It’s a proven fact that a good sandwich will get you laid. Don’t believe me? I bet your mother or father made each other a sandwich one night. And they made you! Sandwiches will heal wounds and achieve justice.
All good sandwiches are based on a couple of core elements. At its most simple, a slice of meat in some bread will make a fine sandwich. But just remember that the true value is based on the sum of its parts. A grilled cheese is dependent on the quality of bread, butter and cheese used. That being said, necessity is the mother of invention and I am hungry.
There are the elements of a great sandwich. These are not rules, but rather personal guidelines that I follow:
Open or closed?
An open-faced sandwich can be a joy. I have personally been living vicariously through “French Guy Cooking’s” exploration of French cuisine through tartines. As Alex says “they will let you enjoy the taste of France, where ever you are in the world and whatever your budget.” I say genius.
The series shows the true versatility of the sandwich in its purest form.
The bread. Toast.
The quality of bread makes the core of any great sandwich. It is the platform and foundation of your creation. Use the bread that you have or can afford. As a universal toast lover, I think it is always worthwhile to toast bread as it creates extra flavour and slightly dries the bread to absorb juices while maintaining structural integrity.
Quick Tip: Baking bread is surprisingly easy, but good bread is worth the price and is actually quite cost efficient. The big issue here is wastage. You can save a bunch of money on quality bread if you buy whole loaves, cut them into slices or large chunks, put them in a paper bag and then a plastic bag and then freeze. When you want fresh bread, quickly microwave to slightly defrost and then toast. Frozen slices can be put directly in the toaster and put on a single cycle to defrost, double to toast.
Spread it like butter, mayo or avo.
I am a lover of all spreads. I praise a thick spread of butter, mustard, pate (OMG pate), mayo or avocado. Think of complementary flavours here to add to your sandwich rather than cloud the experience.
With toast, you can use the crusty exterior by rubbing garlic, chilli or other flavours to really give your sandwich some pop! French Guy Cooking’s $1.42 Tartine with Chili Mayo Egg & Chive is a perfect example of this philosophy.
For me, the king of all sandwich spreads is mustard. I LOVE Dijon mustard. I cannot have enough of it. I put that shit on everything.
Pickles. Use them.
You have already heard my treatise on pickles and all fermented foods. Kosher dill pickles will make any sandwich fantastic. You can also take an example from Bahn Mi sandwiches as evidence of the power of quick pickles.
My second favourite pickles would have to be kimchi. For those who don’t know or have never tried, it is like sauerkraut on steroids.
Quick Tip: Quick pickled onions are the some of the easiest things to make. Take an onion and cut them into thin wedges. Separate the layers. In a saucepan add equal parts water and vinegar (white vinegar is fine, but you can also be creative here but nothing expensive or balsamic). Dissolve equal parts sugar and salt. Add pickling spices (coriander, fennel, allspice berries, peppercorns, bay leaves. When mixture boils, pour over onions and let them sit. They will last in the fridge for 2 weeks.
Though unnecessary, meat will make your sandwich awesome. In my opinion meat is often commonly overlooked and undervalued.
It is often the he most expensive part of the sandwich, but by spending a bit more or being slightly creative you can really have a great experience. Not only a prime source of salmonella, “lunch meat” can sadly often a bland and unsatisfactory sandwich meat. Some of my favourite meats to have on hand are pre-sliced prosciutto bacon or whole dry cured sausages. The key here is using less meat, of a better quality. The benefit here is also that these products will last longer in the fridge and are delicious!
I will always praise the ham sandwich, the muffuletta, the veal parmesean, the smoked meat, the BLT, and all other classics. But you can also use sandwiches to use leftovers too! Have some leftover roast chicken? Make chicken salad. Made a steak last night? How about a steak sandwich. Leftover lamb sandwiches are fantastic with a bit of tzatziki, sliced tomatoes, lettuce and parsley!
Quick tip: Any “salad” sandwich recipe is very simple. To 1 cup of chicken/salmon/hard-boiled eggs add ½ cup mayo and ½ cup of yogurt. Dice 2 tbsp pickles, 2 green onions, a 2 tbsp capers (secret ingredient), fresh ground pepper, and 2 tbsp of chopped herbs (dill and parsley are my favourite).
Be creative with your veg. Season your tomatoes.
Don’t let lettuce and tomatoes rule the sandwich kingdom. If you put tomatoes in your sandwich be sure to season them well. A seasoned tomato is a thing of joy, unseasoned is a missed opportunity.
Other veggies are great. Be sure to cut them thin slabs to allow for stacking and maximize structural integrity. This is also another great opportunity to get creative with your leftovers. The use of vegetables by French Guy Cooking are a fantastic inspiration to me.
The way the cheese melts
Finally, when in doubt, put cheese in it. Everyone likes cheese.
If you make me a grilled cheese, I will be your friend.