This list of Ultimate Sandwiches is a list of my favourite sandwiches, all of which you can reproduce at home. It is fairly international, as you will expect, with a leaning to the US, as they have come up with some of the best ones. This piece is sponsored by Hellmann’s, who have an interest in sandwiches, naturally!
1. Po’ Boy
I have never been to Louisiana – and that is a dark mark on my travel history I know – but I am very familiar with their food, and the Po’ Boy is one of my favourite things to eat. Po’ Boy refers to the fact that this is what the poor boys would eat, more specifically striking workers in 1929. Made often with roast meat, Louisiana sausage or fried seafood (catfish, oysters, shrimp). Oysters are a real treat but I find this is delicious with some lovely sweet shrimp too, fried until crisp in a seasoned & light corn batter and served with a Cajun remoulade & some lettuce in a French stick.
2. Bahn Mi
Bahn Mi is a term for bread, specifically the French baguette which was introduced by the French when they had colonised and termed Vietnam, Indochina. Like the Louisiana French stick, it tends to be lighter than what we get here than in France, and a Bahn Mi sandwich, as we know them, is this bread filled with all kinds of pork from pork meatballs to pate, pork belly, loin or pork floss (fabulous light and fluffy dried pork). You can get other meats too, but when I make Bahn Mi Thit (the most popular and usually pork centric form), I usually make it with seasoned pork belly or loin, which is served in a baguette with Sriracha, and finished with things like cucumber and coriander. I like to marinate my pork in fish sauce, honey, chilli etc, marinade overnight and then finish with coriander.
3. Crab Sandwich
The crab sandwich has many interpretations, for one of my favourites I look to the US and to Maryland in particular. The crab sandwich there is essentially a crab burger (and a burger is really just a sandwich too), with loose packed crab combined with seasonings like Old Bay, mayo for texture and some egg to hold it together. After that everyone has their own version. It is crumbed with either breadcrumbs or cracker meal and served in a bun. My preference is a brioche burger bun, which goes beautifully with the lovely sweet meat.
4. Steak Sandwich
Flash fried steak cooked – for me – medium rare and served with fried onions and mustard is a classic and brilliant sandwich. It can be made with inexpensive cuts sliced thin and so can be very speedy and accessible too. You can caramelise your onions, and make them swish, I prefer mine done a little quicker and crisper, more akin to what you would be used to on a hot dog. Very hard to beat when done well.
5. Chorizo, Red Pepper & Rocket Roll
This roll is a nod to Brindisa in Borough Market in London who have long queues for this sandwich every weekend. Made with piquillo peppers, soft spiced cooking chorizo and rocket, it has become a favourite for me to recreate at home too. Chorizo is a brilliant ingredient, and needs very little done with it, all the flavour is there and ready to play with. With all in the sandwich being so soft, I like to serve mine in crusty bread.
6. Toasted Special / Grilled Cheese
We Irish are obsessed with the Toasted Special, otherwise known as the Toastie (UK), Grilled Cheese (US) or Jaffle (Australia). The Toasted Special refers to a specific combination of ingredients (ham, cheese, onion and tomato), cooked until molten in a toasted sandwich maker, or sometimes under the grill. Once Autumn rolls around I hear their sirens call, and I can’t resist having them power me through some of the more grim days of Winter.
7. Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Sandwich / Roast Chicken Sandwich
Roast chicken brings many gifts. A glorious lunch or dinner and leftovers – lots of them. I love to make a simple roast chicken sandwich, with sea salt, lettuce and mayonnaise, but sometimes I pimp it up with crisp salty bacon and luscious avocado – decadent and a treat. Save some chicken skin and crisp it up and add it warm to the sandwich too. Chicken skin is one of life’s most delicious treats.
8. Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Bagel
Perhaps the speediest of the lot, the smoked salmon cream cheese bagel demands great ingredients, for it is so simple that a poor bagel or smoked salmon will kill it. But when made right, a warm toasted bagel with a generous lick of cream cheese and chives, scallions or capers is one of the world’s best and simplest sandwiches. A little indulgent, a little healthy, it is fairly guilt-free too; depending on how much cream cheese you put on it!
What? Yes. Let me introduce you to the Bacon Crispy Kale Tomato sandwich. You know the BLT, and, yes, that is a great sandwich, but what if you took it further, and, instead of matching the salty bacon and sweet tomato with something floppy, you matched it with something slightly bitter, spiced and crisp? Yes, it works, and it is fabulous. Simply lightly oil some kale and sprinkle it with sea salt and paprika before roasting it on a single layer for 5 minutes at 200 deg C. Easy, eh? And fabulous.
10. Salt Beef Sandwich
A New York classic, the salt beef sandwich is best served hot, with lots of mustard, and pickles on the side. Rye is traditional, the lighter one usually, but I like the darker rye here. At home, I cook my own salt beef, often buying it pre prepared by the butcher before cooking it at home, but it is easy to make too. Fatty brisket is brined for about 5 days before being poached gently with some vegetables. Serve hot, direct from the poaching water, in thin but lush slices, piled impossibly high and leaning. UH HUH. Now that is what I am talking about.