What's better than opening the mailbox to find a surprise package with a new cookbook inside? I have my buddy, Kelley, to thank for that experience recently. She sent us Tom Colicchio's cookbook, 'wichcraft, with recipes from his high-end sandwich shops. Woohoo! Thanks, Kelley!
Colicchio -- you may recognize him from Top Chef – owns a series of restaurants all across the country: Craft, CraftBar, Craftsteak, and 'wichcraft. He credits one of his sous-chefs, Sisha Ortuzar, with truly understanding his way of crafting food, and wanting to open a sandwich shop. Colicchio says he uses the day-after Thanksgiving sandwich as his marker – it's really good because it's made from such well-crafted ingredients. So that became the 'wichcraft mission – using really good food, artisanal ingredients with no fillers, to make amazing sandwiches.
The book also contains a section on "sandwich architecture" with pointers on how to construct the perfect sandwich. A few tips...
1. You need to understand the context of your sandwich. Will you be eating it over the kitchen sink or serving it at a cocktail party?
2. The "wow" factor, the aesthetics of the sandwich, refer to the visual as well as the taste and texture.
3. Consider the "durability" of the sandwich. Will you be serving it immediately or hours later? How will the ingredients get along with each other over time? Will the texture change?
4. Who are you serving? A child? A business executive?
5. Bread texture: the bread must keep the sandwich intact, but the primary texture of the sandwich should come from the ingredients inside.
6. Toast bread on one side only and place the toasted side on the inside of the sandwich so that the bread can absorb moisture from the ingredients and create a barrier that keeps the softer side from going soggy. Also, the toasty side won't scratch your palate if it's on the inside.
7. You can cut a roll thicker on the bottom to absorb juicier ingredients and retain flavor better.
8. A BLT should be assembled in this order: mayo, tomato, bacon, lettuce. You don't want lettuce next to the tomato or a liquid.
9. Keep mustard and mayo apart or the mustard flavor will get too diluted.
10. Place cheese near the bread to reinforce structure, unless the cheese is melted with meat.
11. Dress greens before placing them in a sandwich.
The book contains everything from breakfast sandwiches to dessert sandwiches. A few I can't wait to try:
• Goat cheese with avocado, celery, walnut pesto and watercress
• Steak with cucumber salad and black chile mayo
• Cheddar with smoked ham, poached pear and mustard
• Roasted turkey with avocado, bacon, balsamic onion marmalade and mayo
• Chocolate cream'wich
The book also includes accompaniments you'll need like homemade mayo, vinaigrettes, roasted onions, tomato relish, pickles, pestos, and sauces. I also love that the contents shows a photo of each sandwich with its listing.
Stay tuned. Next up, I have the first sandwich we've tried from the book. It uses one of my favorite goat cheeses, boucheron. It's a boucheron open-faced sandwich with grapefruit and crispy olives.