‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten Secret to the Perfect BLT is Surprisingly Simple

Barefoot Contessa star Ina Garten knows a few things about cooking. As a Food Network star and cookbook author, Garten is a self-taught celebrity chef who knows all about comfort food. She even has a few special secrets. Including a surprisingly simple one for the perfect BLT.

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten and Hoda Kotb on the Today show
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten and Hoda Kotb | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ says people often misuse this common kitchen ingredient

During a 2018 tour of her Hamptons home, Garten shared her pantry staples with Bon Appétit. That’s when she revealed that most people often use salt incorrectly. The 72-year-old explained that different types of salt do different things to a dish. This means that you need a variety on hand in the kitchen.

“The one ingredient that most people use wrong is salt,” she said. “It’s really important in every dish, both sweet and savory. You also have to use the right one for the right occasion.”

Ina Garten says three types of salt will cover every recipe

In her pantry at home, Garten always has three types of salt available to use. She says that these three types of salt will cover every recipe you come across. For cooking, Garten uses Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because “it’s always perfect.” To finish a recipe, Garten uses Fleur de Sel or Maldon sea salt flakes.

“But when I want to finish with salt, I use Fleur de Sel, which is a French sea salt, and it’s just the kind of briny, or Maldon English flake salt,” Garten said. “When I’m brushing the top of a pot pie with egg wash, a little sprinkle of that flaky salt gives it a little crunch. It’s absolutely delicious.”

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The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ says people don’t use enough salt

Because salt can make or break a dish, Garten takes it very seriously. She emphasized the importance of seasoning food properly while speaking with Kitchn ahead of the release of her cookbook Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like A Pro.

“Most people make the biggest mistake in seasoning with salt and pepper. They don’t use it enough,” she said. “Every recipe says season to taste. But you don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like, so how are you supposed to season it to taste?”

She explained just how big of a difference salt can be. Garten says chicken stock that isn’t seasoned well tastes “like dirty dishwater.” But when you add salt, you’ll taste the chicken, vegetables, and herbs.

Ina Garten’s recipe for the perfect BLT includes avocado

You might think all BLT’s are created equal since the ingredients are in the name – bacon, lettuce, and tomato. But, Garten’s recipe proves that’s absolutely not true. The Barefoot Contessa does have a couple of extra ingredients to make it a true California BLT.

Ingredients:

6 thick-cut slices smoked bacon

4 slices good white bread, cut 1/2-inch thick

4 tablespoons good mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s)

4 to 8 tender green lettuce leaves, washed and spun very dry

1 ripe Hass avocado

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 large ripe tomato, sliced 1/2-inch thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ has a simple secret for the perfect BLT

To make Garten’s California BLT, you must first preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, put a baking wire rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in a single layer on the rack. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until it’s browned and crisp. Put the bacon on a paper towel to drain and set aside.

But the bread slices on the sheet pan and toast them for five minutes. Turn them over and toast for another 60 seconds. You want the bread to be evenly browned before placing the slices on a cutting board. Spread a tablespoon of mayo on each slice, then cover the slices with a layer of lettuce.

After you peel the avocado and slice it a half-inch thick, toss the slices in the lemon juice and then place them on the lettuce leaves. Next comes three slices of bacon, plus a layer of tomatoes. Garten’s special secret for the perfect BLT is to sprinkle those tomatoes liberally with salt and pepper.