Make lunch something to savor with Chef John Ash’s favorite sandwiches

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What is a sandwich?

Originally, a sandwich meant any variety of toppings held together with two or more slices of bread. Over time, bread has transformed into all kinds of rolls, toast and rolls as well as waffles, cookies and, on the sweet side, cakes and cookies.

For savory sandwiches, anything goes for fillings and garnishes, from conventional fish, meats and cheeses to fries, spaghetti, fruits and vegetables. Each type of sandwich usually has deep ethnic and geographic roots and histories. We cherish these stories almost as much as we love the sandwiches themselves.

In “The Oxford Companion to Food” Alan Davidson notes that sandwiches were officially born in England in 1762 when the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, being an avid gamer, demanded meat between two slices of bread so as not to have to leave. the game. dining table.

In today’s sandwich world, the classic definition has broadened to include anything that can contain a topping and eat out of the blue. Think about the tradition of folding your pizza, which many believe is the right way to eat Neapolitan pizza to turn it into a portable meal. In-N-Out Burger is famous for its “protein” style burgers, which are wrapped in lettuce and contain no bread. The list goes on. It would take many volumes to describe the world of sandwiches!

Here is a sample of the ones I like:

In his book “Heart of the Artichoke and other Kitchen Journeys,” New York Times contributor and former Chez Panisse chef, David Tanis, notes that “a well-made sandwich is a superb thing and not so easy to find in the world. , despite the fact that the so-called panini seem to be too available everywhere. Why is it so hard to have a good sandwich?

“If, for example, you’re in Paris, you can always walk into almost any bar and have a simple ham sandwich on a fresh baguette, and that will somehow be perfect. Fresh bread, good butter, good ham. That’s it. … A flawless sandwich must be built to order, quickly but perfectly. Not stacked with lettuce, tasteless tomatoes or sprouts and anything else.

Ham sandwich in a French bar

Makes 1 sandwich

1 baguette

Good cultured butter

Cooked ham or country ham

Split the baguette, butter it generously and place it on the ham. And There you go!

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A hallmark of Louisiana cuisine, po’boy is likely related to northern and eastern hoagie sandwiches, but it contains more local ingredients. One story goes that in 1929, during a four-month strike against a New Orleans streetcar company, a restaurant served strikers free sandwiches. Restaurant workers jokingly called the strikers “poor boys,” and soon the sandwiches took the name. The following recipe is called a “dressed” po’boy because it contains bacon, lettuce and tomatoes.

Po’Boy with fried oysters

Makes 4 sandwiches

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ½ cup yellow or white cornmeal

1 ½ teaspoons of salt

2 teaspoons or more of store-bought or homemade Creole spice blend (recipe follows)

Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying

16 “small” raw shelled oysters

4 brioche or French rolls, toasted

Mayonnaise

4 thick slices of applewood smoked bacon, cooked crisp and drained

Iceberg lettuce leaves, whole or grated

2 medium tomatoes, the most ripe and sweetest you can find, thinly sliced

4 slices of white or sweet red onion (optional)

Combine flour, cornmeal, salt and spice blend in medium bowl. Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan at 350 degrees.

Toss the oysters into the seasoned flour, shake off excess flour and fry for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.

To assemble, generously spread the toasts with mayonnaise then add the oysters, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and the tops of the buns. To consume with greed!

Creole spice blend

2 teaspoons of sweet paprika powder

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon each of dried thyme, basil and oregano

½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the spices in a spice grinder.

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There are two competing stories about the origin of the French Dip sandwich, and neither takes place in France, but in Los Angeles.

First of all, Cole’s, which still exists in Los Angeles and calls itself the “Originators of the French Dip”, claims the title of inventor. Their story is that the sandwich first saw the light of day in 1908, when Cole’s chef, sympathetic to a hungry customer with bad gums, softened French bread by dipping it in the hot juice of the roast beef used for the meat. of sandwich.

The second story is that Philippe Mathieu, who was French, invented the sandwich. In 1918, he owned the Philippe the Original delicatessen and sandwich shop, still operating in Los Angeles. According to this story, Philippe was making a sandwich for a police officer and accidentally dropped the sliced ​​French bread in the juices of a roasting pan. The policeman liked the sandwich so much that he came back the next day with some friends to order the sandwich dipped in the meat pan.


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