The best sandwiches take a little more thought. A little more time. Avoiding the shortcuts.
I have a mini obsession with perfect sandwiches that have every component within each bite. I can be found dissecting them and putting them back together at restaurants. I did this once as a teenager in front of my mother and sister and they laughed at me because they were so confused. Nothing is worse than biting into a sandwich and only having bread and then the next one is full of meat and ending with maybe just some cheese. Or what about sandwiches that are dry without any condiments on the bread or just one dimensional? Don’t get me wrong, a PB&J has a place in every kitchen as does a ham sandwich. However, the ham sandwich better have Dukes mayo, yellow mustard, swiss cheese, thick sliced ham, pickles and crunchy iceburg lettuce (that was my Gramma’s specialty).
I have found that people treat sandwiches as only a quick meal. Almost an afterthought for a quick dinner. The best sandwiches take a little more thought. A little more time. Avoiding the shortcuts.
1. Add a vinegary component. This could be chopped gherkin, preserved lemon with tuna, pickled onion with beef or just plain basic pickles. Most home cooks neglect this step and it could be the difference between an ok sandwich a great one.
2. Don’t forget the layer of fat. You can’t be afraid of fat. When crunchy bread meets a smear of olive oil or garlic aioli (or both) it gives a great contrast of flavor and texture while adding moisture.
3. Remember the crunch. People tend to forget about texture in their sandwiches which can leave you with a mushy sandwich. It could be as simple as iceburg lettuce on ham, a little more complex like cracklin’s or even just grabbing some potato chips from the pantry.
4. Heat is your friend. We all know that hot and saucy is better than cold. We have grilled cheese, panini’s and Philly hoagies. Just serve it quickly so the bread doesn’t become soggy.
5. Utilize leftovers. Think outside the box and you could have a bolognese sub ladled on top of crunchy French bread smeared with ricotta and fried herbs. Or take the leftover pot roast and throw it on bread with a garlic aioli, gruyere cheese, pickled red onions and arugula like I did here.
6. Go vegetarian. Layer a crunchy salad with hard boiled eggs, lemon aioli, feta and olives. You don’t need meat to make a great sandwich and it’s also a great way to use up leftover salad.
7. Make peace with bread. With the ridiculous gluten free movement people are eating sandwiches wrapped in lettuce or sprout “bread”. A sandwich starts with great bread. This could simple soft white bread with a curry chicken salad or sliced foccacia stuffed with a salad.
8. Think fresh. There is the whole farm to table movement that utilize seasonal ingredients now which is great. Start thinking that way with a sandwich. Crisp cucumbers with tuna, olives and feta or maybe the local market has some goat cheese, herbs and asparagus. Think texture, contrast, fat and bread.