Sandwich is a historic town in Kent, England whose borders once stretched to the sea. Dotted with medieval buildings, this quaint little municipality boasts a number of intriguing phenomena. In 1255 the first captive elephant brought to Europe landed here. A gift to King Henry III from France, it ended up in the king’s personal zoo. In 1457 4,000 Frenchman marauded the town, burning most of it and killing the mayor. Most recently it was the birthplace of Viagra® invented by Pfizer pharmaceuticals in a nearby research and development facility. But it is obviously most famous for the bread and meat dish that bears its name.
John Montagu (1718-1792) was the 4th Earl of Sandwich. A nobleman who held numerous public offices, including a membership in the House of Lords, Secretary of State, and First Lord of the Admiralty, he was known for his incompetence, lack of accomplishment and dissipation. Despite his undistinguished record, he will eternally be credited with putting Sandwich on the culinary map in addition to the geographical.
The story has many variations but basically goes like this: Montagu was supposedly gambling, embroiled in a protracted card game and was in need of nourishment. At his bequest his chef put together a meal that could be easily handled, thus preventing him from having to depart the game. Whether Montagu specifically instructed the chef to place some meat between two slices of bread or the creation was due to the chef’s own devices is in dispute. Two facts are clear: neither was the first inventor of a sandwich but the name for the dish originated with Monatgu’s title.
Montagu, (or his chef), was by no means a seminal influence in the culinary world. Mankind had been making sandwiches since ancient times. Indeed, it was probably a blink of an eye between when the first bread was made and when the first sandwich was born. The sandwich, despite the enduring credit bestowed on Montagu, is one more example of his dearth of achievements and misfortunes: His ineptitude as Lord of the Admiralty incited the criticism that he subverted Britain’s sea power during the American Revolution.
His first wife became ill, went insane and died. His second wife was murdered. Poor Montagu. I hope for his sake he at least ate well.
On that dour note, allow me to introduce you to some interesting sandwich recipes. They all hail from a book I edited entitled “Sandwiches of the World,” by Battman Studios in New York City. The book is a collection of exquisite sandwiches from some of New York City’s finest chefs, complemented by stunningly brilliant photography.
PORK CUTLET SANDWICH
With fontina, tomatoes, cherry peppers, and arugula
This recipe comes from Chef/owner Marc Murphy and Chef Frank Proto of the Landmarc restaurant, www.landmarc-restaurant.com
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 eggs
• 2 cups plain breadcrumbs
• ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
• 4 boneless pork cutlets, pounded thin
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 1 bunch arugula
• 8 pickled cherry peppers, sliced
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 4 ciabatta rolls
• 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
• 6 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for 10-15 minutes
• 4 large slices fontina cheese
Place flour in one bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and in a third bowl combine the breadcrumbs and cheese. Dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumb mixture. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Fry the cutlets in the oil, browning each side, about 2-3 minutes a side. Remove and rest on paper towels.
Toss the arugula with the cherry peppers, salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Slice the rolls in half and spread the mayonnaise on the top half. Divide and place the arugula mixture on the bottom halves.
Place the cutlets on a baking sheet and top with the tomatoes and cheese. Place under a broiler until the cheese is melted, about 30 seconds. Place cutlet on top of arugula mixture and close with the top half of the roll.
OPEN-FACED SWORDFISH, PORTOBELLO & SMOKED BACON CLUB
This recipe comes from Chef Michael Lomonaco of Porterhouse restaurant, porterhousenyc.com/
• 1 lb. swordfish, cut into four ½-inch thick steaks
• 4 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed, halved horizontally
• Olive oil, as needed
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons lemon zest
• 3 tablespoons thyme leaves
• ½ cup mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• ¼ lb. thinly sliced smoked bacon
• 4 slices country bread, ¾-inch thick
• 4 large leaves iceberg lettuce
• 2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
• 1 beefsteak tomato, seeded and thinly sliced
Bush the swordfish and mushrooms with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix the lemon zest and half the thyme and sprinkle over the mushrooms. Place the mayonnaise in a bowl and mix in the remaining thyme leaves and lemon juice.
Heat a sauté pan over medium heat, add the bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon and place on paper towels.
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan. Grill the bread slices until golden and then place each slice on one of four dinner plates. Grill the mushroom caps on each side until browned, about 2 minutes per side, and set aside. Grill the swordfish to medium-rare, about 3-4 minutes per side, and remove.
Place a lettuce leaf on each slice of bread and top with avocado, tomato, swordfish, and bacon. Drizzle lemon-thyme mayonnaise over the top and serve.
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