The Art of the Sandwich: Turning the Ordinary into Extraordinary

A sandwich is much more than just two pieces of bread with a filling between them. While that may be the basic essence of a sandwich, there’s a lot more to it and the true connoisseur will take the time to make a regular sandwich into something extra special.

How do you make a sandwich that is truly outstanding? You have to understand the components of the sandwich and ensure they all work together to create your vision of a meal. Every bite should be a perfect mixture of all the different flavours and textures, but that takes a lot of work.

Start with the Bread

It’s never a good idea to go with the boring white sandwich bread from the shops. This bread gets gummy when dampened with condiments and will end up being less than delicious. Instead, you need to put some real thought into your bread. After all, it makes up two thirds of the sandwich.

You have lots of choices for bread, including seeded, wholemeal, rolls, crumpets, flatbreads, and rye, among many, many others like ciabatta, pretzel rolls, and baguettes.

Textured breads like wholemeal and seeded will give extra chew to your sandwich and can be a good way to soften crunchier interior ingredients. When toasted, they go well with avocado and softer sandwich fillings.

Heavier tasting breads, such as pumpernickel and rye, lend their flavours to specific types of sandwich, such as salmon and heavily spiced sausages or slices of meats. Again, toasting this type of bread gives you a whole new appreciation and brings out the flavour.

Finally, you have fluffy, soft breads, like rolls. These are neatly paired with cheese and slices of the best meats that will be cushioned in the pillowy softness of your rolls. They tend to lose form quickly when wet, though, so try spreading your mayonnaise and avocado on the actual ingredients, rather than the bread. You should also eat them as soon as the sandwich is assembled.

Bring Out the Zing with Herbs

Fresh herbs can really spice up any meal, but when it comes to sandwiches, it can be a little complicated. You don’t want a mouth full of basil, so you need to be a little cautious about how you go about incorporating things into the sandwich.

The simplest method is to blend the herbs into cream cheese, avocado, or butter. Even mayonnaise can be used to infuse the sandwich with herbal flavour. Some of the more popular options include:

Dill: Ideal for use with fish, this herb will help you really make sandwiches pop.

Garlic: On its own, garlic is tasty, but when you roast it and blend with other herbs, it becomes true heaven.

Basil: This herb is perfect for combining with cheeses of all sorts, as well as tomatoes.

Rosemary: Too stiff and woody on its own, mince this herb and blend into butter or cheese.

Mint: Try it in mint jelly and spread it on thin slices of lamb or use it in a variety of other combinations.

Get creative with the ways you incorporate your herbs into the sandwich and you may find that there are even more combinations than you ever expected.

Add the Right Flavours

Every good dish will have a little touch of sweet, salt, sour, and bitter. You can blend these by adding the right ingredients. For example, grilled aubergine tends to be bitter and cucumber may be bitter or sweet, depending on which type you use. Tomatoes bring sweetness, while cheese adds salt.

The perfect blend of flavour profiles makes a sandwich leap from plain to incredible. Experiment with your ingredients to see exactly what they can do for you.

Include a Binding Agent

To ensure the sandwich tastes amazing and sticks together as best it can, you should use something binding. This may be something like mashed avocado, jam or butter, ricotta cheese, hummus, aioli, or melted cheese. All of these will help hold the ingredients in place, plus they offer a moistness that offsets the drier bread.

These should be spread evenly across the bread to ensure you don’t have a big mouthful of jam in one bite and nothing in the next. Spread to the very edges of the bread, as well.

Create the Perfect Structure

A sandwich should give you a great experience with every bite. That means each bite needs to be full of flavour and texture, which means you need to construct the sandwich just so.

Prevent slippery foods from sliding out from between the layers by placing them between two ingredients that are rougher and tend to hold the slick ingredients in place. For example, cucumber slices may be placed between roast beef and shredded lettuce. Avocado may be spread on the bread to anchor it.

You’ll also want to keep delicate foods on the top of the sandwich, with denser items at the bottom. This means cheese, meat, and the like should be on the bottom and the lettuce, sprouts, etc. go on top.

Go with the Unexpected

Not all flavour profiles are what you would normally expect. For example, if you’re given a jar of blackcurrant jam, your first instinct might be to spread it on toast with butter or peanut butter. However, if you combine it with ham and cheese, you immediately elevate the sandwich to the next level.

It’s a good idea to look at the various combinations that others make and then build off of those. Remember that the various flavour profiles can have a lot of other unusual, yet incredible combinations including:

  • Omelette with aioli spread and lettuce
  • Pear, gorgonzola, and walnut butter
  • Asparagus with pecorino and lemon
  • Smoked salmon with sliced boiled egg and cream cheese
  • Sliced roasted pumpkin with rocket and goat cheese
  • Egg salad made with parmesan, paprika, and sweet corn
  • Fried egg, cheese, and slices of roasted beef
  • Chicken with lemon crème fraiche and sliced strawberries
  • Pork belly with sweet chili jam and kim chi
  • Tuna, melted mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts and olives

Chances are, you wouldn’t think of these sandwich combos on your own, but they do really taste amazing and just go to show that you need to expand your taste horizons. Use unique breads with these combinations to really complement the flavours.

When in Doubt, Fry Something

A hot sandwich is far more exciting than a soggy, cold one and while toasted sandwiches certainly hold up better than plain bread, sometimes frying is the way to go. You can assemble your sandwich and fry it (spread butter on the outside of the slices to help it turn golden) or you can fry the bread first and then assemble the sandwich. However, it doesn’t need to be the bread that’s fried.

Even a touch of fried vegetables can really make your sandwich come alive. The crispy, salty bits of a fried egg or a bit of bacon will give you a touch of texture and a wallop of flavour. But you can get even more creative. Toss some slices of garlic in sugar and fry them up to add crispy bits of yum to the sandwich or fry a shallot to tuck inside. There are many options to make your sandwich taste amazing and they don’t always have to be traditional.

Other items that can be fried like chips or caramelised include:

  • Mushroom slices
  • Bologna or ham
  • Green onions
  • Pear slices
  • Breaded pickles

To take your sandwich up yet another level, try brushing it with flavoured butter before grilling. You can add herbs or chilli to the butter and mix well, then spread on the outside of the bread before grilling or frying. Even doing this before popping it in a panini press will give you a new flavour that is very pleasing.

Use Quality Ingredients

However you decide to make your sandwich, the quality of the ingredients will matter greatly. If you use the most basic shop items you find, then your meal will be just as dull. However, when you choose fresh cheese, carefully smoked meats, and fresh baked, artisan bread, your food is immediately elevated.

Take the time to source some truly amazing ingredients and you won’t be sorry. The sandwiches you make will be incredible.

Are you looking for the best ingredients in the market? From bread to cheese and everything in between, Freshways has what you’re looking for. Contact us today for more information.