I’m thinking sandwiches…

I sandwich, you sandwich, we all sandwich at one time or another, right?  Chances are, for must of us, the first meal we ate that didn’t involve a spoon was some sort of sandwich, something between two pieces of something else.

Millions are consumed each day, trillions of memories feature them, bazillions of dollars are made from sandwiches. The sandwich is breakfast, lunch and dinner – the all around meal. It’s inexpensive, easy to make, easy to eat.

And it can be mind-numbingly dull.  Same ol’,  same ol’ sammich. Here are a few ways to tip the whole concept of sandwich on its ear…or at least keep your interest.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Tuna Sandwich
Serves 1

2 slices good quality white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed
3 ounce slice fresh tuna, about 1″ thick
1 egg yolk beaten with 1T water
2T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Flatten each slice of bread with a rolling pin. Trim the tuna who it will fit nicely on one slice of bread, leaving about 1/4″ border around the tuna. Brush one slice of bread, right to the edges, with egg yolk. Place the tuna in the center and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with the other slice of bread. Press the edges together to make a “package” – the egg will help seal it.

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the sandwich and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side for rare, 2 minutes per side for medium.

Remove from the pan and lightly pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess oil. Cut into quarters and serve.

Bobby Flay’s Lobster Taco
Serves 4

Juice of 2 limes
2t pureed chipote chiles in adobo
2t honey
1/4C extra virgin olive oil
2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, halved, seeded, diced
3T coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1T coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
2, 2 pound grilled lobsters
1/2C canola oil
8, 6″ flour tortillas
1 bunch watercress, coarsely chopped

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, boil the lobsters for 10-12 minutes. Drain well and let cool slightly. The lobsters can be cooked to this point a few hours in advance, covered and kept chilled. Bring to room temperature before grilling.

Heat your grill to high. Split each lobster lengthwise down the underside with a heavy knife, taking care not to cut through the back shell, so that the lobster is still in one piece but the inside is exposed. Brush the cut sides of the lobsters with the canola oil, season with salt and pepper.

Place lobsters cut side down on the grill and cook until lightly charred and heated through, 4-6 minutes. Let cool a few minutes. Remove meat from the shell, coarsely chop.

Whisk together the lime juice, chipotle puree, honey and oil in a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes, mint and cilantro, season with salt and pepper. Add the lobster meat, mix gently to combine.

Grill the tortillas for about 10 seconds per side to warm through and mark slightly. Fill each tortilla with some of the lobster mixture and top with some of the watercress. Serve.

Gourmet Magazine’s Grilled Cheddar, Pear and Chutney Sandwich
Serves 2

2T mango chutney, home made or store bought, minced
4 slices homemade or homemade-style whole-wheat bread
4 pounces sharp Cheddar, sliced thin
1/2 small, ripe, but still firm, pear, sliced thin
1 1/2T unsalted butter, melted

Spread the chutney on 2 of the bread slices, then divide half the Cheddar between the chutney-topped slices and divide the pear between them. Top each sandwich with the remaining Cheddar and remaining bread slices. Brush both sides of the sandwiches with the butter.

In a heavy skillet, cook the sandwiches over moderate heat, 2-3 minutes per side or until they are golden brown.

Patrick O’Connell’s Scallop, Ham and Pineapple “Sandwiches”
Serves 6

1C finely diced fresh pineapple
1t finely diced red onion
1/4t finely minced jalapeno pepper
1t finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
sugar to taste

In a small bowl, combine the pineapple, onion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro and olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. The relish may prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator overnight.

Sweet and sour fish sauce:
1C sugar
1/2C rice wine vinegar
1/2C tomato juice
2t fresh lemon juice
1T fish sauce

In a 1 quarter saucepan, combine the sugar and vinegar. Cook over medium high heat until the mixture turns amber in color and then remove the saucepan from the heat. Slowly, very carefully, whisk in the tomato juice. Whisk in the lemon juice and the fish sauce. This sauce can be made up to 5 days in advance, stored in the refrigerator and rewarmed before serving.

2T vegetable oil
1/4 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored and cut into 1/8″ thick slices
6 very large sea scallops
salt and white pepper to taste
3 slices country ham, cut into 1 1/2″ squares
12, 4″ rosemary sprigs

In a nonstick pan, heat 1T of the vegetable oil. Add the pineapple slices and cook until they are golden brown on both sides, then remove and keep warm.

Season the scallops with salt and white pepper. In the same nonstick pan, heat the remaining vegetable oil over high heat. Add the scallops to the hot pan and cook until they are golden brown on both sides. Do not overcook.

Slice the scallops in half crosswise. Sandwich a slice of pineapple and country ham between the two halves of each scallop. Using a serrated knife, slice each scallop sandwich in half and spear each half with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

To serve, place a scallop sandwich in the center of each serving plate and splash the Sweet-and-Sour Fish Sauce around the plate. Garnish with pineapple relish. Serve immediately.

As is the case with every dish, seek out and use the very best ingredients possible…the best breads, meats and seafood, herbs and spices. After all, great sandwiches are fine, not fast, food.

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All Rights Reserved 2009

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