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.
Roast Beef with Crispy Shallots Recipe
Inspired by the roast beef sandwich on Cutty's menu, this recipe highlights chef Chuck Kelsey's awesome fried-shallot topping. For the dressing, mix one part ketchup, one part relish, four parts mayonnaise, a couple splashes of hot sauce, and just enough horseradish to give the dressing some oomph. Pop a soft, fluffy roll (brioche works great) into the oven. Once it's warmed, slice it open and slather both halves with dressing. Put two thin slices of aged, sharp cheddar on the bottom bun, then pile on thinly sliced rare roast beef. (If you're roasting your own, salt it generously overnight, then pat it dry with paper towels before roasting – makes it 10 times beefier.) Grind on fresh black cracked pepper, top with a fistful of crisp fried shallot slices, add the other bun, and serve. Here's how to make the crisp shallot topping.
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