Porchetta, salsa verde, and French bean, mangetout, hazelnut and orange zest salad
Way, way back, one of the first sandwiches on this blog was knocked up using a few bits of pork tenderloin, and since then, it’s featured on a few other occasions in various guises. It appears again in today’s butty, albeit as a supporting actor in a much larger, grander production - the mighty, mighty Porchetta. The basic concept is a large, rolled joint of pork, laced with various herbs, and slowly roasted in the oven at a low temperature. The end result is an unbelievably moist cut of meat that lends itself to either a ton of fresh, piping hot sandwiches, or a big roast dinner, followed by a few days of stacked, cold butties - both are good.
This particular porchetta weighed in at just under 4kg, made up of 3.5kg of fresh pork belly, wrapped round a 400g tenderloin, like a giant, meaty jam roll. The fat on the outside of the belly is key - it renders down during cooking, and seals in all the moisture. That said, you need to trim off whatever fat would roll up inside the finished joint, otherwise the end result will be too fatty (use a sharp, sharp knife, and keep the slab of fat too make some amazing crackling). Basically - make sure the only thick fat is on the outside of the roast.
In between the loin and the belly, there’s a ton of finely chopped garlic (6 or so cloves), fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and of course, herbs. Again, there’s a whole load of variations on this front, but in this case it’s a big pile of finely chopped flat leaved parsley, sage, lemon thyme and rosemary (a generous handful in total, once chopped). All of these are spread over inside of the belly, creating a layer which spirals out from the centre as the bigger joint is wrapped around the tenderloin, before being tied tightly.
This is then placed in deep tray in a hot oven, cooked for about ten minutes (fat pointing up) at 230c, flipped, and cooked for another 10 on the bottom. The joint is then flipped back over, the tray’s covered with foil, and goes back in the oven for about 3 - 3.5 hours at 150c, until the core is above 65c and the juices run clear (use a temperature probe to be sure). You really have to screw up badly to overcook it, given how low the temperature in the oven is - remember to check the weight, as bigger/smaller joints will have different cooking times.
If you’re serving it straight away, just butter a roll, carve the meat fairly thick, and ladle on some of the cooking juices from the pan. Job done. However, if you’re eating it cold, then cut it thin, pile it high on a ciabatta bun, and serve it with some salsa verde - the spicy, herbaceous flavour really boosts the greenery in the meat. In terms of salad, spinach or broccoli are traditional, but as a bit of a curveball, try Ottolenghi’s French bean, mangetout, hazelnut and orange peel salad. It’s a piece of piss to make, and the citrus really cuts through the earthy meat (the recipe’s available from plenty of places online, or from this book).
A big post for a big bit of meat, and a truly massive sandwich. Like the muffuletta, it’s a monster of a project to actually make, and will cost you a fair few quid to pull together - the meat for this one ran to about £30, all told. However, given it fed six people as the mainstay of a big, sit-down dinner, and left several days’ worth of sandwich fodder, it’s actually a bit of a steal in the long run. So, just make sure you’ve got friends to feed and a big fridge - one cannot live by porchetta alone, sadly.
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.
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This blog started out showing that you can make awesome sandwiches, simply, for no more than it’d cost for a ropey, clammy meal deal. Most of the time that’s still the case, but today’s sandwich totally abandons pretty much all of that. The Muffuletta is, without doubt, the most fiddly bloody sandwich that’s ever appeared on here, and in terms of all things bready, costs a relative fortune to make.
Parma Ham, Gorgonzola and Fig ciabatta
The combination of ingredients in this sandwich is nothing new - stick cheese, ham and figs in Google and you’ll find 1001 recipes for bundles, parcels and amuse bouches featuring the trio. The surprise is that I, as the authour, don’t like figs. To that end, this is the sandwich that should never have been, at least in terms of this blog. The inspiration (or moment of clarity) for this butty came from annihilating a handful of these very parcels at a boozy party, before being told that they were full of fig. Preconceptions were shattered, more were scoffed, and this sandwich was born, immediately.
Now, if you’re in the UK, this isn’t fig season, so you’ll have to use the dried version. Although roasting fresh figs would be a glorious option in the Autumn, the dried fruit has a resinous, caramel-like sweetness that works perfectly in the sandwich, so you’re not losing out. These are ripped up, and placed on top of a loose handful of Parma Ham in a fresh-baked ciabatta roll (use the part-bake ones from the supermarket, they work a treat). Try to get your ham freshly cut, as ever - even the deli counter in your local Sainsbury’s or Waitrose will likely have one they can cut up for you, and it is INFINITELY better than the 5-slice plastic packs you get on the shelf.
In terms of cheese, you’re looking for something with a big flavour to cut through the sweetness of the fig, and complement the salty, smoky flavour of the ham. Dunsyre Blue, or possibly a Stilton could do the job, but keeping the Mediterranean quality of the sandwich alive, this contains a Gorgonzola Dolce. Dolce is the less ferocious form of the Italian cheese, but still has a distinctive salty, spicy flavour. This spreads nicely under the top slice, and a little salad, seasoning and a dribble of balsamic finishes things off.
Despite the anachronism of the dried fruit, this feels like a very summery sandwich - definite picnic fodder. If you want to make it an a truly seasonal manner, then sure, wait until Autumn’s figs to arrive, but in the meantime, you’re missing out on a hell of a butty - and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even like figs, apparently.
Just after the start of the new year, The Butty took a trip across the pond to visit the shining beacon of sandwich goodness that is New York City. And got a bit fat. Amongst the world-famous delis of Katz and Carnegie, the city plays host to more mouthwatering uses of bread and filling than you could fit into a month of lunches, never mind the few days of this visit. That said, one of the holiday’s finest was actually served up at breakfast, rather than midday, and came from the bagel joint round the corner from the hotel - Murray’s.
Murray’s Bagels is/are amazing, whether you’re talking about the bakery or its produce. While the ordering process is classic NYC (don’t even think about going near the counter unless you can rattle off your order in under 3 seconds) they make even the best London Bagels look like anaemic pretzels. The dough has a glorious, glossy sheen and the interior has a smattering of bubbles and a lovely, slightly chewy texture. They’re also enormous, as you’d expect for a city famed for growing upwards, not out - the height and girth of them is enough when they’re empty, but when stacked with fillings, they’re utterly formidable.
Having fallen utterly in love, and based on the fact that transatlantic delivery is normally a ridiculous proposition, a dozen stowaways were hustled back into the UK via hold baggage, and frozen, ready to create today’s homage to the West Village.
This bagel’s based on a classic recipe - cream cheese and salmon. In addition to heaps of both (the top and bottom slices are smothered with a thick, thick layer of Philly), there’s some chopped capers along with dill, lemon juice and thinly sliced red onion and tomato. A little salt and pepper completes things, with the final sandwich sitting at about 4” from top to bottom - as the footlong hotdog has proven, the imperial system hoses all over metric measurements when it comes to showing off with food.
So there you go - when in NYC, go get a bagel at Murray’s in the West Village. But remember, order fast, loosen your belt, and be sure to get another dozen for when you’re back in the country that bagels forgot.
There’s busy, and then there’s busy. Over the last few weeks, it’s been a case of practicing what’s preached on here - making sure that time’s been taken to make and scoff a good lunch, even as all the world seems to be collapsing in around on you. You’ve missed the good, the bad, and the downright ugly, but needless to say, the sandwich has been the midday saviour that it always should be
Of course, that doesn’t matter to you guys - you’re owed a sandwich, not filler. This little puppy really is a product of its environment, in that it’s entirely scrounged from the local Waitrose between uni assignments, trips to lectures and periods of despair relating to word counts. It’s simple - a nice, fresh baguette, with a combination of prosciutto and salami making up the meat selection for the day. On top, there’s some of the creamiest mozzarella you’ve ever seen - tearing was attempted, but it was just too juicy. Definitely not one for the lunchbox, this would be mush after a few hours in tupperware. The greenery’s half a gem lettuce, and on top is a bit of a curveball - sugo ai peperoni, which claims to be a pasta sauce, but works nicely on here, giving a bit of a rich tomato and roast pepper flavour and going nicely with the milky cheese and salty meat.
Very much a make-and-eat number, as mentioned - you’ll no doubt find yourself in a similar spot, soon. Just remember that there’s no excuse for a bad sandwich, as long as your cupboards are stocked. Well, that or you have a posh supermarket round the corner from your flat. Either’s good.
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my airm. - Rabbie Burns
So, after a couple of years cavorting in the mean streets of the UK’s undisputed food capital, The Butty has upped sticks and moved to the first city of the Scottish empire, Edinburgh. To celebrate this joyous relocation, today’s sandwich is spearheaded by one of the most stereotypical and misunderstood foodstuffs in the world - the haggis.
First things first - yes, this is basically an offal butty. Made of the heart, liver, lungs and various other bits of the sheep, a haggis basically takes all the parts of an animal that most people would balk at eating, and shoves them all inside its own stomach with oats, onion and suet. It tastes amazing - the easiest way to describe it is like a coarse, moist mince with a deliciously earthy, spiced flavour (good haggis has a noticeable heat from the seasoning).
For this sandwich, the haggis is cooked for a good ninety minutes in the oven, wrapped in foil, and sitting in a pan of water to make sure it stays moist. You can get decent enough haggis in pretty much every supermarket these days - just be sure to get a whole one, rather than the ratty-looking slices.
Once the meat is cooked and you’ve slashed the bugger open to unleash its steamy contents, several big, heaped forkfuls of the innards go onto some well-buttered wholemeal toast. On top, there’s a few rashers of sweet US streaky bacon, and a handful of parsnip crisps - just use a peeler to shred a parsnip down to wafer-thin strips, coat with oil and bake in the oven until nice and crunchy.
The butty’s finished with a beetroot salad and a good spread of English mustard - it might be painful to use Sassenach’s Choice on such a Scottish sanger, but Coleman’s pairs perfectly with the earthy meat inside. If you want a little bit of extra sweetness, you can always add a little cranberry or redcurrant jelly.
Like the last sandwich on here, this really is great winter fodder - hearty, filling and warm. There’s a reason haggis has inspired poetry and has stuck around for over 500 years, and if you can handle the idea of filling your own innards with a sheep’s, then this will knock your stockings off. Pour yourself a dram, and get cooking.
Kudos to Deeny’s (@deenys on Twitter) who do an amazing haggis sandwich, and inspired this homecoming entry!
In the land of sandwich, there are quite a few that you could easily point to as being a bit ‘emperor’s new clothes’ - the posh crisps of the butty world, basically serving up the same taste, with slightly more pretentiously named ingredients. Of course, it’s worth shouting about provenance (you’ll see it all over this blog), but there’s no point in doing it if it doesn’t make any difference to the taste of what you’re eating.
It’d be simple enough to write the Croque Monsieur off as a classic example - a cheese and ham toastie in tarty knickers, as it were. But it’s so much more than that. The creamy béchamel on top, and fried bread beneath make this Frenchie a hell of a lot richer than your average cheddar / toast combo. It’s a meal, and a hearty one at that.
This effort actually breaks from convention a little. Replacing the ham inside is roasted pork loin, cut ridiculously thinly on a deli slicer - the taste is a little more savoury than ham, which can be a little sweet. On top of the pork: grated Gruyère, as is tradition - slightly strange, considering it’s a Swiss cheese, and this sandwich is as French as the Arc de Triomphe.
Having melted the meat and cheese together into a glorious, bubbling mass, supported beneath with the crustiness of a pan-fried slice of a good white loaf, the second slice seals the butty. On top, the béchamel is slathered on, before another visit to the grill renders it golden and magmatic.
It’s hot, it’s cheesy, and it’s probably a threat to your coronary health if consumed on a regular basis. Even if it’s not the idea lunchbox fodder, it’s exactly the type of thing you’ll want in your belly as the nights draw in.
Flatiron steak with chimichurri sauce
The steak sandwich an entry that’s been requested of this blog relentlessly over the last year. It’s one of the few hot sandwiches, alongside the cheese toastie and bacon sarnie, that you can guarantee virtually every omnivorous Brit on the planet has eaten at some point in their life. The classic nature is a problem - there’s certain expectations, and everyone claims their own version as superior. This steak was a response - a horrific, gristly, overcooked experience in a central London pub made it clear that it was time for The Butty to tackle this beefy mainstay.
First up - STEAK. You could blog about steak all the live long day, and still not even cover half of what makes it such an awesome foodstuff. Even while writing this, it’s clear there’s no way that the sandwich above is going to be the last variation on this meaty theme that you’ll see on here. At any rate, the meat in this beast is a butler’s steak, or flat iron, if you’re an American (or a glorious little London steak restaurant by the same name - check it out). It’s filled with a lovely amount of fatty marbling and very little gristle - exactly what you want for a tasty sandwich.
For this sandwich, the steak’s cooked medium rare - you don’t want it bloody as hell when you’re eating, or the bread will end up looking like a field dressing. Season it with salt and pepper, and chuck it into a screaming-hot dry pan, turning it regularly until it’s cooked to your preferred level. While that’s resting (vital for a juicy steak), you can knock up a Chimichurri sauce.
Chimichurri is basically just a whole bunch of flat leaf parsley (just the leaves); around eight cloves of garlic; a couple of red chillies (don’t use ferociously hot ones – this is about flavour, not heat); three teaspoons of oregano; about 75ml of red wine vinegar and 100ml of olive oil. You can blend it, but it’s better to chop it by hand – it gives a nice, coarse sauce rather than a green slurry. You can adjust the amount of olive oil to make it drier or wetter, but try to keep it about the same as a good pesto.
With some fresh ciabatta toasted and buttered and the meat rested, the steak’s cut into mouthful-sized morsels (nobody likes mauling at their sandwich like a miffed lion), and layered along the sandwich - on top, a liberal smattering of the Chimichurri and a small handful of rocket finishes things off.
A practical change that makes it easier to scoff, and a variation on the usual ketchup or mustard topping to make it a little more exciting to eat, but at the end of the day, it’s still the same steak sandwich you’ve always eaten. Just better in every way.