Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tips From Rachel's Deli

My husband always tells me that I should open a deli because he enjoys my sandwiches. I always tell him that squishing deli meat and cheese between two slices of bread does NOT display any kind of culinary ability. But when he makes me a sandwich and I really do get just meat and cheese between two slices of plain bread....I will be honest and admit that I my sandwiches might be tasty. We are, like most, on a budget so buying gourmet ingredients is not always an option. So here are some of my criteria for an excellent sandwich.

1. Decent Bread
This is definitely where is all starts. I like baguette style with a crusty outside and somewhat softer and airy inside. Watch out for bread that is too dense. Dense bread can distract from other flavors and textures and also get stuck to the insides of your front teeth when you bite down....I hate that. Day-old bread from any local Jimmy Johns is only 50 cents and does the trick. I enjoy using JJ's bread and popping it in the oven for toasted version of your favorite sandwich.

2. Good Meat and Cheese Combos
This is also a very key element to a good sandwich. There is a reason why ham has always been paired with Swiss to form a flavor classic. Expensive deli meats and cheeses are not totally necessary, bit its very important to properly pair the flavors. For example, I would never put cheddar with salami. The sharp cheddar flavor would compete and offset the meat. Salami needs saltier counterpart like Provolone. My favorite combos are Salami/Ham/Provolone, Turkey/Havarti, & Chicken Breast/Gouda. Also, bacon makes everything better.

3. Meat Must be THINLY sliced
I always get my deli meat sliced very thin. I prefer it to be so thin that it is just on the verge of falling apart. I don't know why, but I swear it makes it taste better. Maybe its a texture thing....just like how Prosciutto also needs to be sliced paper thin. Also, get it wrapped in butcher paper (if possible) because it keeps the meat from getting slimy.

4. A Cold and Fresh Crunch

This is what sets apart a great sandwich from a good sandwich. Chilled veggies add delicious crunch, flavor and texture. I hate the shredded lettuce that come on Subway and Jimmy John subs. I like large pieces of Romaine. I also like thin slices of cucumber and tomato. Be sure to add pinch of salt on the tomato and cucumber. Basil is a good pairing with mozzarella...but go easy on fresh basil because it's flavor can be overwhelming. You can even branch out and try a thin apple slice.

5. Condiments
Peter isn't much of a condiment guy, but I know most people do enjoy them. He does, however, enjoy ranch or Italian dressing. I enjoy hummus (because hummus is yummus!) or a thin layer of Dijon.

6. Layering
I always layer very thin cheese slices between the meat and bottom bread and also between the lettuce and top bread. This protects the bread should their be any moisture from the meat or from the tomato or lettuce. Also, if the bread it toasted, then it allows for cheese meltage....mmmm.

7. Hunger
This is easily the most important factor in making a delicious sandwich. Everything tastes better when you are hungry. This is why I am convinced that Peter would like just about anything I make him when he is hungry.

I have so much more to write about sandwiches, but this is already a long enough post. I'm sure no one really cares about sandwiches, but I love food preparation so this was mostly for me.


LJFredricks said...

Can you make me a sandwich????? I make them like Peter.
Please make your next post on how to make good hummus!!

Anonymous said...

Rachel, how fun to read your food column. Maybe you should think about it for a job. Love the pics to go with it! -aunt elaine


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