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Spicing up the sandwich?

moonbrain Jul 20, 2011 12:23 AM

So I'm seeing this new guy and it's his birthday this week, I want to make him a nice semi-fancy dinner to celebrate. His favorite kind of food is a sandwich, or anything sandwich style (he counts burritos and calzones as "sandwichy"). Like I said, I want it to be kind of on the fancier side, so I'm wondering if any of you have interesting suggestions of a more unusual or upscale sandwich recipe. I'm totally new to this, just started eating sandwiches last year! Any suggestions welcome. Thanks! :)

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  1. k
    katecm RE: moonbrain Jul 20, 2011 09:41 AM

    Definitely focus on quality of ingredients, especially starting with good bread. Is he a big meat eater? Maybe slices of seared filet with sauteed onions and mushrooms and blue cheese on a nice ciabatta? Or if you want something more casual, a cubano is always delicious (and hard to get a good one in restaurants).

    Oh, or a banh mi!

    1. c
      ChiliDude RE: moonbrain Jul 20, 2011 10:29 AM

      Philadelphia is renowned for the hoagie (hero, sub, etc. in other locals). Get a nice crusty long roll, slice it almost in 2 lengthwise. Get some thinly sliced capocollo (often misspelled as capocoli, capicola, gabagool, and other bastardizations), some thinly sliced prosciutto, thinly sliced Genoa salami, thinly sliced provolone, shred some Romaine lettuce, slice some tomato, slice some red onion, and have some extra virgin olive oil and dried oregano handy. Some form of pickled hot peppers often referred to as peperoncini (generic term in Italian for hot peppers) on the jar label. Build a sandwich (un panino imbottito) with these ingredients starting by drizzling the olive oil on 1 half of the roll and carefully sprinkle the oregano on the oil, add the shredded lettuce and the tomato slices, finally adding the cold cuts.

      Vivi, ama, ridi e mangia bene! Buon appetito! (Live, love, laugh and eat well!)

      BTW, i miei antenati non erano italiani, ma i nonni di mia moglie erano italiani.

      Translated: My ancestors were not Italians, but my wife's grandparents were Italian.

      ChiliDude, IBM (Italian By Marriage)

      4 Replies
      1. re: ChiliDude
        porker RE: ChiliDude Jul 21, 2011 06:22 PM

        I love this style of sammich.
        I like to chiffonade fresh basil outta the garden for this. In place of peperoncini, I adore a mixed, hot giardiena in olive oil.

        1. re: porker
          vday RE: porker Jul 21, 2011 07:39 PM

          same as I was thinking - fresh basil on many sandwiches is extremely good:-)

          1. re: porker
            ChiliDude RE: porker Jul 22, 2011 10:57 AM

            Whatever floats your boat! Do you make the giardiena from scratch or do you buy it in a jar? If you make it, which vegetables do you include?

            1. re: ChiliDude
              porker RE: ChiliDude Jul 22, 2011 12:46 PM

              I never made it from scratch - just the jar. But for sandwiches, I like it to be hot (with hot peppers) and in olive oil (not just pickled). I'm working on a jar of Aurora right now
              Even though I scoop the stuff out with a fork, enough hot oil comes along to whet the bread!

              chefathome below suggests ajvar spread. I love this stuff too (again the hot version). I'm about 3/4 done a Cedar brand jar right now.

        2. ithimis RE: moonbrain Jul 20, 2011 12:01 PM

          The sharp Italian or cubano recommended above are outstanding recommendations but for me my "celebration" sandwich would be a muffuletta if you can get, (or are up to making), the roll. I agree with katecm that a good sandwich starts with a good bread or roll.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ithimis
            Gio RE: ithimis Jul 20, 2011 01:34 PM

            A muffuleta was what I immediately thought of also. Here's a link to the original recipe as written by Marie Lupa Tusa, the daughter of the originator :


            Easy to make, tasty and always a hit. Go to an Italian market to get the freshest and best of ingredients, including the bread.

            A tossed salad ,as another poster mentioned, and his favorite dessert and you have a party...

            1. re: Gio
              ChefJune RE: Gio Jul 21, 2011 12:43 PM

              Another vote for a Muffuletta. Make it a party. It feeds a crowd.

          2. JEN10 RE: moonbrain Jul 20, 2011 12:11 PM

            Slow roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, salt and pepper on country bread, grilled. Serve with a nice salad of greeens with nectarine slices and procciuto. All recipes can be found in Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking.

            1. ROCKLES RE: moonbrain Jul 20, 2011 01:09 PM

              How about a nice tri-tip on ciabatta bread. As katecm says with sauteed mushrooms and onions.
              Or if he is into the deli style sandwiches a nice roastbeef with everything--check a deli menu on line for all the trimmings.

              Now on the other hand there are individual beef wellingtons that are amazing and sandwich "like" as they are breaded and then tender and amazing on the inside, with a nice bottle of wine (or stout), a twice baked potato and a salad.


              1. ChristinaMason RE: moonbrain Jul 20, 2011 01:14 PM

                How about banh mi, a Vietnamese street food sandwich? They are delicious by virtue of all their contrasting textures and intense, well-balanced flavors. Here's a good starting point: http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/...

                NYT on the sandwich's popularity: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/din...
                On fillings: http://battleofthebanhmi.com/fillings...

                Tip: the bread for this should not be as hard and chewy as your traditional baguette. It should be a little more airy and soft on the inside, crunchy/flaky on the outside. I find that par-baked baguettes from the bakery work perfectly when you finish them off at home---and as a bonus, you get to serve them warm.

                p.s. don't forget to serve with a cup of pho-style beef broth spiced with clove, star anise, bay leaf, garlic, ginger, black pepper, etc.

                1. d
                  DWB RE: moonbrain Jul 21, 2011 09:02 AM

                  Are you dating Joey from "Friends"?

                  1. chefathome RE: moonbrain Jul 21, 2011 12:30 PM

                    Why not try ajvar spread in addition to luscious toppings? It is amazing and is comprised of roasted eggplant and peppers and originates in Eastern Europe (my favourites are from Croatia but I also like to make my own - lots of recipes online).

                    1. ROCKLES RE: moonbrain Jul 21, 2011 12:35 PM

                      did you see the "Big Bread Sandwich" discussion??

                      1. w
                        wattacetti RE: moonbrain Jul 21, 2011 01:22 PM

                        Based on your description, anything wrapped in or between pieces of some starch classifies as a sandwich then.

                        I immediately thought of kurobota or mangalista pork belly banh mi, but others have already mentioned that.

                        Variations: arepa. Steamed bun. Tamales (sort of sandwich-y). Empanada (Raza, one of the restaurants here in Montreal, makes empanadas filled with pork shoulder and foie gras).

                        Unusual may not necessarily be a good thing depending on the guy's taste. I'm sure that there's not a lot of people who would eat braised squirrel with head cheese on raisin toast.

                        What else does he like outside of starch wrappers?

                        1. t
                          tochowchick RE: moonbrain Jul 21, 2011 03:52 PM

                          Great bread....lovely fresh tomatoes....pesto....and whatever you think would float his boat....I do like the idea of seared flank steak sliced thinly with this combo...along with some caramelized onion...mmmmm

                          1. porker RE: moonbrain Jul 21, 2011 06:31 PM

                            Charcoal grilled hot Italian sausage, split in a crusty roll with whole grain mustard on bottom, fried onion and pickled hot peppers/sauerkraut on top.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: porker
                              ChiliDude RE: porker Jul 22, 2011 11:00 AM

                              Marrone!! E' fare me affamato...Buon appetito!

                              1. re: porker
                                Gio RE: porker Jul 23, 2011 10:22 AM

                                OK... I'll see your "Charcoal grilled hot Italian sausage, split in a crusty roll" but grill the peppers and onions then slice and toss in a bowl with a balsamic/ minced garlic/S & P/dried oregano/EVOO dressing. Loose the whole grain mustard and sauerkraut. Let the juices and dressing of the sausages and peppers moisten the bread. Now that's a proper sausage and pepper La Festa sandwich. Oh all right... you can drizzle the inside of the roll with a little more EVOO if you need to.

                                1. re: Gio
                                  JEN10 RE: Gio Jul 23, 2011 01:02 PM

                                  uuuuuuuuummmmmmmmMMMMMMMMM, love me a good sausage and pepper sangwhich. Might have to cook some of these up this weekend.

                              2. porker RE: moonbrain Jul 21, 2011 06:48 PM

                                Get yourself an inside round roast, preferably barded with pork fat. Sear on all sides in a dutch oven with a bit of oil. Add beef stock, cover, and braise until center is 120F (rare). Remove to a tray and let cool. Take off the pork fat and put it into the stock pot, simmer 15-20 minutes. Season with S&P, paprika.
                                Slice meat as thin as possible. If the meat is too rare, dip the slices briefly into the hot jus. Slice a crusty roll in half, dip into the jus, top with sliced meat. Put a few bits of the pork fat if so inclined.

                                1. u
                                  ultrabright RE: moonbrain Jul 21, 2011 07:33 PM

                                  Check out this shooter sandwich. I haven't made it myself but it looks very good.


                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: ultrabright
                                    GraydonCarter RE: ultrabright Jul 22, 2011 12:00 PM

                                    Wow. The smushing step came as a surprise.

                                    1. re: ultrabright
                                      ChristinaMason RE: ultrabright Jul 22, 2011 01:29 PM

                                      wow, just wow. that looks amazing!

                                    2. mamachef RE: moonbrain Jul 21, 2011 09:24 PM

                                      We love rare smoked tri-tip with onion marmalade and melted smoked sharp cheddar, with a topper of fresh sliced tomatoes and a slash of sharp garlic aioli on toasted ciabatta. You could also consider a fresh seafood sandwich: Lobster roll, Softshell crab sandwich, Prawn salad sandwich, fresh tuna salad melt with delicious fontina on sourdough with more sliced tomato. Another favorite of ours is proscuitto and gruyere and arugula and marinated artichoke hearts in a panini - or roast beef with pimiento cheese and bread and butter pickles. Sandwiches Rule!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: mamachef
                                        OldJalamaMama RE: mamachef Jul 21, 2011 09:46 PM

                                        Foccacia- smear tapanade on both sides of bread. add tuna- artichoke hearts, chiffinade of basil, squeeze of lemon, thinly slivered red onion and avocado if you like. a thin stream of olive oil, if you please. cut in half, wrap. should be scrumptious in an hour or so!

                                        1. re: OldJalamaMama
                                          mamachef RE: OldJalamaMama Jul 22, 2011 12:33 PM

                                          Keeper. And I am also thinking about mixing some of that tapenade into some mashed white beans as a spread.....Oh, my this is nice.

                                          1. re: mamachef
                                            OldJalamaMama RE: mamachef Jul 25, 2011 10:02 AM

                                            this is also a heck of a salad- bed of greens- balsamic dressing- spread tuna right from the pouch over greens- artichoke hearts- a squeeze of lemon- basil - red onion- avocado and I like a bit of cucumber too- and olive oil- SCRUPTIOUS! We call it a #17 at my work!

                                      2. Cheese Boy RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 12:15 AM

                                        Fresh mozzarella added to a sandwich is very nice. Sliced avocado is the new latest and greatest fad (if you haven't had tortas and cemitas before I guess). For heat, try chipotle or sliced jalapenos.

                                        1. a
                                          Altarbo RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 12:45 AM

                                          As a guy, I like meat. If he likes meat, start with the meat. Pair the bread and the dressing to the meat.

                                          For example . . .
                                          - Roast Beef with caramelized onion, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, American cheese, and provolone on toast.
                                          - Rotisserie Chicken with mustard powder, ripe jalapeno, cheddar sauce, boiled broccoli, and herbs folded into a pizza dough before it's fork-sealed and deep-fried like an evil beignet.
                                          - Pulled Pork with guacamole, sour cream, tomato, onion, iceberg lettuce, canned beans, and shredded cheese on a hot dog bun.
                                          - Fried Chicken with a fried mozzarella disc, marinara, lettuce, and tomato on a hamburger bun.
                                          - Strips of Lamb with roasted eggplant pulp, tahini, Parmesan cream sauce, capers, and onion on flat-bread.
                                          - Fried Shrimp with lettuce, tomato, and gravy (or ketchup) on french bread.
                                          - Hamburger with internal cheddar, BBQ sauce (or mayo), caramelized onions, and sauteed mushrooms on hamburger buns brushed with butter and toasted and garlic-rubbed bruschetta style.
                                          - Prosciutto, Salami, and Cappicola with romaine lettuce, marinated peppers, onion, provolone cheese, and vinaigrette pressed hot on poboy bread.

                                          1. ROCKLES RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 10:57 AM

                                            French Dip sounds good too

                                            1. GraydonCarter RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 12:07 PM

                                              It is too hot out. How about Brie, Apple, Arugula, Chicken Salad?

                                              Or a ploughman's sandwhich... Stilton, cold cooked ham slices, pâté, apple, pickled onions, salad, crusty bread and butter, served with beer.

                                              1. m
                                                Matahari22 RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 12:56 PM

                                                Another vote for muffuletta. Or my favorite sandwich sounds deceptively simple, but it was all about the quality of the ingredients. Fresh crusty semolina bread, topped with sesame seeds, a good drizzle of EVOO, good proscuitto, fresh Mozzerella, fresh roasted red peppers tossed in EVOO and garlic.

                                                1. porker RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 01:01 PM

                                                  I was thinking of you today, moonbrain, as I had a sandwich and a half for lunch. The first was a concoction of prosciutto and hot cappicolli (yeah, ChiliDude - more bastardization) topped with a spicy giardiniera on a very fresh roll. Wonderful for this hot day.
                                                  I splurged with a half more, but went for simplicity: 3 slices of San Danielle proscuitto on a half roll. It was superb, with the bread mingling with the meltingly salty, fatty meat....

                                                  1. toodie jane RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 01:09 PM

                                                    I'd say, since you're new at fancy sandwiches it'd be better to keep it simple, using the highest quality ingredients.

                                                    Good bread is the best start, the fresher the better, but make sure the crust is not so hard it'll carve up the roof of his mouth.

                                                    BBQ up some slices of eggplant on a covered BBQ. Add them to any sandwich with some thinly sliced rolled basil leaves (chiffonade) add some fresh mozzarella, and oh man, makes anything taste better. Points for melted mozzarella.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: toodie jane
                                                      1sweetpea RE: toodie jane Jul 22, 2011 01:47 PM

                                                      I love making a tuna and white bean salad with olive oil, red wine vinegar, celery, shallot, garlic, herbs, red bell peppers, black olives, salt, pepper and capers. I then get a long ciabatta loaf or baguette, slice it lengthwise, but not completely in two halves. Dig out most of the soft inside bread. Save for another use. Line inside of bread with a few leaves of baby lettuces and stuff sandwich with tuna salad. Place top half on the bottom half, wrap and let set for a bit for flavours to meld. This is a very hearty and satisfying sandwich, perfect with a light, broth-based soup, such as stracciatella or chicken with spring vegetables.

                                                    2. yummyinmytummy RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 04:27 PM

                                                      Because it is a "new guy" don't go crazy. I would make a picnic on the floor of your house. Add candles etc to set the tone and mood of your picnic.

                                                      As for what you serve.....i would not make him a sandwich, nothing fancy about it. You can make a bunch of different foods using bread, meats, veggies and dips and keep it nice but a little NICER than a sammie.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: yummyinmytummy
                                                        GraydonCarter RE: yummyinmytummy Jul 25, 2011 11:37 AM

                                                        That would turn me on. Crusty bread, cheeses, pate, wine. Nice.

                                                      2. L.Nightshade RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 04:44 PM

                                                        It sounds like his definition of sandwich is broad. He likes food enclosed by a starch. I'd make something like empanadas, but not necessarily with traditional fillings. You can make a plate of them with various fillings, meats, vegetables, maybe some mixed with cheese. If you don't want to bother with homemade pastry, you could totally cheat and use frozen puff pastry. Serve them with a nice composed salad and it could be quite special, and a little bit different.

                                                        1. David11238 RE: moonbrain Jul 22, 2011 05:17 PM

                                                          Where do you live, if I may ask? Some CH'er living near you will probably recommend some places to buy quality ingredients to create the kind of sandwich you decide to gift your b/f. And remember, too, quality ingredients doesn't have to mean fancy or complicated. I made a bone marrow spread with whole smoked cod livers on folded sourdough toast which, if I may say so, was pretty frigging delicious.

                                                          1. a
                                                            AdamD RE: moonbrain Jul 23, 2011 01:11 PM

                                                            rare tenderloin, watercress, shaved parm and horsey sauce on the best roll baguette style bread you can find

                                                            1. a
                                                              Altarbo RE: moonbrain Jul 25, 2011 03:21 AM

                                                              Hope your evening was . . . tasty.


                                                              1. a
                                                                astam RE: moonbrain Jul 25, 2011 03:56 AM

                                                                if you want to go simple u can go with a basic meatloaf sandwich: http://www.chow.com/recipes/18773-spi... or to go a little fancier try http://joyof.kosher.com/recipe/guinne...

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