SANDWICH OF THE SUMMER
Introducing the Wedge Salad Sandwich
Come summer, I start making what I call appointment sandwiches. These are not slapdash cheese-and-whatever working lunches, but instead meals I shop for, dream of, fuss over. It’s the dawn of the tomato, of course: my favorite way to eat them is on toasted or fried bread. I begin the season with something minimal, a slice of olive oil-fried toast rubbed with garlic and layered with salted slices of tomato. The freshly fried bread warms and softens the tomato, which then bleeds into the bread, almost making a dressing with the garlicky oil. It requires so little of me, and offers so much—my ideal summer food.
Next I will move on to the BLT. Bentons bacon, romaine, salt and peppered Jersey tomatoes, Hellmann’s. Often I’ll only toast the inside edges of the bread, to keep its outside soft and easy on the roof of my mouth, and its insides from getting too soaked. Appointment sandwiches are all about proportions, all about understanding the exact level of work you’re willing to put into a dish you eat with your hands in 120 seconds max.
I recently received a copy of the Turkey and the Wolf cookbook (out next Tuesday!), written by chef Mason Hereford and friend of the pod JJ Goode.1 It’s groovy and silly and full of life, a restaurant cookbook with real pizzazz. There’s a whole spread of Hereford rollerblading through the Popeye’s drive-thru, and somehow it’s not annoying? This is cooking school-level stoner food, without the ironic self-seriousness that has historically defined the microgenre2. Top on my list of bookmarks are a burrito stuffed with freezer-aisle sweet potato waffle fries and a dish of slow-cooked lambs necks on freezer-aisle roti paratha.
The category, you might say, is 7-11 elegance. Hereford, whose New Orleans restaurant has become famous for its cranked-to-11 sandwiches, takes the genre seriously, approaches it with rigor. He asks you to slice your bread an egregious 1 1/2-inch thick for sandwiches that look like they require preparatory jaw exercises. Appointment sandwiches if I’ve ever seen one.
A few days after first flipping through the book, I had a lightbulb moment: I needed to eat a wedge salad inside a sandwich. Surely someone had thought of this already? I Googled, but all I found was a horrifying construction that used iceberg lettuce as “bread.”
The sandwich I dreamed of needed good, sturdy bread, thick bacon, homemade blue cheese dressing, a cross-section slab of iceberg (like a cauliflower steak!), and pickled shallots, which I always add to my wedge salads to offset their richness. What luck—the book had a chunky blue cheese dressing recipe with the brilliant addition of celery salt, an ingredient that’s been dear to my heart ever since the years I spent shaking it into my UNC-era pimento cheese. It adds ZIP! It adds VERVE! It adds CELERY!
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Mess Hall to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.