Monday, September 10, 2012

Squished sandwich!

Paper-thin red onion, roasted red pepper, arugula, Genoa salami, provolone, Black Forest ham, tomato, and brown mustard on a whole wheat baguette

“But why are they squished?” someone asked me today as I rambled on about my lunch.

The truth is, I don’t know the historical reasons to press a sandwich. A cursory search of the Internet and a few cookbooks turned up nothing except the well-known fact that sandwiches do get pressed and that you can buy devices to accomplish this feat.

From my own experience, I can tell you that
  • The filling gets denser and the sandwich is much less likely to fall apart.
  • The bread does not merely teeter atop a pile of fixings; it is molded precisely to them. Like with German engineering. But you can’t eat German engineering.
  • You can have a good time slicing the sandwich with the panini knife your brother gave you for your birthday, if that’s how things happened in your family too.
  • Plus it is just a lot of fun to say “squished sandwich.” Squished sandwich!

The foundation, of course, is good bread. It needs to be substantial enough not to break apart, yet soft enough to give a bit, during the squishing process. Choose flavorful fillings, but avoid ones that will weep copious amounts of juice. Use a lot of thin-sliced items rather than equal volumes of thick-sliced items. Wrap the sandwich tightly in waxed paper or plastic film and weight it down overnight.

And, finally, make two of them at a time. The pressing involves balancing a weight on top of the sandwich. This is liable to topple off as the sandwich compresses. I made a little pontoon boat out of two sandwiches and a cutting board. Then I stacked on a case of sparkling water, three ears of corn, a bunch of carrots, some cucumbers, and a sweet potato. The whole pile stayed rock solid!

To serve your sandwich, just bring it up to room temperature, unwrap it, and slice it. Easy and fun!