If you're not a fan of any of the other sandwiches we mentioned earlier today, you may be better off making your own. Surfing on kottke.org not too long ago, we spotted a remaindered link to a recipe for what was referred to as a "Spanglish Sandwich." This name is in reference to the movie "Spanglish," starring Adam Sandler and Paz Vega. In the movie, Sandler is a famous chef who owns a well-regarded California restaurant, and in one key scene in the movie he makes this sandwich for his romantic interest. We'd watched it as an in-flight movie once, which is pretty much all you need to know about the quality of the movie. As good as the sandwich looked, it couldn't save the script.
Anyway, we'd forgotten about it until we spotted the remaindered link to Collective Detective, who reveal the recipe from the DVD extras, as well as the fact that the sandwich recipe was provided by none other than Thomas Keller. He personally taught Sandler how to make this sandwich for the movie. Somewhat fitting, since Sandler's background in the movie is quite similar to Keller's background (a celebrity chef who owns a highly-regarded restaurant in California).
The details of the sandwich itself were tantalizing. The celebrity chef connection made me think that this might indeed be heaven. We were sold on it the second we saw this: "I’m told that making sure that the yolk doesn’t break until you cut the sandwich is key." Drippy egg yolk? Delicious. How do we make this thing?
3-4 slices of bacon
2 slices of Monterey Jack cheese
2 slices of toasted rustic country loaf (pain de campagne)
preferred substitution used here: sourdough boule)
1 tbsp of mayo
4 tomato slices
2 leaves of butterhead lettuce (Boston lettuce variety works here)
1 teaspoon butter
Sheet of tinfoil
2 sandwich picks (optional)
Defibrillator (optional, but highly recommended)
Most of the ingredients above are easily attainable and are rather cheap. This sandwich is, after all, an overglorified BLT. Most of the ingredients were easily found on Freshdirect. For butterhead lettuce, you can use Boston lettuce and everything works fine. (Boston lettuce is a type of butterhead lettuce, as per Freshdirect).
The one ingredient we did not obtain from Freshdirect was the bread. After browsing a few bakery websites and finding nothing listed as "pain de campagne", we fired off an email to Amy's Bread here in New York to find this bread, or a close substitution. We soon received a reply from Toy Dupree, general manager of the Hell's Kitchen location, with some very helpful suggestions for breads to use for this recipe. She suggested their Country Sourdough Boule (pain de campange made with a sourdough starter), Organic Miche (darker than pain de campange, but a fine bread for sandwiches), or Organic Country White Bread (flavorful with a texture like pain de campagne). Suggestions in hand, we visited their Bleecker St. location to pick up a sourdough boule (it'll do double-duty as pasta sauce dipping slices this week). The boule was a budget-friendly $3; we'd expected to pay more, and was pleasantly surprised that their gourmet bread comes at reasonable prices.
Prepare tomato slices, cheese, and lettuce leaves first, put them on the side so that they're ready to go when you need them. With a medium-sized frying pan, lay out the bacon slices and set the range to medium heat. Watch it, but let it take care of itself and cook until crispy; it'll take 8-10 minutes (flip once if you like midway through). Meanwhile, preheat broiler; lay bread slices on a sheet of tinfoil and broil each side of bread slices for 20 seconds to toast. Put cheese slices on one bread slice and heat additional 20 seconds on foil. Remove and set aside. (Optional: leave broiler on, and right before you top sandwich off with cheese slice, heat again for 10-15 seconds to soften cheese again) Finish bacon, drain on paper towels. While you wait for this, clean frying pan (or use a second) and throw it back on medium heat with the butter slice. When the butter is melted, break egg into pan and wait for whites to set. VERY IMPORTANT: if the egg yolk breaks before you actually put the egg on the sandwich, discard and start the egg frying over. Flip egg and cook for 20 seconds, remove from heat. On the plain toasted bread slice, apply mayo, layer bacon slices, tomato, and lettuce. Top lettuce with the egg and, finally, with the cheese topped slice of bread (cheese side down, of course).
We're not done yet, folks. If you have the sandwich picks, you might want to use one on each side of the sandwich. Take a bread slicer and cut right down the middle, holding the sandwich gently but firmly. This is when you want the yolk to break; as it does, it runs down the side of the sandwich in a glorious golden waterfall of cholesterol. Did we mention yet that this sandwich is 1200 calories? Congratulate yourself by saying, "Bueno fat sandwich". Charge defibrillator before serving.
The Spanglish Sandwich is as good as advertised, and it far surpasses the movie that bore it. I highly recommend that you give it a try.
Guest columnist Brian Van.