Anyone can make a good sandwich. But think about what's changed since the 18th century's 4th Earl of Sandwich put meat between bread, reputedly so that he could eat while gambling on cards (or working – it's still a matter of contention). Sandwiches have since traveled the world, bringing us treasures like Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, made with grilled pork, pâté, and pickled veggies on a baguette, and Puerto Rican-style jibarito sandwiches of garlic mayonnaise, meat, cheese, and veggies between slabs of flattened, fried green plantains. Sandwich technology took off beyond the earl's imagination – who could have believed the first grilled cheese was anything other than a gift from heaven or space?
At the center of lunchtime innovation are the savants of sandwichery, the deli masters and nerds who obsess over optimum condiment ratios and ingredient-layering strategies. We called a few of our favorites from sandwich shops around the country – Tommy Habetz of Bunk Sandwiches in Portland, Oregon; Michael Voltaggio of Ink.Sack in Los Angeles; Chuck Kelsey of Cutty's in Brookline, Massachusetts; and Tyler Kord of New York City's No. 7 Sub – to get their secrets for taking any sandwich to the next level. Put their wisdom to use, and your lunch (or brunch) today can be good enough to make old nobility jealous.
Caesar Sandwich Recipe
It might be the world's most famous (and overplayed) salad, but experiment with the ingredients a little and it makes a killer summer sandwich. Lightly rub a ciabatta roll or foccacia wedge with olive oil and roast in a 450° F oven until crispy. Meanwhile, mash a garlic clove and a pinch of salt with the side of your knife until it's a paste; hit it with a heavy squirt of fresh lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce; and then mix the paste into 1 cup mayo, to taste. Chop some crunchy romaine lettuce into a chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them up like a cigar, then slice into thin strips), season with salt and pepper, and dress with a little bit of the garlic mayo. Slice open the bread, spread more garlic mayo on both halves, and add a mound of the lettuce. Top evenly with two roughly chopped anchovies. Use a vegetable peeler to generously shave on Parmesan cheese. Top with a fried egg, and go to town.
Credit: Photograph by Nick Ferrari