How To Make a Sandwich


One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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38 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    There is a piece you left out:

    Many people make their sandwiches on a plate when they should be making their sandwiches on a cutting board. That way, once the sandwich is made, you can cut it in half (or thirds or quarters or what have you) and not have to choose between a knife blunt enough to not do damage to plates or a knife sharp enough to make the sandwich look pretty once you’ve sliced it through.

    As for condiments, a good oil and vinegar is pretty much superior to both mayo and mustard. You have to get to aioli-level stuff before finding a condiment superior to a simple oil/vinegar/spice mix.

    (As for the meats themselves, it’s best to have the thinnest sliced meats you possibly can and wad them up and layer and fold them than to have the same amount of meat in a thicker cut just lying there flat.)Report

    • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

      Lebanon bologna likes being thick. Three slices to a sammich (still folded).Report

      • ktward in reply to Kim says:

        Chicago gal transplanted to Puerto Rico here, and I cannot even begin to express how much I miss Lebanon bologna.

        I’m, more or less, a health food nut.
        Nevertheless, I never cared to learn what is actually in Lebanon bologna. I don’t care. Bring on the nitrates/ites. Meanwhile, hand me some rye bread, Havarti cheese, vidalia onion, Hickory Farms sweet/hot mustard, romaine and some avocado if available, and I’m good for the whole dang day, come what may.

        Come to think of it, maybe it’s my deficiency in Lebanon bologna that’s turned me into a cranky old sot.

        On a positive note, I live within a few twisty hilly miles of the only deli on the island that carries Boar’s Head. No Lebanon bologna, but … other yummy sammich stuff.Report

        • Kim in reply to ktward says:

          You had good Lebanon Bologna in Chicago?
          … i’m surprised. I cant’ get good stuff out here [Pittsburgh] (mostly because of poor turnover).
          Lebanon Bologna’s pure beef, smoked up good and sweet.Report

          • ktward in reply to Kim says:

            My oldest friend turned me on to it, way back in the ’70s. She hailed from Lebanon, PA. So yeah, I was pretty confident she knew a thing or two about Lebanon bologna.

            And yes, I could easily get the yummy stuff from a selection of Chicago-area delis. Crikey, I could even get it from the local Jewel for a time.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

      I don’t really disagree with anything here and will co-sign your point on the cutting board. The only caveat I have is that, while O&V is indeed superior (and let’s not forget balsamic vinegar, which is ideal for certain sandwiches, though not necessarily the cold cut variety) in a vacuum, I think certain sandwiches are better suited to other condiments. If I’m making a pretty basic ham and cheese on sliced bread, I’m going with a good spicy mustard.Report

  2. Burt Likko says:

    I generally like a roasted meat about a thin as I can get it. Turkey, chicken, roast beef, ham — these should be sliced thinly enough that they come out shredded. This creates a lot of negative space in the folds between the bits of shredded thin meat.

    I’m with Jaybird on oil and vinegar as the favored condiment. I will mix up oil and vinegar in a squeeze bottle along with a little bit of oregano and basil, and some salt and pepper. Shake well, squeezes on to the bread easily. Mayonnaise by itself is bland. I need something mixed into it, and I’ve taken to Prejean’s Cajun Seasoning.

    Many people like provolone cheese for its fatty texture but demure willingness to defer to more assertive flavors of meat and vegetable. I much prefer cream Havarti, which doubles-down on the texture but brings enough flavor that you know it’s there by taste as well as mouth feel. Now, if you smoke the provolone first, that’s a different story.

    Red leaf lettuce. Raw cucumber. Onion is tasty on a sub, but raw onion tends to produce these long, unsightly strings, and diced onion is a bit too strong.

    For a sandwich, sliced bread is good. Rolls are better. My favorite are ciabatta rolls but a baguette, torta, or a seeded (poppy or sesame, I like them both) hoagie roll are the way to go.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

      My problem with shredding the meat is that after a couple days in the fridge, it all clumps together and the potential for negative space is lost. If you are getting the meat sliced that day or (better yet!) slicing it yourself… then, yes, go thin.

      Smoked cheeses are exactly the sort that say, “Eschew the condiments! Let my taste shine through!”

      Muenster is an overlooked cheese and Swiss seems to have mistakenly fallen by the way side.Report

      • T in reply to Kazzy says:

        If when you bring your meat home from the deli, take it out of the plastic bag, remove the “paper” that they sliced it on, gently pat dry with paper towel, store in air tight container on fresh paper it will generally last longer in the fridge. Without the clumping that goes on. Most fridges are colder than the deli case (which is why at the end of the day we put the meats and cheese back in the walk in) so the temperature cause the condensate on the meats which cause them to stick, clump and spoil at a faster rate. Now these tips are what my grandparents used when they ran a small grocery/deli that sold sandwiches to several industries near their farm. Grew up learning how to slice meat (heh, heh), build a sandwich etc. Most of our sandwiches started with a whole grain bread spread with a butter/herb spread we made daily (left over spread was fed to the pigs) then on one side would layer meat (the gentle slump of ham from the right, turkey to the left is so ingrained in me I didn’t stop to think about it until you brought this up) topped with a thick (twice the thickness of the meat) slice of cheese, on the other slice of bread the veggies would go.
        Bibb lettuce, romaine or mixed greens, never ice berg lettuce. Red onions sliced very thinly or Vidalia onions, tomatoes, seeded and chopped, sliced olives (black/green) thinly sliced peppers (hot or sweet, roasted stored in a spicy olive oil), thin slices of seeded cucumber. Then they are cut on the diagonal and wrapped in waxed paper. We used to a daily (Monday thru Friday) run of 87 sandwiches until my Grandparents retired. He was 82 and she a spry 75. They then started making sandwiches for the senior center/meals on wheels until he passed at 88. She went a few years later, cause she said she just missed him too much. They had known each other since they were babies.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

      This is an interesting point… I have recently started experimenting with spreadable soft cheeses on my sandwiches instead of sliced cheeses.

      I have yet to be disappointed with any of these experiments.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Ham sliced so thin that a breeze can pass through it. Chicken as thick as the thickest part of a chicken. Roast beef, it varies.

      No quality of bread or cheese can make up for bad beef.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

        Turkey can vary too. Thick if it’s fresh-cut and the only meat you’re using, thin if you’re combining it with, say, ham.

        And it can always be improved by being topped with sauerkraut and melted cheese.Report

  3. Chris says:

    I have nothing to add, except to say that the best sandwich I’ve ever had (a picture of it can be seen here) doesn’t have meat, but does have fruit, which you don’t even mention. I demand a fruit section.

    OK, now I’m hungry…

    It’s spinach, havarti, and pear, by the way. Mmmm… now I’m hungry.Report

  4. Michael Cain says:

    A deli slicer is adjustable with the simple turn of a dial so there is no reason to get the meat sliced as you want it.

    This sentence appears to be missing the word “not” in a critical place.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

      A sentence is really just a word sandwich. Just as the mustard needs to go on top of the lettuce but beneath the mayonnaise to properly make a particular type of sandwich, so the word “not” has a prescribed place in the sentence or the meaning is lost, and the diner gets a perplexed look on their face as they chew, their intellect trying to fathom the exact nature of the flaw their taste buds detected.Report

  5. Andrew says:

    In the past year or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that spinach is almost always a more interesting choice for a sandwich than any kind of lettuce… Every now and then when I pull a fresh head of butter lettuce from my garden in the winter, I reconsider that conclusion, but nine times out of ten these days I’m going with spinach…

    And, I’ve recently discovered the pleasure of adding a bit of cilantro to a sandwich. It’s a whole new world… I’ve also used basil and some other herbs (add rosemary to that vinegarette for some good punch to a nice turkey sandwich) in the past.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Andrew says:

      With Andrew 100% on the spinach; it can also be used on pressed or toasted/baked sandwiches, another advantage over lettuce. Plus it actually has some nutritional benefit. It’s clearly superior in most scenarios (especially if you already have something else providing the crunch, like bacon or pickles or raw onions).Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        I almost never use lettuce on anything, substituting spinach or kale in places where one might normally find lettuce.

        And again, best sandwich I’ve ever had: pear, spinach, and havarti from Chapman’s Pie Wagon II.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Andrew says:

      I’ve always preferred spinach to lettuce. Mustn’t let spinach get too old or it gets bitter. But even older spinach can be wilted with some garlic, butter (or good olive oil) and black pepper, perhaps even a bit of diced ham or bacon if you are of the porkly disposition.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Andrew says:

      Spinach can be a bit too cocky. Lettuce knows its place. It’s like sound editing – you do your job and you earn your money, you might even get an Oscar if you’re good, but you can’t expect millions of people to tune into the awards ceremony.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Andrew says:

      Great point on spinach. I often use baby spinach in place of lettuce or, if I can get it, baby arugula.

      Another place I love to put spinach is on pizza… plus it allows me to trick myself into thinking I’m eating healthy.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy says:

        It has been revealed to me by the Angel Gabriel that there’s nothing the archangels like better than Lou Malnati’s spinach deep dish pizza while watching their beloved Green Bay Packers.Report

  6. LeeEsq says:

    The best sandwhich is roast beef on rye with lettuce, tomatos, onions, maybe pickles, and mayo or mustard depending on the flavor that your going for.Report

    • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Corned beef with egg salad.Report

    • Pinky in reply to LeeEsq says:

      There is no “best” sandwich. That kind of thinking goes against the spirit of sandwich-making. A meatball sub, a chunky tuna salad on rye, an almost-too-thick cheeseburger from the backyard grill…the options are endless. A basic example: what’s the right cheese for a ham sandwich? It depends. Swiss goes one direction, muenster another. If the ham is hearty enough, it can tackle a chedder. Heat the sandwich up and the rules change again.Report

  7. BlaiseP says:

    The muffuletta is the Prince of Sandwiches.Report

  8. Annelid Gustator says:

    I have to say, anything is better than lettuce. What an insipid green.Report

  9. Lisa Watson says:

    Good post! I agree with most of the comment-ees too… spinach is where it’s at as far as greens on your sandwich. Sandwiches are my favorite food, by far. I bought the True TSSU-48-12 (this one) sandwich prep table for my house because I love them so much (and I had some extra room in the kitchen- very large, mind you). Makes things real easy.Report