Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Neither of my girls will consume a sandwich. Not turkey, not grilled cheese, not even plain old PB&J. It's maddening for many reasons. I mean if there's no sandwich love in the house, what the Hell goes in the lunchbox?
But here's the most maddening reason: I make a kick-ass sandwich. I do. In fact, my hubby commented the other day, after I'd made a particularly toothsome specimen, that I am "Queen of the Awesome Sandwich."
I am waiting for my crown to arrive.
And it should, any minute, because NO, my dishwasher still isn't fixed. So I'm making hella lotta sandwiches lately.
I had a brief period of elation Monday when the service technician told me the dishwasher wasn't "fixed" per se, but was at least useable until the new part came in...but that rat-face lied to me. That sucker still dead.
I digress. Anyways, the reason I make awesome sandwiches is simple. I love sandwiches. My hypothesis: Shitty sandwiches are made by people who don't love them. Want an A-List Sandwich? Make sure it's made my someone who respects the sandwich.
True sandwich connoisseurs know that it takes a delicate balance of textures, flavors and mojo to achieve Sandwich Greatness.
For me, it's all about balance. A great sandwich needs something salty/savory/umami-ish, something crunchy, something fresh and juicy, something delightful on the bread to anchor the whole business.
And quality ingredients sure don't hurt. In fact, get the best.
Take the sandwich I made for hubs that got such raves. Two words: Boar's Head. Totally worth the money, dudes. If you're a veg head, you need gorgeous cheese or hummus or avocado in order to achieve necessary balance. And do not, I beg of you, use lame bread.
Now I realize that there are two distinct camps regarding the bread: toasters and non-toasters. Personally, I'm a dilettante. For me, it depends on the sandwich. My mama's tuna sandwich? Anything but squishy white bread, un-toasted, would be sacrilege. A proper Reuben? That bread had better crackle, my friend.
For my standard "code sandwich" I take a different approach to bread. I pop the bread in the toaster oven on the "top brown" setting. Then I put the toasted sides on the inside of the sandwich...reason being, I like crunch but hate chapping my hard palate on crust. Plus, the toasted surface allows the juicy elements to shine rather than slide out. Try this method, really. It's a revelation.
And oh dear, spreads present a very pesky problem. There's a legion of mayo haters out there (dear hubs is one of them). And some people can't abide mustard (hubs again). And using butter as an adherent is just a cop-out. But believe me, having something on that bread is crucial.
Tomato haters can be a problem, too. But as long as they'll acquiesce to crisp lettuce or thin slices of cucumber or slices of roasted red pepper, I think sandwich greatness won't be compromised.
Here's a rough recipe for my husband's Awesome Sandwich.
2 slices very good quality bread, toasted only on one side
1 tablespoon (scant for hubs) Boar's Head Spicy Remoulade Sauce
1 1/2 slices good melting cheese, such as fontina, provolone or jack
2-3 oz. Boar's Head buffalo-style chicken breast, thinly sliced
Ripe tomato slices
Romaine or any other crisp lettuce
Before you start, take the meat and cheese out of the refrigerator and fan the slices out on the counter or plate. They shouldn't be ice cold in the final product. Toast bread on one side. On one slice, spread Remoulade (toasted side). On the other slice, place cheese on the toasted side, pop back in toaster oven and heat until cheese is slightly melted.
Place meat on cheese side of bread. Place tomato on Remoulade side of bread. Place lettuce on top of tomato, then place slices together. Cut in half.
**I must say that I advocate for spicy honey mustard, hummus, mashed avocado, or olive tapenade as binders also. It's not all Remoulade in my world.
The Awesome Sandwich was a handy little staple over the past weekend. However, Monday morning dawned cold and dreary. And not just Autumn dreary--there was actually a threat of snow in the forecast.
The Awesome Sandwich is not so awesome when it's that grim outside. Which is why my Panini Maker is my most favorite thing. Seriously, I'd French-kiss that thing if I could.
Last Night's Awesome Panini**
2 slices good sourdough bread
2 thick slices Fontina cheese
2-3 ounces Boar's Head honey roasted turkey breast, sliced
Sliced roasted red peppers
Thick smhmear of Olive Tapenade (I like the Jalapeno-Olive kind, personally.
Smear Tapenade on one slice of bread. Place 1 piece of cheese on each slice (on a panini, cheese is the glue, so put it on both slices of bread! Layer on remaining ingredients. Close sandwich and either butter the outer sides or drizzle with olive oil. Squish in a hot panini maker and cook until brown and crisp. Let stand about a minute, then slice (if you slice too soon, all of your cheese drizzles out. Which is a total buzzkill).
**The toasty bread provides the crunch component in this sandwich, but if you are a freak like me, you will slide in a couple of Kettle Chips or Doritos into the sandwich. This makes my husband gag, but hey, I just roll that way.
Feel free to post your sandwich preferences, oddities, recipes and yes, even rants. I love hearing y'all talk!