A chef’s top 10 sandwiches
Sandwiches. They are one of the top 4 things, along with sleep, mugs of tea and radio 4, that make me happy. You see, I think that to truly have a piece of happiness in every single day, that the things that make you smile need to be the little things. If your list of the top 4 things that make you happiest contain things like beaches at sunset, driving an open top car in the sunshine, campfires under the stars and Japanese fish markets then your days may not always be as bright as mine. With a simple list, it's easy to get my daily smile quota up high.
One thing makes me sad though. Really sad. A bad sandwich. Specifically refrigerated sandwiches in plastic packaging. Shudder. I just loathe them. I know what true tasty heights a sandwich can be taken to. And I'm sure you do too. So here, for some butty inspiration is my top 10 favourite sarnies. In no particular order... after all, with a list like this, I'd find it way too hard to pick my number 1.
1. The egg butty
Nothing cures a hangover quite like it. Here's my top tips for making the best one possible.
2. The fish finger
A guilty pleasure I've had since the 80's is the version of this that comes from some certain golden arches. These days I prefer to make my own. It has to be on white bread. It has to be crispy. It has to have a slice of cheese in there. But hold the tartar. It just complicates things.
3. Cheese and tomato
Again, super simple. But I'm picky! Doorsteps of white bread from a loaf you have to slice yourself. The cheddar has to be extra mature and sliced. Not grated. It's ok if it crumbles a little. Big juicy beef tomato slice. Just one. Maybe two. A sprinkle of salt and pepper. No butter. Just a mere hint of mayo spread on the top slice. Perfection.
4. The Kentucky hot brown
There is no finer use I know for roast chicken or turkey leftovers. This unusually titled American classic is basically a wonderful oozy, sticky open sandwich. It gets its name from the Brown hotel in Louisville Kentucky where it was first served. For a brilliant quick brunch, lunch or dinner, you need some nice thick wedges of toast, some cheese sauce (like for a lasagne), sliced tomato, crispy bacon strips and leftover turkey. My own personal addition is I like a smear of mustard on the toast too. So put the mustard on your toast if using, then cover the bread with slices of leftover chicken / turkey. Cover with a couple of slices of tomato, criss-cross two pieces of pre-cooked bacon rashers on the top, cover with the creamy sauce. Then add a further sprinkle of cheese and grill under a medium grill until hot bubbly and golden.
5. Egg mayo
Has to be wholemeal brown bread. Has to have cress, no matter how old school that may seem. Cook the eggs for just 7 minutes before chilling and the yolks will stay creamy so you need less mayo. A good grind of fresh black pepper, salt and a cheeky few baby capers in there is my top tip for the perfect nostalgic treat.
6. Roast beef
A good hearty bread like sourdough for this one. Some go with horseradish but a slick of English mustard rocks my world...and the beef MUST be blushing pink.
7. Fried chicken and slaw
Whenever I indulge and make fried chicken at home I always purposely make a piece or two extra just for this lunch the next day. I like mine all wrapped up in a soft flour tortilla to contrast with the crunch. And no traditional slaw either. I freshly grate carrots and courgette and add finely sliced spring onions and no mayo. I love a simple peanut dressing. Just whisk together 2 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter with 2 tsp each of soy sauce, unsweetened mirin vinegar, 2 tsp honey, a dash of tabasco and just enough water to make it thin enough to coat the veg. Load up and get messy.
8. Scallop and bacon
Billingsgate fish market isn't just the best place to head at 3am for a foodie adventure. It has a great little greasy spoon cafe too. And one of their specialities is a soft white bap stuffed with slices of smoky streaky bacon and pan fried scallops fresh from the shell. The scallops are sautéed in butter and the nutty brown taste that gives is the best part. Watch out - serve these to brunch guests and they'll never leave.
9. The haggis toastie
You'll need to dig out your old Breville toaster from the back of the cupboard for this one because nothing else will do. You can buy one for a tenner now. It's worth doing. If just for the epic tipsy late night snack. I first tried a haggis toastie in a pub I've forgotten the name of. But I never forgot the sandwich. Heat the haggis first before adding to bread that's been buttered on the outside so it doesn't stick to the grill and gently crisps and fries on the outside. I cannot do without a dollop of old fashioned brown sauce on the side for dipping. I even make my own. But you can run to the shops. I won't tell.
10. The peanut butter jelly
Since we're at the end of the list, it feels right to finish with something sweet. It has to be smooth peanut butter. It has to be seedless raspberry jam. And it has to be toasted for that game of burn roulette with your tongue. I like brioche here but good old faithful white will do. One to be savoured solo. With a glass of milk. And a smile.
That's it - my top 10. What's yours?