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Summer of Sandwiches

Whither the open-faced sandwich option?

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I’m still hung up on sandwiches.  Last week, I promised to tell what I know about these versatile food items, so I’m sharing fascinating sandwich facts with all my adoring fans. (I think I’m up to seven fans now if you include my children!) If you remember, the whole idea for a sandwich column sprouted from a guest at my restaurant ordering a sandwich open-face style. This used to be a common request back in the last century, but it’s an expression that seems to have gone out of favor now. So I thought it appropriate to break down the basic components of a sandwich and offer a short discourse on the anatomy said item.

All sandwiches start with a foundation—just like any well-constructed building. That foundation is the bread. Do not discount the importance of good bread; the type of bread you choose is what determines the type of sandwich you’re constructing. Yes, sandwiches fit into neat categories designated by the bread with which they are built.

The Long Roll category includes submarine sandwiches, hoagies, grinders and po’boys—each requires a long roll. The next category is Loaves, which includes any sandwich on sliced bread. I’m speaking of Pullman loaves, of rustic panini loaves, challah loaves, and so forth. The most classic example is the well-constructed club sandwich. Let me make something perfectly clear: A club sandwich is made with three slices of toasted Pullman-style bread! Any sandwich that calls itself a club but isn’t built with three slices of toasted bread is an imposter and should therefore be disdained and admonished as the true fraud it is. Don’t be fooled by corporate marketing hacks.

The next category is that of Roll, be it soft white or crispy French or even brioche bun. These rolls are sandwich-sized—four-and-half inches to five inches—simply sliced in two, ready to joyfully receive your fillings of choice.

May I pause for a moment to tell you that writing this is making me really hungry? So hungry. OK, back to work. The next category in this titillating list is Flat Breads. The group includes pitas with or without pockets, naan, tortillas and even pizza dough. Pizza dough is used for the infamous Italian-American favorite: Stromboli, named for a volcano that erupted again this summer!

The final category is the one responsible for these last two columns: The Open-faced Sandwich. The open-faced is traditionally served on sliced loaves and, as you might’ve guessed, there’s no top slice. Just one piece of bread on the bottom. (Sometimes the cheekier fans of this type of sandwich refer to it as Topless!) My favorite open-faced items are tea sandwiches. I’m just a sucker for these one or two bite treats from jolly ol’ England. Try this classic tea sandwich—do like I do and sip a tall glass of fine bourbon as a side—beats the hell out of tea.

 

Chef Bill’s Cucumber & Chive Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

Ingredients

• 2 Tbsp. chives, chopped

• 3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

• 1/2 English cucumber

• 3 sprigs dill

• 1/2 lemon, juiced

• White bread

 

Directions

1. Trim the bread crusts, cut into one to two bite squares, rectangles or triangles.

2. Mix cream cheese with chives and lemon juice.

3. Slice ’cumbers on the mandolin, paper-thin.

4. Spread cream cheese mixture on one half of the bread. Put another bread half over that.

5. Garnish with dill sprigs.

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