Mark Leslie's "Old School BLT"

Before the microwave, turkey bacon, pre-sliced loaf bread and store-bought mayo, the wholesome BLT had more character. A staple for a simple and refreshing meal on a hot summer's day, my twist on this American favorite uses homemade mayonnaise (with fresh lemon juice and olive oil), thick-cut baked bacon, Heirloom tomatoes, crispy Romaine lettuce and crusty artisanal bread—something more flavorful and reminiscent of a sandwich from a bygone era.

"Old School" BLT

2 pounds extra thick cut bacon

Homemade Mayonnaise (see recipe below)

8 1/2-inch-thick slices of artisanal bread (such as a Tuscan Boule, Ciabatta, Peasant loaf)

2 large or 3 medium Heirloom tomatoes, deseeded and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices

Kosher or Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 leaves of Hearts of Romaine lettuce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a sided baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil (making clean up easier) and arrange the bacon on the foil, making sure there is a little space between each slice. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the bacon over and continue baking for another 5 to 8 minutes, until nicely golden by not overly crisp. Immediately remove the bacon from the baking sheet, placing on paper towels to drain. Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the mayonnaise as indicated below.

To assemble: liberally spread mayonnaise on the top of the bottom slice of bread, topping with 4 slices of bacon (depending on how thick the bacon is cut). Add 1 or 2 slices of tomato on top of the bacon. Lightly season the top of the tomato with a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Add 2 pieces of lettuce (*). Spread the top slice of bread with mayonnaise and place on top of the lettuce.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

*NOTE: For a really summertime flavor-packed twist, add 3 large fresh basil leaves with the lettuce to each sandwich.

For homemade mayonnaise:

1 large egg yolk (*)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup olive oil (use extra virgin olive oil for a more flavorful mayo)

In a medium bowl, add the egg yolk, lemon juice and salt. Using a hand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the yolk mixture on low until light in color. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the oil, a little at a time. Do not add the oil too fast or the mayonnaise will curdle—this is a case where less is more. Continue beating until all of the oil has been added and the mixture has thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. [Should the mixture curdle, do not worry! Add an additional egg yolk to a new bowl and SLOWLY beat in a little of the  "curdled" mixture at a time into the new egg yolk. This should un-curdle the first attempt and you can continue slowly adding the rest of the oil.] Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. [Refrigerated, it will keep for 4 to 5 days.] Makes about 1 cup.

(*)Please take note that the eggs used in this recipe are not cooked. Notice: The consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, meat, poultry, seafood or shellfish may increase your risk of food borne illness.