Ham, salami and pepperoni with geuze cheese and chilli sauce
There’s a wee Italian deli round the corner from the office that knocks out some cracking sandwiches. Everyone behind the counter speaks Italian, and the boss scolds anybody that doesn’t get the pronunciation right in their order - it’s a proper joint. When you’ve got access to a place that does good lunchtime grub like this, it’s easy to sit back, hammer your wallet, and let someone else take care of things - even if you happen to have a blog that’s all about making your own damn sangers.
This sandwich is inspired by one of the hot, pressed meat and cheese focaccias from the deli - albeit with a few tweaks. First up, it’s cold, and not pressed… so, quite a big change, straight out of the gate! Why? Well, if you chuck focaccia in a panini press, it punches all the air out of it and makes it far too dense.
Next, the meat isn’t the Italian ham - it’s Belgian, and cut as thin as the deli slicer will allow. It’s also topped with some Milanese salami and a bit of fiery pepperoni for a salty, spicy kick. Finally, the cheese is slightly odd - it’s a geuze cheese, from Brussels, that uses a base of a lambic beer as part of the production process, rather than just using it as a wash. It’s a lot lighter than the provolone that’s in the deli sandwich, but it gives a creamy contrast to the salty meat and bread - you’ll hear more about this particular fromage in a later sandwich. On top, there’s a little salad and a blast of Sriracha to finish things off.
Ok, it’s pretty far from the deli original, but it takes the basic idea and builds on it with new ingredients and new flavours. Next time you’re in the shops, pick your favourite sandwich, and do it yourself. Just do it better.
The Butty was born with one simple goal: To bring back pride in the greatest lunchtime meal in the world – the sandwich.
The sandwich has lost its way. Once discussed in reverential tones amongst landed gentry, the butty has become a farce; a victim of its own popularity, crushed under the wheels of commerce as we dash from one meeting to another, grabbing lunch in a desperate, flailing attempt to satisfy our appetites with two slices of withered bread and a wet, unsatisfying filling. This is no way to live.
Amidst the massed ranks of ice-cold, expensive, tasteless junk that litters our supermarkets and chain stores, a deep-filled revolution is unfolding. We’re realising that we can do better ourselves – that with a little time and planning, fifteen minutes spent in the kitchen the evening before work can mean a joyous lunch hour the next day, laced with the envy of our colleagues and the dismay of the local sandwich shop, Thai takeaway and Italian caff. The packed lunch is back, and there’s not a soggy tuna sandwich or scotch egg in sight.
The Butty is here to lead and inspire – to encourage you to step away from the chill cabinet and the £3 meal deal, and to help you realise that you can craft something exceptional from a handful of fresh ingredients and a loaf of good bread.
It’s time to make a stand. But more than that – it’s time to make a sandwich.
When you’re searching for the perfect combo of comfort food and blatant innuendo, there really isn’t much out there that can compete with a meatball sub. Moist, succulent balls and sauce capable of driving an atheist to confession make this the sandwich equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey, albeit with a lot more guilt and a higher chance of inappropriately soiled trousers. Ooft.
Smut aside, this sandwich effort was for a special event. You don’t make meatballs in small numbers, and with about 1.3kg of casually seasoned pork and beef mince going into one batch, the 70 or so little hand-rolled nuggets were perfect party fuel for their destination on the nibbles table at a birthday in South-West London.
With the freshly-crafted balls sliding in to roast in the oven, the devil’s own marinara went on the hob. Triple-tomato at its heart, with a potent blend of passata, diced sun-blushed tomatoes and sun-dried tomato paste, the absurdly rich sauce then had a decent-sized block of parmesan grated in to thicken things up. With the coronary risk sitting squarely around a 9.0, a good slosh of red wine and all the meaty cooking juices from the oven-roasted balls helped to push it up towards a perfect, near-lethal ten.
After a good simmer in the marinara, the balls were moist, succulent and ready to plop straight into play. Foregoing the classic sub for a cheeky part-baked baguette roll (possibly the greatest guilty pleasure in the bread world), a trio of balls went in each, with nothing more than a generous smear of Lurpak beneath, and a little leftover parmesan on the top. Save the chives in the meat itself and some fresh basil in the sauce, greenery really has no place here.
Sure, shirts were destroyed and arteries took a bit of a kicking, but with thunder, lightning and driving rain hammering down on the capital, it’s exactly the type of food you need to take a good house party on into the wee hours. Next time we get tricked by the apparent end of winter, slap a big pot on the hob and abandon any concept of healthy eating - it’s messy, hearty shit like this that’ll get you through.
The Day of the Butty
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and so far, few people have ever had the chance to pass judgement on the sandwiches you’ve seen on this site (save a few friends, and a lucky girl who’s had a good few of them for her lunch). This all changed on February 28th in Brewdog Camden - for one day only, The Butty took over a kitchen that had, until that point, only ever served the creations of Masterchef supremo Tim Anderson. Gulp.
Over lunch, pubgoers were given the chance to chow down on a trio of hearty sangers - including a Manchego, bacon and red pesto toastie that’s featured on this site in the past (see below) - before the main event packed out the bar in the evening.
Matched with a range of great beers selected by Brewdog’s very own Henry Hall (including a guest appearance from London’s very own Kernel Brewery), five courses of sandwiches were served up to a basement full of hungry Butty fans. Starting with a spicy jerk number, the menu wandered across the sandwich spectrum, following up with a mackerel baguette; a manchego and chorizo wedge; a classic Reuben and the nearly-famous Brewdog Brisket butty. It was a night filled with fantastic beers, and sandwiches that would make Scooby Doo smile.
The verdict? 200 sandwiches wiped out in 2 hours, and dozens of smiling, full and mildly pished guests suggest that The Butty’s not just about taking photos of food any more. When we say we’re bringing back the butty - we mean it.
The Butty would like to thank…
You all rock.
Pan-seared sesame tuna and fiery sweetcorn relish
There are a few notable butties that really drag the good name of the sandwich through the mud. Generally, they’re the rank, cheap ones that cost about a quid in the supermarket, or pop up from time to time on a tray when someone’s getting married, older or being laid to rest. Nobody in their right mind would point to them as their favourite, and frankly, It’s a shame - a damn shame, in fact.
The Butty has a seldom-discussed policy - No sandwich left behind - and it’s time to give it another airing. Previously, it’s been used to give the depressingly ubiquitous salmon and cucumber sarnie a new lease of life (Take a look), and today, it’s time to drag tuna and sweetcorn into the modern age.
First off - the tuna and sweetcorn combo is rank. The lack of texture from the soft tuna sludge contrasts horribly with the firm kernels of corn, giving little back than a slightly sweet tang, and the sensation of having just bitten through a ripe zit.
To counter this, the tuna itself has to come in a different form, with more bite, and more flavour. In this case, it’s rolled in sesame seeds and pan fried to seal the outside, leaving the centre pink and rare. Sliced thinly, the fish is served up with a little homemade sweetcorn relish - made with finely diced Habanero chilli, the flecks of pepper give the traditionally sweet relish a throaty kick. The whole thing’s finished with some wasabi leaves, and served up on thin, toasted sourdough.
About as far from the original as you can get, and certainly not within the £1 budget of its cold, clammy namesake. That said - If you want to do tuna differently, then you need to spend a little cash, make a little relish, and think outside the tin.
The Day of The Butty
I’ve taunted you, I’ve teased you, I’ve dragged it out for longer than is humane. And now, after all that, I’m just going to come out and tell you.
Brewdog and The Butty have decided to have some folk over for dinner, and we’d love you to come along.
From 7pm on February 28th, Brewdog Camden will be hosting the first ever Butty event - a five-course sandwich and beer extravaganza, giving you the chance to taste some of the fine sandwiches you’ve seen on this very blog, paired with some of the greatest craft beers ever to grace these fair isles. I’ll be on hand to talk you through the food, whilst Brewdog’s very own Henry Hall will be your guide through the beers he’s carefully selected for the evening. Take a look at the menu below if you’d like a sneaky peak…
Tickets are £25 (including sandwiches and beer tastings), and are available via firstname.lastname@example.org - we have a very small capacity for the event, so if you’re keen, be sure to get in touch quickly!
If you can’t make it in the evening, then don’t worry - come along during the day, when The Butty will be taking over the kitchen, and filling the menu with epic sandwich options.
Sandwiches and beer, all day long. We can’t wait to see you there. :D
Manchego, parmesan, bacon and red pesto toastie
It’s cold out. Actually, scratch that - it’s bloody freezing. It’s snowing up North and it’s not far from it in old London Town. It’s a day for staying in, not venturing out - for cozying up and plunging into a good book or a new season of your favourite TV show. Of course, you’ve got to eat, and what’s on your plate needs to marry up with your attempt at mild hibernation. Best bet? Lots and lots of bubbly, molten cheese.
Ok, so cheese on toast isn’t really a sandwich - no top slice, and your filling sits open to the skies above. Still, it’s in the ballpark, and it’s perfect for a brisk day like today, so shift your mind from fillings to toppings, and go with it. This cheesy beast features molten Manchego and parmesan, layered over smoked back bacon, all finished off with a rich red pesto and Tabasco on top.
Quick, hot, and as comforting as a duvet infront of a warm fire. Break out that boxed set, and fire up the grill - it’s time for a cheese dream or two.
Five-spice aromatic duck with pickled cucumber
Duck must be one of the worst-used sandwich fillings out there. 99% of the time, when you pick up a duck sandwich, it’s going to be the painfully ubiquitous ‘duck and hoi-sin wrap’, or some derivation distinguished by slightly different marketing waffle. The sauce is overly sweet and cloying, the wrap like something you’d apply to a wound, and the salad completely devoid of purpose, other than being complicit in masking the pitiful amount of bird that’s actually in the thing.
This supermarket sandwich stalwart is a finger-paint forgery of an old master. Everyone in the known world loves crispy aromatic duck, served with pancakes, spring onion and plum sauce (well, vegetarians excepted). The meat is rich, the skin deliciously crisp, and the pancakes just thick enough to hold it all together, without getting in the way of the flavour. It’s perfect. You don’t meddle with things this good.
Cold duck in a clammy tortilla is no way to pay homage to this epic piece of Anglo-Chinese cuisine, so today’s butty treads a slightly different path in an effort to treat our feathered friend with a little more respect.
The duck itself is a bargain deal from the local supermarket - with the gluey sauce and pancakes given the heave ho, a little extra five-spice seasoning on the surface gives even more flavour to the crispy skin. A big handful of shredded meat goes in a freshly-baked ciabatta roll to kick things off, followed by some thinly sliced spring onions - one part of the aromatic experience that really does work in a sarnie. Under the top slice, a thin spread of mustard and some thinly sliced cucumber (pickled with coriander seeds and dill) give some sweetness and a fiery kick to the whole thing, and keep the meat moist.
What you end up with is a big, tasty roll, honouring the duck’s gamey, hearty meat and spiced, crispy skin. It works because it doesn’t try to create a knock-off of the aromatic classic, but rather takes the best bits, and does something different. Forget the wrap, and leave the sauce alone. Basically - don’t fuck with the duck.
Manchego with Iberico De Bellota chorizo and Belazu chilli jelly
Moaning about sandwiches is never a good thing to do (well, unless you write a blog. Then it’s fine). It’s an even worse idea when the proprietor of what’s a very pro-sandwich site happens to be hovering nearby, waiting for his chicken and houmous wrap to be flicked out of the toasting press in his local. The issue? “The posh sandwiches”. Errr…
After listening to the curmudgeon in question attempt to remedy the situation by prising a cheese salad sandwich out of the proprietor, today’s experiment was born. Cheese salad is usually dull as mud, but this effort - a strong, two-fingered salute to the status quo of dairy-based butties - addresses the problem by doing two things differently. One, it uses good cheese, and two, it adds a sprinkling of meat.
The cheese in question is Manchego, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese, with a texture that’s halfway between parmesan and cheddar, and a surprisingly creamy, nutty flavour. On top, a scattering of leftover Iberico Bellota chorizo, pan-fried with a little extra smoked paprika and ground pepper to add a bit of spice, as well as some thinly sliced spring onions. There’s no thick sauce or relish on this, just a smear of Belazu smoked chilli jelly on top of the cheese. Light as you like, with a little added heat.
As ever, use good ingredients, and the most boring butty will kick the doors off when it comes to opening your lunchbox. When it comes to a good sandwich, there’s nothing wrong with doing something that’s a little bit 1%, now and again. Just take a look around before you tell anyone what you’ve made… some people might not approve.
Lazy jerk chicken and sweet red peppers
Spicy food’s as much about the challenge as it is the taste. That might seem a little sado-masochistic, but it’s true. There’s nothing more disappointing than laying into something you’ve grabbed at the shop, marked up with a terrifying number of chillies and warnings of its potentially face-melting properties, only to discover it barely tickles the tongue, rather than delivering a perfect, fiery dropkick to the face. Jerk chicken can easily suffer this fate.
Truth be told, this sandwich isn’t jerk chicken in the truest sense, but it’s a bastardisation of the finest quality. Firstly, there’s no charcoal cooking involved. Why? It’s November. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s usually raining, so outdoor grilling is off the agenda.
Secondly, Jerk chicken traditionally uses Scotch Bonnet chillies, which sit between 100k and 350k on the Scoville scale - a regular green chilli will top out about 8k. It’s a spicy sauce. Due to an irritating lack of Boab’s Bonnets, as they’re also known, this sanger actually uses Bird’s Eye chillies, which have a slightly less explosive rating of between 100-150k. Don’t be fooled, they’re still entirely capable of causing some serious damage - hence the gloves.
Everything else is on the money. Along with the chillies (there were at least a couple more in the sauce by the end, due to continual tasting and fettling), the jerk blend is basically a mix of a few key spices, ground together - allspice; cinnamon; nutmeg and corriander seeds, along with thyme; garlic; some lime; ginger and some decent salt/pepper action. It’s worth trying out your own measures of each, but just make sure you put in a bit more allspice and cinnamon than the other spices. Your blend can either be rubbed into the skin dry, or wet - in this case, dark honey, Worcestershire sauce and a good glug of oil went in the mix, before the thighs were smothered and bunged in the oven.
The end result - once the chicken’s shredded off the bone, and mopped around in the jerk sauce - is absurdly moist and fragrant, with a spicy fire that really meddles with your sinuses and singes your lips. You’ll need a strong bread, like a dense bagel or a good, crusty baguette to handle the saucy meat, and a handful of sliced Peppadews to give a sweet twinge to the whole butty.
It’s not summer, and the weather sure as hell isn’t anything like the Caribbean, as you’re all too aware. Thing is, that just makes the roaring heat of a good, spicy lunch, and the slightly sweaty brow that accompanies it all the more satisfying. Just remember the chilli gloves - your girlfriend will thank you for it later.