Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Ultimate Sandwich

OK so first a disclaimer, you know the fine print that they usually save till the end.
It is not, nor has it ever been my intention to proclaim that I know better than you. I believe that the variety of individual tastes and preferences is what makes the world an interestining place. There is not and there should never be one ultimate anything. At least not an ultimate anything that you can eat.
That being said the intention here is to offer you my version of the ultimate, because if you read the first post you would know, this is not about you, it’s about me. To do this properly I think it would be prudent to take a look at the components.

The Bread-By far the most important component! Great bread will hide a poor filling but, there is not a protein in sight that can cover up bad bread.

The Spread-Yes it actually has a function. Usually fat based, oil, butter or mayo. It came to the party to protect the bread from getting soggy.

The Filling-Oh where to start?

The Garnish-Spicy, crunchy, and refreshing are the buzz words here the garnishes should be thought of as punctuation. Used sparingly a few, full flavored extras make every bite a little different than the last and elevate the sandwich as a whole.

And now a bit of history. The sandwich takes its name from John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Apparently Sir John fancied himself a gambler and would snack on pieces of cold meat tucked between two slices of bread while sitting at the gaming tables instead of stepping away to enjoy a proper meal. It also happens to be my understanding that sushi has similar origins in that it was a way to take nourishment without being distracted from the matter at hand. That’s right my friends ditch the chopsticks, eat your sushi with your fingers and double down.

I think that now would be as good a time as any for a bite of the classics.

B.L.T.- In my opinion this is one of the greatest. But, It should be made with homemade mayo, Good quality smoked bacon, fresh, crisp romaine or iceberg and a local tomato plucked from the vine at the peak of ripeness. The B.L.T. has a very limited season in my book. And the only addition worth mentioning would be a few slices of ripe avocado.

The Italian- My first job was at a deli in Wayne NJ. I have made my fair share of Italian Subs. I always liked to dress the sub roll with a touch of mayo. Then ham, salami, and provolone, lettuce, tomato, oil and vinegar. I know there is supposed to be raw onion and a sprinkle of dried herbs. To be perfectly honest that ruins it for me. I do however like some hot pickeled peppers.

The Cubano- Roasted pork, ham, cheese, yellow mustard and pickles on buttered cuban bread and cooked in a press. also known as a mixto.

I do believe that by definition I could include both the hamburger and the hot dog. But, I will leave that for another day. Along with the oxymoronic open faced sandwich.
So to produce My Ultimate Sandwich I would like to take a lesson from the Classics and then head off on my own. Here goes…

The bread of choice is a baguette, specifically because of the crust to interior ratio. I love a rustic boule as much as you but for this sandwich I need the crust of the baguette. My spread is a combination of whole grain mustard and homemade mayo. I need to see at least three types of meat and one cheese. I’ll start with duck liver pate, then some fresh, roasted meat like beef sirloin, then a smoked or cured meat (or maybe both) I like a nice smoked pork loin or prosciutto. The go to cheese is aged Gouda. Remember I’m Dutch. Make sure to slice it very thin. The nutty, salty, caramel flavors that it imparts are a haunting element of this ultimate sandwich. For the garnish I’m going with a little spicy vinegar slaw. Keep portions in mind here this is not a three story Dagwood affair. You only need a little of each of the components. The last little trick, to raise the whole affair above and beyond is temperatures. I want the bread warm but not toasted. The pate, prosciutto, and smoked ham cool but not cold. The cheese at room temp. and the sirloin still warm. Make sure that the slaw is ice cold. So I hope this inspires you to go and produce your own version of the " Ultimate Sandwich". Good luck! And pass me a beer!!!

For Lover's Only Photobooth, 2.12.12