The Husband tends to scorn the BLT as an “air sandwich.” Of course, it’s delicious—how can it not be as long as bacon is involved—but it’s hardly what you’d call filling. That’s why I’ve bulked up the traditional BLT with some “fried” fish. I’ve also tricked up the standard-issue mayo with some fresh basil and a little lemon zest. The result is a sandwich buff enough to kick sand in the face of the skinny little BLT. Indeed, this is a sandwich worthy of dinner entrée status. By the way, if you are not a fan of catfish or can’t find it in your area, any firm fleshed fish will work.
Makes 4 servings | Hands-on time: 30 minutes | Total preparation time: 30 minutes
8 slices bacon (about 7 ounces)
2 plum tomatoes
3⁄4 cup mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup fresh basil leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices firm white bread
1⁄4 cup Wondra or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg
Four 4-ounce catfish fillets
1⁄4 cup extra virgin
8 slices rustic bread
4 large romaine lettuce leaves
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the bacon on a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes 1/3 inch thick. Lightly salt them on both sides and set them aside for 10 minutes; pat them dry. Combine the mayonnaise, basil, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a blender and puree. Pulse the bread in a blender or food processor to make 2 cups fresh bread crumbs.
Spread out the flour and bread crumbs in separate pie plates lined with wax paper or parchment; beat the egg in a bowl. Season the catfish fillets with salt and pepper to taste; working with 1 fillet at a time, toss them in the flour, lifting the wax paper on both sides to move them around; shake off the excess flour. Dip them into the egg, letting the excess drip off, and finally into the crumbs, shaking off any excess.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Sauté the catfish for about 5 minutes per side or until golden and just cooked through. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil when you turn the pieces.
Toast the bread. Place 4 slices on serving plates and spread the top sides with some of the mayonnaise mixture; top each with lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, and a catfish fillet. Spread one side of the remaining toast slices with the mayonnaise mixture and place them, mayo side down, on the sandwiches. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.