I used to think that I did not like sandwiches. While it turns out that this is somewhat true, in fact, there are some sandwiches I love. However, they emphatically do not include “lunch meat,” the thought of which makes my stomach lurch a bit. (Except for bologna, which has to be fried. And I do not want it in a sandwich. Ever.)
It turns out that the sandwiches I loathe are the ones with a swipe of mayo and/or mustard, a slice of cheese, and some lunch meat. Read: every sandwich I was ever served in a school cafeteria. They were invariably served on white bread, and chewing them turned them into this gluey, gloppy yuck that stuck to my teeth and the roof of my mouth. Just…no thank you. (Putting them on wheat bread does not help.)
I know that there are millions of people who adore this American icon, and I am sorry if you are offended by my extreme dislike of it. This might not be your post.
But if there is room in your heart for multiple kinds of sandwiches, then read on.
For me, sandwich success requires five things: a good bread, something crunchy, something tender, something creamy, and contrasting flavors. The options are limitless, and I had an outstanding version at LaRosa’s in Andover, Massachusetts. It was open-faced on Italian bread with a tender breaded chicken cutlet, (I know, this can seem like an oxymoron) slightly bitter sautéed broccoli rabe, garlic cream sauce, and melted smoked mozzarella. The sandwich was piled high and was knife-and-fork material, like a Danish Smørrebrød (though the Smørrebrød would not be piled high).
I’ve had this combination of yum before, but usually tossed with pasta rather than on a sandwich, and as I thought about it, a lot of the sandwiches I love are things I first saw with pasta or on an antipasto platter: meatballs, tomato sauce and melty mozzarella; salami, mortadella, provolone, and marinated roasted red peppers and artichokes; chicken, arugula, and shaved parmigiano reggiano with a little vinaigrette. These are all Italian, but the options are limitless.
I think the thing I like best about playing around with the sandwich-as-a-meal concept is that it can be as complicated as making all of the ingredients from scratch or as simple as gathering leftovers, and no matter what you pile on the bread, eating it feels kind of a like a hug.
Check out some fabulous sandwich options at these links: