It’s British Sandwich Week and whether it has been freshly made or spent some time ruminating and sweating in clingfilm at the bottom of a rucksack, the humble sandwich has been the cornerstone of our lunchtime diet for centuries now. Well, ever since some Earl barked at the card table late one night, “Bring me some meat tucked betwixt two slices of bread!” that is. Of course, familarity breeds contempt and sometimes this snack can become a bit pedestrian and habitual so here is a step-by-step approach to making a sarnie which is just that little bit more special, the Crunchy Mister.
Now, some eagle-eyed readers will have already cottoned onto the fact that the Crunchy Mister, in translation at least, may well allude to that gallic pretender, the Croque Monsieur. And they would be right, it does. But in keeping with our fine sense of humour and eccentricity, this sandwich calls for a lot more than simple French flair. It calls for an iron. The type that you would use to uncrease your undies. And you need to switch it on right now, right up to it’s hottest temperature.
So whilst your iron is heating up, you need to assemble your ingredients; a sandwich loaf, some butter, some good oak-smoked ham and some fine Cornish Cheddar (or something similar, Emmental or Gruyère is not needed here)
Slice your bread into slices, not too thick and slather with a healthy helping of butter. This is not a pappy, unsatisfying, calorie conscious sandwich by the way, the type you can find in the chiller in Boots. This is a sandwich of Kings.
Layer your flaky, delectable, oak-smoked ham down on one slice, resisting the urge to take a nibble. Oh go on then, just a little bit.
Grate your cheddar over the ham. Again trying not to pop any slivers into your cakehole, however nice the cheese is, with its crunchy, crystals of salt.
Lay the other slice of bread on top and then slather both sides of the outside slices with more butter, lots of butter, tonnes of butter. This is not a healthy sandwich.
You will then need to cut two neat(ish) squares of foil and place them atop and below the sandwich and then put the whole construction onto a baking tray.
By this time, your iron should be fiercely hot and ready to thwack on top of the sandwich. You can do this on your countertop or you could get your ironing board out, complete with resplendent and natty dandelion cover.
Leave the iron on top for about 2 minutes. The weight of the iron will press the bread down, creating a panini-type effect.
And watch as the butter and cheese, sizzles and melts and fills the kitchen with wondrous aromas and smells.
After 2 minutes, flip the sandwich on to the other side and place the iron back on top for another 2 minutes. Rub your tummy in anticipation.
When the next 2 minutes are up, carefully peel back the foil to reveal a beautiful, toasted sandwich that would even make John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, weep with joy. If the foil sticks to the bread, then quite frankly, you haven’t used enough butter. I repeat, this is not a healthy sandwich.
With a sharp knife, cut the sandwich in two and enjoy the gorgeous, warm combination of gooey cheese, savoury ham and toasted bread.
And then go for a lie down.
Or a run.This post originally appeared on the Great British Chefs blog and my sandwich toasty iron was orginally given to me by Browners from Around Britain with a Paunch