The Secrets Of A Great Sandwich
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sandwich as, “An item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with a filling between them, eaten as a light meal.” But, a sandwich is so much more, isn’t it?
While the Earl of Sandwich lent his name to the sandwich, placing meat between slabs of bread was popular long before the formal introduction of the sandwich. In his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon entered this note from his journal; “That respectable body, of which I have the honour of being a member, affords every evening a sight truly English. Twenty or thirty, perhaps, of the first men in the kingdom, in point of fashion and fortune, supping at little tables covered with a napkin, in the middle of a coffee-room, upon a bit of cold meat, or a sandwich, and drinking a glass of punch.”
The word sandwich first appeared in a recipe book in 1773 in a cookbook by Charlotte Mason entitled Being A Complete System of Cookery, Containing One Hundred and Fifty Select Bills of Fare. Regardless of its original roots, the sandwich is a mainstay of English culture that has swept the world.
Making the Perfect Sandwich
Everybody has their own favourite toppings, seasonings and condiments, but making a sandwich can be a thoroughly enjoyable process that adds to the sweet taste of success. Great sandwich making skills are easy to develop.
Great sandwiches begin with the bread. If you start with a poor bread selection or bread that is not complimentary to the contents of the sandwich, your sandwich is doomed before your begin. Popular breads are Bavarian fresh baked bread rolls, French rolls or any number of white or wheat breads. The key is to buy fresh and in most cases to buy local.
Sandwich breads come in all shapes and sizes. They are homemade and store-bought. The most important element in a good sandwich bread is freshness. Different breads accommodate different toppings. Thinner bread is great for egg salad sandwiches. Heavier breads are better for meats. Choose your bread according to the weight and constitution of your centre piece content.
Choosing Your Principle Ingredient
Everything, including your bread selection, revolves around your first selection, the centre piece of your sandwich. What taste do you desire? Once you identify that, and the choices are innumerable, the sandwich is well on the way to a memorable meal. The latest trend is for combo sandwiches but whether you chose one main ingredient or more, this selection deserves some forethought.
As with the bread, freshness counts when it comes to your main ingredient. All the condiments and seasonings known to man cannot help a poor choices of ingredients. If you are planning a combo of two or more choices, be sure the combo flavours are compatible.
In the UK, popular meat choices are ham, salami, roast beef, turkey, pastrami and fajita chicken strips. Favourites for vegetarians are avocado and alfalfa sprouts.
Popular Condiments and Seasonings
Popular condiments are plentiful. Condiments and seasonings add flavour, moisture and can impact the overall presentation. The choice of seasoning must be another well-considered decision.
These are popular seasonings and condiments:
- Mayonnaise – or a vegan mayonnaise substitute
- Mustard – I like organic stone ground mustard.
- Onions – white or yellow onions are fine.
- Lettuce – whatever type of lettuce you love most.
- Tomato – sliced thin.
- Olives – sliced black olives.
- Pepperoncinis – spicy hot!
- Pickles – ordinary dill pickle slices
- Mozzarella cheese (with added cheddar on a few types of sandwiches: veggie or ham)
However, condiments and seasonings are your opportunity to customize your sandwich creation. You should not be afraid of being creative with your seasoning and condiment choices. Whatever your choices, the intent of condiments and seasonings is to embolden the main ingredient choices.
Using a Sandwich Board
If you are a serious sandwich maker, you may want to consider a good sandwich board. The ideal sandwich board provides a flat surface with a waste area for crumbs and leftovers. The tray allows the crumbs to fall between the grooves on the slotted grill.
Your sandwich making abilities will improve if you use a “fiddle bow bread knife.” This knife and bread board can separate the serious and popular sandwich maker from the novice. Clean cuts have value.
Before you begin, place all your fixings above your sandwich board on the table or counter. Use your fiddle bow bread knife to cut and use a spreading knife to spread. Apply proper portions carefully, one layer at a time. For the best sandwich, apply a condiment to each slice of bread. Add seasonings on top of the condiments and between slices of your selection. Cut the sandwich in half or quarts, insert a toothpick to hold in place and you are ready with a professionally made deli sandwich. Bon appetit!
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