Dinner Plans #43
She was a lawyer, he was a sandwich.
Last week we shared beach eats, but to be honest, most of the time we’re packing our bags with the ultimate beach food: sandwiches. Packable, snackable, customizable, nothing beats a sandwich, even if you’re not beach-bound. Going on a road trip? Flying across the country? Back to working from your office? A sandwich is always the answer. This week has been hot enough to make our brain cells feel like they’re melting so let’s get into it: a menu of absolute bangers to try for dinner this week, all three of which happen to be actually fun to cook, plus our favorite sandwiches for the beach, your bed (parked in front of an AC unit), and beyond. Can you guess our favorite summer sandwich of all time? We’ll give you a hint-- it starts with ‘BL’ and ends with ‘T’. And don’t even think about sneaking an ‘A’ in the middle.
ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:
Lamb Ragu: This lamb ragu — a rich, meaty sauce tossed with pasta and covered with parmesan — is the epitome of a cold weather recipe, though I always find myself craving and cooking it during these final weeks of summer. After browning a pound of ground lamb, the recipe calls for adding a can of crushed tomatoes, but I like squashing juicy, flavorful, in-season tomatoes this time of year and letting those cook down into a thick, concentrated sauce. The sauce then simmers until it's ready to be tossed together al dente noodles, just 30-ish minutes, which also happens to be the maximum amount of time I allow my stove to stay on during the annual NYC heatwave that is the month of August. The whole pot should be topped with some sort of fresh herb (I like mint, basil, and oregano best, in that order) and a grating of salty, hard cheese (parmesan, pecorino, Prima Donna). Somehow, polishing off an entire bowl of it doesn't weigh you down or make you break into a sweat, which to me, means it's a fine summer meal.
Herby Corn & Feta Salad: I've been sleeping on this recipe for a loooooong time, but I finally woke up last week and am here to make sure none of you make the same mistake. Sure, this looks like a regular old salad full of things we all know are good: crispy lettuce, creamy avocado, sweet corn, crumbly feta. But it's the way each ingredient is utilized that makes this recipe so special. The feta is mixed with buttermilk to make a tangy, herby dressing that's just a little spicy from chopped, charred jalapeños. Sweet, plump corn kernels also get a bit blackened after some time on the grill, and the combination of all that and a perfect avocado (i.e. one from California), makes for a shockingly complex and delicious dish to serve with a huge chunk of bread and call dinner.
Roasted Chicken with Bread Salad: I (Court) was lucky enough to spend a week in the Bay area eating, drinking, and smoking all kinds of great things. But one of the best bites of that week (#BBOTW) was certainly the schmaltzy, crunchy, jus-soaked bite of warm bread that the impeccable roasted chicken from Zuni Cafe was perched atop. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken was juicy, salty, with crispy, just-fatty-enough skin, but something about the bread salad below it blew my mind. With sweet currants, bitter frisée, and little crunches of toasty pine nuts, plus the acidic punch of vinegar, this dish is a master class in balancing flavors. I’m obviously not the first to notice and was happily surprised to find that there are many, many, many recipes published for this infamous dish online. Though I may not have a wood-burning oven in my “cozy” Brooklyn abode, it’s comforting to know I can still somewhat recreate it at home again and again, especially as we steadily approach Autumn a.k.a. the unofficial Roast Chicken Season.
SO YOU WANT A SANDWICH
Broccoli Reuben: Some of my all-time favorite sandwiches come from Court Street Grocers— and not just because my cool cousins designed their cool logo (shoutout to Dinah & Joe!) More on their best summer sandwich later, but my year-round boo is their Broccoli Reuben, a vegetarian adaptation of a classic Reuben. Softened, not too crispy roasted broccoli is blanketed by a warm coating of melted Swiss and tangy sauerkraut all on buttery toasted rye bread. The addictive little secret to almost all of their sandwiches? Mayo. Specifically Duke’s mayo. In this sandwich, it’s mixed with hot sauce and probably some other secret ingredients and called ‘Comeback Sauce.’ Sound good? Make the whole masterpiece at home with this recipe as a guide. For a more authentic CSG experience, sub this specific recipe for Comeback Sauce, or at least use CSG’s preferred Crystal hot sauce instead of Sriracha.
Pan Bagnat: I don’t care how many articles are written about tinned fish being the official food of Hot Girl Summer, I still get ‘the ick’ (no, I will never stop talking like I’m on Love Island). I love its accessibility and its ease, but there’s something about preserved protein that weirds me out. So when it comes to a tuna sandwich, for me, the more stuff mixed in, the better. This punchy, bright sandwich transports me right to a rocky shoreline in the south of France, where even tuna salad is more sophisticated and alluring. It’s basically a Niçoise salad on a baguette, and if you’re thinking, Don’t the olives, artichoke hearts, peppers, and fresh herbs overpower the tuna?, you’d basically be right. But it’s all married in briny, salty harmony, especially when soaked up into crusty bread. I love this version because it omits the hard boiled egg, which I find texturally ‘not the move’ in this sandwich, but feel free to go with this more traditional version if that’s your jam. The best part? This sammie gets better as it sits (in a cooler, please), although no mayo means no worries when it comes to summer sun + food.
Pulled Bo Ssäm Sandwich: Bo ssäm is my favorite food. To eat, to make, to talk about. For those unfamiliar (god bless you) bo ssäm is a pork butt that's been cured in salt and sugar overnight before getting covered in brown sugar and roasted low and slow until a sugary, fatty crust forms and the meat underneath it becomes so tender that it starts slipping off the bone. It's an absolutely perfect food — on it's own, eaten with crisp lettuce and cold oysters as David Chang intended, or as the greatest pulled pork sandwich you'll ever eat. My family makes bo ssäm anytime we spend a long summer weekend together, and my preferred way of getting alarming amounts of it into my stomach is by piling the buttery meat and pieces of its sweet, salty, crunchy bark onto a brioche roll. If you have a vendetta against brioche, as I have learned recently that many people do, follow in friend of the newsletter Emma's footsteps and use a soft and chewy Martin's potato roll instead, but this is my sandwich, so let's get back to how I like to do things. To finish, I'll spoon some ginger-scallion sauce over the pork and arrange a healthy number of quick pickle slices over everything before smashing on the top of the bun. I know I shouldn't be surprised that such a flawless food translates into an extraordinary sandwich, but it's so damn delicious that I still am every single time.
In the ranking of summer sandwiches, only one reigns supreme: the peak tomato season B.L.T. So, in honor of BLT szn, we conducted an informal poll of your hottest BLT takes over on our Instagram. Here are the results:
Spread ‘em: When it comes to mayo (a BLT non-negotiable) 48% of you opt for the classic Hellman’s. The slightly sweet Japanese Kewpie slid into second place with 30% of the vote and 18% chose the Southern belle, the tangy and “twangy” Duke’s. 4% fell for the trap we set-- Miracle Whip. No! No votes for you Miracle Whip!
Get this bread: The most popular choices were sourdough, ciabatta, sandwich white or multigrain bread, and a wildcard: rye. Honorable mentions to Texas toast, potato bread, and focaccia. Apologies to the one Sifter who wrote in with “Montreal-style Bagel”. A lifelong advocate for my sweet, dense babies, even I can admit that this is not the time and place for a bagel, Quebecois or American.
Send your location: Now finally, the most important part-- where to find the best BLT. In New York, Edith’s over in Greenpoint is dishing out a BLT on house-made rye with “Hawaij smoked corn mayo” that is absolutely sending us. Friend of the newsletter tipped us off to the BLT at the Upper West Side staple Good Enough to Eat and it does indeed, look it. Our favorite? Gotta be the perfect, fleeting mouthful from Court Street Grocers. I mean, look at her.
But home is where the BLT is. Yes, the majority of respondents wrote that the best BLT is in your very own kitchens! Yes, you can’t beat homemade, where any and all preferences can be satisfied, except that one person who said to use a Montreal bagel. Have some strong BLTakes? Know of a sandwich that stands out above all others? Drop a comment below: