It's hard not to love Heirloom Market BBQ — for its artful blending of Korean and Southern barbecue influences, for its decidedly shack-like setting and decor, for its willingness to push the bounds of what a barbecue shack should even serve. Heirloom's BLT sandwich, a special that's been on the menu basically daily for a little while now, captures their essence pretty well. It's not at all like any BLT you've had before.
Actually, when I think about BLTs (and I do think about them a lot), what I daydream about has nothing at all in common with Heirloom's BLT. My dream BLT involves toasted white bread, a generous spread of mayo, crisp bacon, just-as-crisp lettuce, and thick cut tomato at the peak of summer freshness. And what does Heirloom offer? Basically none of that!
The Heirloom BLT makes my daydream BLT look like a wimpy old-timer (I do still love wimpy old-timer BLTs). It's a piled high construction of toasted bun, thick slabs of pork belly that are equal parts tender fat and smoky meat, a bit of South Carolina mustard sauce by way of Korea, thin slices of raw Napa cabbage, and a tall pile of pickled green tomatoes, radishes, and jalapeños. This BLT is meaty, spicy, sweet and simply irresistible.
I spoke with chef Cody Taylor to get the scoop on Heirloom's very unusual BLT, and he agreed it was one of the more interesting items on their menu. Heirloom cures their own pork belly. First, 7 days with sea salt. Then, 3 more days with Korean miso and brown sugar. Then, into the smoker with some hickory logs for a good 5 hours. THEN, the pork belly is sliced into thick strips and goes into a frying pan when every individual BLT is ordered. The pork belly gets a quick douse of that mustard sauce, then becomes the foundation for a big pile of Napa cabbage and green tomato "kimchi."
The green tomato "kimchi" is actually more like pickled green tomatoes - there's no fermentation involved. Thick slices of green tomato meet up with thinly sliced radishes and jalapeños in a bath of rice wine vinegar and spices, with enough sugar to give a flavor that is equal parts sweet and tart. The flavor profile is obviously very different than a ripe summer tomato, but the acidity and the sweetness both work remarkably well next to that pork belly and mustard sauce.
What it all adds up to is a sandwich unlike any other BLT you will ever see. I always have a hard time choosing at Heirloom, but the presence of the BLT now makes ordering anything else a challenge. I won't give up my regular old white bread BLTs in the summertime, but, in the meantime, I know I can go to Heirloom and get a not-like-any-other BLT fix. By the way, Taylor says the BLT should stay on the specials list for a while, since he enjoys curing the pork belly so much and making the green tomato kimchi. If I were you, though, I would get out to Heirloom Market BBQ ASAP for your BLT.
Get in Ma Mouth is a look at delicious things around Atlanta. It all started with a fig and mascarpone donut "slider," but knows no bounds other than that of eager hunger - sweet or savory, solid or liquid, homemade or store-bought. Click here for an archive of "Get in Ma Mouth" temptations.
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