This is the story of how I came up with arguably the best sandwich I’ve come up with so far. The story begins a few weeks ago, where I was cooking the food for a dinner party on a Saturday evening. The couple hosting the dinner party had purchased one of my donations at a silent auction a while back. I looooooove cooking for dinner parties, because it allows multiple people the opportunity to enjoy my food. Also, when I cook for a dinner party I hear the host/hostess say things like this, that make me extremely happy: “Wow, it’s an hour before my dinner party, and I have no idea what I should do with myself!” Being able to enjoy your dinner party is an experience everybody should have.
At this event, the hostess has a recipe that she likes to prepare herself for all her parties. She takes a loaf of pre-made focaccia, then tops it with sliced pears and fontina cheese. She bakes it as normal, creating an excellent appetizer. Cheese and fruit are an excellent combination, in all circumstances. This sparked an idea for me right away. As one of my electives in culinary school, I took an Artisan Breads class. Because of this, I really enjoy baking my own bread. The sandwiches that come from this are unrivaled, so much so that I can’t buy bread for sandwiches at the grocery store anymore, it’s just not good enough. I decided to put my spin on her idea.
I started off by changing the cheese from fontina to Asiago, as I really enjoy the sharpness of the Asiago…this sharpness will really accentuate the sweetness of the pears. I then made a loaf of homemade focaccia with two pears, peeled, cored and diced. I worked the diced pears, as well as half a wedge of grated Asiago into the dough as I was making it. I then baked the bread as normal, which led to a very different experience. I wasn’t 100% sure that it would turn out correctly. All bread has a balance between the water, sugar and fat in the dough, which makes the bread what it is. I decided that it was too late to turn back, so I popped the fully proofed and ready dough into the oven…and what came out was *fantastic* Here is my Asiago-pear focaccia soon after it came out of the oven. 🙂
As you can see, the loaf of focaccia turned out fantastic! The cheese on the inside made for a nice maillard reaction(browning) and the pears, while they did cause a couple of divots to form in the bread, really didn’t hurt anything at all. I am extremely impressed with how this focaccia turned out, and will definitely need to do this again for future sandwiches. AND, speaking of sandwiches, let’s get to the main event, shall we? 😉 My first run at the sandwich was exactly that…a first run. I bought a chicken apple sausage from my local Sprouts, and used some mayonnaise, thinking that the mildness of the sausage and mayo would be a nice subtle blend. I added some arugula, because if you haven’t had a sandwich with arugula, you are missing out. finally, I cooked up some bacon, because bacon on a sandwich is never a bad idea, laugh. Here is the first run at the sandwich I made from this bread:
First, even though this was my first run at this sandwich, it was actually VERY good for a first try. The saltiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the bread and the sausage, and the pepperiness of the arugula created a fantastic bite. I was happy with my new sandwich…but I wasn’t blown away. It really felt like there was more I could do here…and I was right. I decided that I’d leverage the sweetness of the bread by balancing that out with a spicy Italian sausage. It’s not commonly known that sweetness and spiciness form an excellent counterbalance to each other. Also, the mayo felt a bit underwhelming, so I decided to replace that with something that has a bit more punch…a honey mustard. The final result is a sandwich that is definitely going to be on the menu at my as of now fictional future restaurant. Here’s a picture:
The best way I can describe the sandwich, is that each bite is an adventure. You start off with the gorgeous texture of the bread, that leads to the crunch of the arugula. Then, the heat from the spicy sausage starts to overwhelm your palate…BUT, charging in to the rescue is the sweetness of the honey mustard and the pears in the bread. This reigns in the spiciness and allows you to enjoy the myriad of flavors. The saltiness of the bacon is what really brings everything together. You have all these flavors going on, but the anchor to it all is that familiar saltiness, which gives you an anchor to enjoy the sensations.
Unfortunately there isn’t a recipe this time. You can find the focaccia recipe in what I understand to be the best bread baking book out there, which you can find here: https://books.google.com/books/about/How_to_Bake_Bread.html?id=1FOyPwAACAAJ&hl=en.
I promise that I’ll be more on top of doing regular blog posts going forward, I have lots of ideas. 🙂