I’m not usually one to have very strong opinions about how a particular thing SHOULD be made. Rather, I think you should eat what you want, how you want. Except maybe for the BLT. So, yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily call them rules, but this is how I like mine.
Cheap white bread. I like toasting one side in a little bacon fat, while keeping one side (the outside) untoasted. This way I get slightly different textures in a bite, plus the bacon’s flavor and richness. I like cheap grocery store white bread. Or when I’m fancy, Arnold’s Country White, which does still have the smoosh I need.
I hate shredded lettuce, except on a BLT. Iceberg is best, but since I never buy it (but was totally raised on it) I shred romaine hearts. There’s a nice crunch there. And put the shredded lettuce directly on a nice little layer of mayo so it kind of stays put.
Mayo. This is one area where I don’t have a strong opinion, other than no lo-cal stuff ever. I like good old Hellman’s. Some people like Duke’s, Sir Kensington’s, Kewpie or Miracle Whip. You do you.
I like a good old red slicing tomato. Salt and pepper it a bit. Sometimes Old Bay because I’m a Baltimore girl. You can even pitch some of the wet areas and seeds. I don’t love a drippy sandwich, no matter how delicious it is. I am plenty messy on my own, thank you. Incidentally, if I have an heirloom tomato around, I’m down with that, too.
The bacon needs to be right in the middle between soft and crispy. Always make extra because you need a snack while you’re making your sandwich. I tend to cook my bacon on the oven (it cooks more evenly) on a foiled baking sheet, 400 for 15-18 minutes.
And lastly (and this is a new thing) I like to cut my BLT into fourths like I’m a kid. It’s easier to eat that way!
If you get a chance, listen to Dave Chang’s podcast episode with Chris Yang and Priya Krishna. They make three very different BLTs and talk (okay, yell and laugh) about the process and results. It’s hilarious. I use shredded lettuce now because Dave Chang convinced me.
Also, it should be noted that I only make BLTs in the summer and pretty much hate tomatoes on any other kind of sandwich. I will often just cut up a tomato, add some mayo and dip bites of the tomato into the mayo. That’s my Mom right there. She doesn’t mess around.