Super Sandwiches: Six top chefs, 12 slices of bread and some sensational fillings
BRAISED SHORT RIB SANDWICH WITH MOROCCAN HARISSA, ROMAINE AND MEYER LEMON
A fine way to use up braised short ribs—or a fine excuse to make them.
Makes 8 sandwiches
Loretta Keller of Coco500 and The Moss Room
Prep work: Up until one week in advance, make braised beef short ribs: Pour one bottle of dry red wine into a large saucepan, bring it to a boil and cook it down by half. Remove from heat. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season 6 short ribs, trimmed of excess fat, with salt and pepper, and dust with 1 tablespoon flour. Warm 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof pan and brown the ribs well, in batches if necessary. Transfer ribs to a plate. // Remove all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot, lower heat to medium and add 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped celery stalks, 2 chopped carrots, 1 chopped leek, 6 sprigs flat leaf parsley, 2 bay leaves and 2 thyme sprigs and brown lightly, about 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Add wine, ribs and 6 cups beef broth, bring to a boil, cover tightly with aluminum foil and a heavy lid and place in oven to braise for 2½ hours, or until ribs are very tender. // When fully cooked, allow meat to cool in the sauce and refrigerate; the next day, remove cap of hardened fat from top of the mixture and discard the bones, fat and vegetables. Boil the sauce down to reduce by half and thicken, skimming impurities off the surface, and return the meat to the sauce.
To assemble sandwich: Dress 1 head romaine, tough outer leaves removed, with a vinaigrette made from the zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon mixed with 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Reheat short ribs in their sauce, then remove from sauce and shred meat with a fork. On a slice of hearty bread, spread a layer of harissa and add a layer of shredded short rib, with a spoonful or two of its sauce. Layer on 1 or 2 leaves dressed Romaine, drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil on the "lid" of the sandwich and close it up.
The cheat: Buy short ribs from the prepared-food section. Replace harissa with Sriracha hot sauce or chopped hot Italian jarred peppers.
SERRANO HAM, RICOTTA AND NETTLE PESTO SANDWICH
It's work to achieve these layers of flavor, but it's worth it (and there are shortcuts).
Makes 8 sandwiches
Josef Centeno of Lazy Ox Canteen
Make the nettle pesto: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and, wearing gloves to protect against stings, blanch 4 bunches fresh nettles by parboiling for about 10 seconds. Shock nettles in a bowl of ice water, then dry in a kitchen towel. // Place 1 clove garlic in a food processor and pulse to mince; chop nettles and add to food processor, along with the peel of 1 orange, the peel of 1 lemon (no pith), ¼ teaspoon chili flakes, 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse to blend. Slowly drizzle in ½ cup plus 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil and blend until smooth.
Make the whipped ricotta and shallots: (If ricotta is watery, drain in a mesh strainer for 1 hour prior to whipping.) In a standing mixer, whip 8 ounces sheep's milk ricotta, slowly adding 2 to 3 tablespoons milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. // Make the pickled shallots: In a saucepan, bring 1 cup red wine vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, 1/8 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Pour the mixture, while hot, over 8 shallots, thinly sliced, and stir in ¼ cup torn mint leaves and one halved Thai chile. Let pickle for at least 1 hour.
To assemble sandwich: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice a length of baguette, and drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil on each side, then place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Spread nettle pesto evenly on both sides of baguette. Layer 4 slices Serrano ham on one side of bread. Spread ricotta on other side. Toss 1 ounce arugula or watercress with 5 tablespoons olive oil, 2½ tablespoons sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste, and scatter a large pinch atop ham; add pickled shallots to taste. Place sandwich halves together and serve.
The cheat: Replace nettles with raw basil, watercress, arugula, mint or parsley—or a mix.Skip whipping the ricotta. Just season it and accept a thicker texture. Use prosciutto if Serrano is not available. Use store-bought pickled onions.
GRILLED CHEESE WITH CURDS, PROSCIUTTO AND TOMATO MARMALADE
The marmalade for this sophisticated take on grilled cheese raises any sandwich to the next level.
Added bonus: Makes enough marmalade for dozens of sandwiches.
Graham Elliot Bowles of Graham Elliot and Grahamwich
Make the tomato marmalade: Roughly chop 5 medium-sized tomatoes and 1 medium-sized onion, and place in a pot with 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of red wine vinegar, and 2 garlic cloves, minced. Cook on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 hours, until all ingredients are very soft, then puree in a blender and cook for another 30 minutes, until thick and jam-like.
To assemble sandwich: Butter one slice of bread from a Pullman loaf. Heat a large, non-stick sauté pan (or an electric griddle), and lay bread, butter-side down, on the pan. Sprinkle a small handful of aged cheddar cheese on bread, then add a large pinch of cheese curds and three slices of prosciutto. Spoon 1 tablespoon of hot tomato marmalade on top. When the bottom of bread is lightly browned, top the sandwich with another slice of bread and flip, adding more butter to the pan if needed, and cook sandwich until cheese is melted.
The cheat: Replace the curds with fresh goat cheese and the jam with thin slices of green apple for a different, but also delicious, sandwich.
BACON, LETTUCE AND TOMATO WITH EGG AND CHEESE
A classic, made with the perfectionist technique the great chef is known for.
Makes 1 sandwich
Thomas Keller of The French Laundry and Per Se
Break out the frying pan: Cook 3 to 4 slices bacon until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Toast 2 slices rustic country bread, then place 1 slice Monterey Jack cheese on 1 piece of toast and broil until cheese is melted. Spread other slice of toast with mayonnaise, top with cooked bacon, and then 4 thin slices tomato and 2 leaves butter lettuce. // In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 teaspoon butter over medium heat. Fry 1 egg, turning over briefly when bottom is set and yolk is still runny. Slide finished egg on top of lettuce. Place sandwich on a plate and slice in half, letting yolk run down the sides.
SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE PO' BOY
If you think of po' boys as dry and fried, this zesty version with its own rich sauce will provoke a rethink.
Makes 6 sandwiches
John Besh of Restaurant August and Lüke
Prepare the proteins: In a medium saucepan over high heat, render 1 pound Italian pork sausage (preferably smoked), removed from casings, with 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Once the sausage is browned, add 1 small diced onion and cook until deep brown. Lower heat to medium and stir in 1 tablespoon flour. // Season 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes while stirring, then add ½ a bell pepper in small dice and 1 minced garlic clove. Remove shrimp from the pot and set aside. Add 1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes, 1 dash ground allspice, 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce and 1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then add 1 cup chicken stock and 1 sprig fresh thyme. // Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes before adding 1 chopped green onion and shrimp back to the pot. Allow shrimp to cook about another 5 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble sandwich: Slice a length of baguette down the middle, spread both sides with mayonnaise and pile with shredded lettuce. Spoon the filling on sandwich and serve.
ROAST PORK SANDWICH WITH FONTINA, BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES AND SAUERKRAUT
This delicious pulled pork couldn't be easier; sauerkraut and pickles provide tantalizing zing.
Makes up to 16 sandwiches
Tom Colicchio of Craft, 'wichcraft, Colicchio & Sons and Riverparkc
Make pork: Place one 6-pound pork shoulder roast in a roasting pan. Mix together ½ cup brown sugar; 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced; 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves; 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped; ½ cup Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Rub the spice mixture onto pork and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove pork from refrigerator and bring it to room temperature. // Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush sugar and spice mixture off the pork, transfer it to oven and roast for 45 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 250 degrees and cook for 7 hours, until meat is very tender. Remove meat from oven and immediately shred it using a fork. Reserve.
Make garlic mayonnaise: Mix 2 cups mayonnaise with 6 cloves minced garlic.
To assemble sandwich: Split a subway roll in half and spread each half with garlic mayonnaise. Add a layer of store-bought sauerkraut, a layer of pulled pork, several slices of bread-and-butter pickles, 2 slices of country ham and 2 slices of fontina cheese. Top with freshly ground black pepper. Place sandwich in a panini press until bread is crisp and cheese oozes, about 5 to 6 minutes on a high setting. Slice in half and serve immediately.
The cheat: Use pulled pork from a barbecue joint. Buy aioli or garlic mayonnaise. Use a George Foreman grill or waffle iron if you don't have a panini press.