I’m a sandwich fanatic. Rarely does a day pass by sandwich-less; often I’ll grab a slice of bread with a meal and stuff whatever is on my plate into it. There’s something so satisfying about biting down on a well-made slice; the countless contrasting combinations within; the carb fix; the convenience. So, my current top 5 Serious Sandwiches:
1. The Mexican Torta (top). I first came across this in Thomasina Miers’ book, Mexican Food Made Simple. It’s basically a big party of Mexican tasty all stuffed into a sturdy ballast of bread; probably the messiest sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Mine was packing: guacamole; tomato salsa; grilled chorizo; smoked chicken; refried beans; lettuce and smoked scotch bonnet mayo. One of the most delicious and gut-busting sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. I had to lie down on the sofa afterwards, like a giant beached blimp.
2. The BLAT. Bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato (sometimes a cheeky touch of spring onion). A hangover stalwart for the past goodness knows how many years. Proper bacon is essential; none of that supermarket shite. My avocados of choice are those massive ones you can find easily in Peckham. Hass are otherwise good, if you can actually find a ripe one.
2.1 A sneaky extra coming in at number 2: the BLT with fried green tomatoes. This got made because I was kindly gifted a big bag of green tomatoes by Andre, which I sliced, coated in crumbs and fried, the American way. I’d heard somewhere that these are good in a BLT. They were. A nice crunchy layer of fried stuff in the middle of a bacon sandwich was never going to be a bad thing. That’s a remoulade on the bottom made with mayo, pickle brine and Frank’s hot sauce.
3. Ham cooked in cola with deep-fried pickles. Deep-fried pickles are the best thing to happen since regular pickles and deep-fried things that are not yet pickled. The ham was simmered in cola and glazed with molasses. I finished the sandwich with home-made hot sauce. Another day I deep fried more pickles, and okra, to make a sandwich with shredded, hickory smoked hot wings. Never dismiss the option of slinging in a few deep-fried pickles. Did I mention how brilliant the deep-fried pickles are? The deep-fried pickles are very good. This is an important message.
4. The best chicken sandwich of my life. I made this after I’d cooked chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, using the garlic and chicken fat enhanced oil to make mayonnaise which I mixed with the leftover chicken. Phwoar. About 10 million calories in that one by my very scientific reckoning.
5. The SPAM mi. It’s a banh mi with SPAM. The thought of eating chopped pork and ham from a can may repulse you, but this is one of my favourite guilty pleasures and something I ate rather a lot of as a child. The Chinese love the stuff (I enjoyed it a lot at a steamboat restaurant in Chinatown the other evening) and it also works very well indeed in this Vietnamese banh mi.
I’ve just realised that 5 of those contain pork. Ah well, I don’t think anyone is under any illusions any more about how much pork I eat. I think this also illustrates rather nicely why I need to get up at 6am to exercise. Swings and roundabouts.