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This Is An Ultimate (And Under-Appreciated) Sandwich
I did a newsletter two weeks ago where I wrote about (operating under the theory that this has not been a banner spring/summer for getting out of the house). Here's the thing: I forgot one of my all-time favorites. I almost decided just to let it slide (statute of limitations and all), but I couldn't quite bring myself to do it.
It's a sandwich from Provence called Pan Bagnat (which translates to "bathed bread"), and it's quintessential summer. The "bathed" part refers to the fact that this sandwich is essentially marinated overnight (or up to 24 hours). You assemble the whole thing on a full loaf of crusty bread, wrap it in aluminum foil, and put it in the fridge with weights on top of it. (Seriously: bricks, rocks, gallons of milk, whatever you have. And don't skimp; you're going to want at least five pounds to make sure that everything gets gloriously smushed together). The result is a compact, beautiful-looking, intensely flavored sandwich. The longer it sits (within reason), the better it tastes. All you need to do the next day is unwrap it and cut it into wedges. (It's perfect picnic food because it requires being neglected and needs no last minute attention other than slicing.)
So, what goes in it? The beauty of Pan Bagnat is that it's as much a template as it is a specific recipe. What I'd keep more or less consistent from one version to the next are the ingredients that make up the marinade: olives, capers, anchovies, marinated artichokes, fresh herbs, and plenty of oil and lemon juice. (And this time of year, a few slices of ripe tomato are basically non-negotiable.) These are the things that make the sandwich moist, salty, acidic, and irresistible. When it comes to the main components, you've got options. The version here uses canned tuna packed in oil (classic, and you use that oil to help moisten the bread) and grilled or broiled zucchini and red peppers. But honestly, you can make this sandwich with whatever cooked food you have on hand: leftover grilled fish, chicken or meat, grilled or roasted vegetables, or sliced hardboiled eggs (which are also traditional and great).
As with any sandwich, the more you like the bread, the more you'll like the sandwich. If you feel like making your own, No-Knead Bread is hard to beat. This Rosemary-Olive Oil Bread that you bake on the grill would also be delicious (it's a slightly smaller loaf, so your sandwich wouldn't be quite as large). Or, obviously, just get bread at the store. It's August; nobody's going to blame you for conserving energy. Have a great weekend.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.