I’ve said it before: I love sandwiches. Meat, or cheese, or egg (or all) plus some crisp vegetables or pickles and some kind of sauce between two slices of bread is a great way to start the day or afternoon if you ask me.
The classic BLT sandwich – named for the initials of its primary ingredients, bacon, lettuce and tomato – has been one of the most popular sandwiches since the early 1900s and it’s definitely one of my favourite sandwiches too. While a BLT’s essential ingredients are the aforementioned three, there are plenty of variations including avocado (BLTA), cheese (BLTC) or fried egg (BLTE). But can I suggest that the ‘B’ in BLT can also mean ‘belly’, as in thick pork belly slices seasoned with smoked paprika and baked in the oven until super crispy with soft rendered fat that melts in your mouth as you bite into it? You know it makes sense… but let’s just call it a PBLT sandwich, to avoid confusion.
As for the other ingredients: I use brioche sandwich bread since it’s nice and fluffy and slightly sweet, which I think goes great with the salty pork, but you can use any type of sandwich bread you like. For the ‘L’ in BLT, I’ve picked a simple iceberg lettuce for maximum crispiness, for the ‘T’ some super ripe sweet tomatoes (make sure your tomatoes are very flavourful and ripe, this can make or break the sandwich: I mean, some people claim a BLT is actually a tomato sandwich seasoned with bacon), and, last but not least, for the sauce I’ve made a piccalilli (mustard pickle) mayonnaise, which ensures your sandwich has a lovely creaminess as well as a refreshing hit of pickled goodness.
Tip: Instead of using an oven to crisp your pork belly, grilling it on a barbecue for a couple of minutes is even better!
PBLT / Pork Belly Lettuce Tomato Sandwich with Piccalilli Mayonnaise
- 4 1.5 - 2cm thick slices of skinless and boneless pork belly
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 - 2 ripe tomatoes
- Few leaves of iceberg lettuce
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons yellow piccalilli (mustard pickle), or 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 8 slices brioche-, or white sandwich bread
MethodTo make crispy pork belly slices:
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- Pat dry pork belly slices and rub smoked paprika, salt and black pepper on both sides. Place belly slices on the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake for 30 minutes on one side, then flip and bake for another 20 minutes until browned and crispy (if you prefer a juicier pork belly, you can also remove them from the oven after the first 30 minutes. You can then brown/sear the pork by turning on the grill/broiler for a few minutes near the end of baking.)
- Allow to cool slightly (or completely) before using.
- Prep: Lightly toast the sandwich bread until light golden in the residual heat of the oven (or use a toaster, if you have one). Combine mayonnaise with the piccalilli or mustard. Slice tomato into 1 cm thick slices and season with some salt and pepper. Wash iceberg lettuce and pat dry. If necessary, tear larger leaves into smaller pieces.
- Assemble: Spread piccalilli mayo on the toasted slices of sandwich bread. Place some lettuce leaves on half of the bread slices followed by some sliced and seasoned tomato. Place pork belly slices on top and close with the other half of the sandwich bread. Slice through the middle, or diagonally.