Experimentation is a good thing - the problem with it is that sometimes, it goes a bit wrong. Frankenstein’s monster, Tab Clear, Marmite… everyone knows that there are some things that really should have been left unmade. Sadly, yesterday’s sandwich was one of those - a slightly odd concoction involving cod and prosciutto that missed the mark in a manner that you’d expect from a pished darts player.
To make up for it, today’s butty is a classic - not an attempt at playing safe, but a determined effort to great a sandwich that will get your saliva glands going, good and proper. Welcome to the Club.
Like on a heavy Saturday night in town, when it comes to lunchtime, you can always have a bit of a fun with a club. This tower of power features oven-cooked turkey breast - not chicken - at the core, seasoned with tumeric and sliced wafer thin to keep everything suitably tender. Adding to the Scooby-Doo styling is some thick-cut, smoked back bacon, ripe tomatoes and a few slices of Emmental cheese. As a final flourish, there’s some chopped up baby gem (avoiding big chunks of stalk), and a smear of some smoky, sweet jerk hot sauce under the top slice.
The Club is one of those butties that makes you smile - it genuinely looks like a cartoon sandwich, rammed with so much flavour and colour that you can’t help but feel a little tinge of pride when a colleague scowls at your plate. Bask in it.
Last year, my flatmate caught me in the kitchen making a sandwich for my lunch at work the next day, and told me I should take a photo of it. I’d scored some discount pork tenderloin medallions on a random trip to the supermarket, and had bought so many I’d decided to chuck the leftovers into a butty. That photo went on Facebook, and the original Butty Wordpress blog came soon after. A few months, a couple of hundred Twitter fans and thousands of pageviews later, we’ve arrived here, with branding made by a colleague for a secret santa present, and a gleaming new Tumblr site. Ladies and gentlemen - sandwich lovers the world over - it’s time stand up, charge your glass and doff your cap, as we celebrate the fiftieth butty.
Like any celebration falling on a weekday, I didn’t plan anything special, but knew something cheeky, and most likely messy, would fall together at the last minute. After picking up a couple of Dover Sole at the supermarket, and finding myself forced to learn how to fillet them at 10pm, I figured I’d buggered it up entirely.
With m’lady having created a delicious mayonnaise for the occasion from scratch, and all the ingredients bought and paid for, I made the only call possible - accepting that it was going to be a late one, and firing up the oven like a sandwich-crafting champ.
The chicken thighs went in a baking tray with a good squeeze of lemon juice, a grind of pepper, and a good dusting of smoked paprika, before hitting the middle shelf of the oven until cooked through. With the bacon under the grill, the chicken was left to cool down, before being sliced up and scattered over some mayo-smothered bread. Checking on the sliced swine, the avocado was hacked up thickly enough to keep a bit of bite and was added to the sanger, along with some sun-dried toms and the now-cooked back bacon. Sweet, succulent, buttery, smoky… straight up mastication magnificence.
Fifty sandwiches ago, I had no idea where the hell that photo of my lunch was going to lead. Right now, I’m thinking about where things might be after another fifty butties, and to tell you the truth, I’m pretty excited about how deep this sandwich-filled rabbit hole might go.
Thanks to you all for reading, and stay tuned… things are just getting interesting.
Mozzarella, tomato & basil
If you know me, you’ll know a man who thinks that there’s little better than a slab or two of recently slaughtered animal to go between the two slices of bread in my lunchbox. That said, I’m happy to admit that after several years in the ‘I’m-only-eating-nuggets’ wilderness as a child, I’m now a firm fan of a less meaty filling, should the occasion call for it. Today’s sandwich came from a casual chat with a friend at The Butty’s favourite pub –The Euston Tap. His better half had requested a creation with a more Italian theme, and well, who are we to say no to a lady?
This is a simple sandwich with fairly subtle flavours – no sticky sauces, and no big salads. First things first, the bread’s a fresh ciabatta – baked, cut in half, then grilled to crisp the inside (important, as the ingredients here are very moist). Inside, there’s thick sliced organic vine tomatoes, ripe and tasty. Crap tomatoes will ruin this sandwich, as they’re providing so much of the flavour – if you skimp here, there’ll be no taste at all come lunchtime. On top of the toms, sliced mozzarella – tearing is an option, but cutting it thick means you get a bit more bite in the butty. Finally, the garnish is simple a few fresh basil leaves, a few glugs of balsamic across the top of everything, and a grind of black pepper. As an extra, there’s a dusting of grated parmigiano reggiano that I had left over from my dinner (Jamie Oliver’s Proper Bloke’s Sausage Fusilli – well worth a go, by the by) – should keep things nice and tart.
Of course, if you’re making this the night before, then you might find yourself with a little to spare… so grab a slice of wholemeal, toast it, put on a scraping of butter (or, even better, a splash of extra virgin olive oil). Then just dice up whatever tomato you’ve got left, rip up the leftover mozzarella, and finish with some balsamic – that way, you’ll know what you’ve got to look forward to in the morning.
I hate iceberg lettuce. It’s one of the blandest vegetables out there, and given the range of other salad you can easily get, I think it’s only right to play around with something new in its place. So I’ve added to the iceberg in this case with some other mixed salad leaves, and a good grind of black pepper.
The bacon is oak-smoked back from Wiltshire, and I’ve gone all out with it – a trio of rashers in each. The toms are nothing at all special, but I’ve added a good sprinkling of basil to them, and a little Worcestershire sauce for a bit of poke.
It’s still the classic we all know, but with a little bit here and there to give it a unique taste.