, that’s different.