In How Do You Take Yours?, The Takeout solicits staff and outside expertise for secret tips on improving one dish. This week, we’re discussing sandwich combinations that sound strange on paper, but are in fact delicious and worthwhile.
Brendan Haren, Coppin’s Restaurant and Bar in Covington, Kentucky
I first tried a PB&J burger at 26 Beach Restaurant in Venice Beach. I loved the sweet and salt play between the familiar tastes of peanut butter, jelly, and the burger patty. Whenever I really need a pick-me-up, I slap one of them together and throw a little bacon on it to bump the health value up a little. Add a side of fries and a Braxton beer and you’re good to go!
Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provisions in San Francisco
We make a sauerkraut butter here. You take chopped sauerkraut and some of its juices and combine that with whipped butter. It goes really well with Italian bread and ham. Another combination I love is pickles, Gruyere cheese, and butter, served on basic white bread. You really need all three. It’s a magical combination.
Brandon Frohne, Holler & Dash Biscuit House, various locations
At our Nashville restaurant, we took the classic peanut butter and banana sandwich and threw in a couple more twists. Everything we do is based around a biscuit. We’d start there, then make a peanut butter mousse, followed by bananas, spicy sugared bacon, maple syrup, and finally salted popcorn.
At our Atlanta restaurant, we have a grilled chicken sandwich that uses a sweet-tea brine. You’d take sweet tea, add a bit of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and honey, and soak raw chicken breast in the brine for 30 minutes. You can then grill the chicken or cook in a sauté pan; either way, it’ll caramelize. We serve that sweet-tea brine grilled chicken sandwich with pickled cabbage, sprouts, and a hot sauce aioli. Lots of interesting flavors.
Antonio Mora, Quality Meats in New York City
Grilled Cheese + pancetta + pesto + jam. As a kid, I grew up eating sandwiches with American cheese and Welch’s grape jelly on toasted pumpernickel bread. I always loved the combination of sweet and savory. This sandwich pays tribute to my Spanish heritage, and it’s kind of a play on membrillo (quince paste) with manchego cheese.
There are so many combinations and flavors in this sandwich, but they key is to have the perfect mix of salty, fatty, savory, and sweet all in one bite. The sandwich itself is fairly simple—it’s [a version of] a grilled cheese sandwich with the addition of pancetta and jam. First you build the sandwich using your bread of choice, jam, pancetta or ham, cheese, and pesto. Next, lightly brown some butter in a nonstick pan and then place the sandwich in the pan. Once it gets crispy on one side, flip it over and press down gently with a spatula. Lastly, throw in the oven for a few minutes at 350 degrees. I like my bread nice and crispy!
Joe Frietze, Publican Quality Meats in Chicago
I’ve been wanting to call a sandwich Honey Badger for a year and a half now. Our head baker came up with this honey whole-wheat bread, which just calls for putting ham on it. To that we smear on honey mustard butter on both pieces of bread (whisk together 50 grams room temperature butter, 15 grams Dijon mustard, 3 grams honey, salt to season). Then we add hot giardiniera, pickled red onions, Comte cheese, and ham. We do it as a griddle sandwich—you’ve got to really press it to make the sandwich crispy.
Moosah Reaume, Commons Club in Chicago
Pan-fried bologna + pineapple rings + Miracle Whip + Flamin’ Hot Cheetos + fried over-easy egg on Mrs. Baird’s white bread. This has been a go-to since we ran home to my house when I was in the fourth grade. Right after school, I fired up the pan, threw in the butter, and then started from there while the bread was in the toaster. We took the bologna out when it was caramelized and then threw more butter back into the pan and fried the egg. From there it was just building the sandwich. Then smashing the egg down on the bologna and just crushing it. I want to make one now.
Kevin Pang, The Takeout editor-in-chief
These all work. I’ve tried them.
- Mashed potatoes on hot dogs
- Creamed cheese + honey on toast
- Pineapple + butter on toast
- Fries with ketchup and malt vinegar between bread (as the English call it, a chip butty)
- Butter + marmite + salt and vinegar chips
Clayton Purdom, The A.V. Club internet culture editor
At some point in college—and by “some point,” I mean an evening too hazy to be placed in time or location—someone introduced me to the peanut butter and pickle sandwich. It’s as easy as you’d think, using store-bought bread, a dill pickle spear, and some peanut butter, all common enough in a college house. As I was introduced to it, you use one piece of bread and then wrap it around the pickle, turning it into a sort of hot dog shape. You are waiting for me to tell you it makes more sense when you eat it, and that is because it does, the saltiness forming a nice cohesion between the two ingredients but the juiciness of the pickle contrasting the stickiness of the peanut butter. Paeans have been written to the odd pairing elsewhere, but once you buy into it, its true majesty is its ready availability. You can probably make one right now. What are you waiting for?
Caitlin PenzeyMoog, The A.V. Club deputy managing editor
This seemingly random amalgam of foods came to me by way of recipe that featured avocados, cheese, and micro-greens; realizing we had some pickled onions in the fridge the first time and a flair for fusing previous iterations led to this sandwich. It has no name, but my partner and I call it “that avocado-pea shoot-egg one.” Using a hearty wheat or rye bread (toasted, if possible), spread a generous helping of mashed avocado over top. Then, gently pressing into the avocado so it all sticks together, add crumbled hard-boiled egg, French feta, and pickled onions. It should all form a mass. On top, add pea shoot greens, and salt and pepper if you want. We eat these as open-faced sandwiches, but you could toast another piece of bread and mash it over top, if you want. This is a filling, fatty vegetarian sandwich, and you may find you want more of some options than others—my sandwich always turns out to be about 50 percent pickled onion, while my partner favors the eggs and cheese in his. You really can’t go wrong.
William Hughes, The A.V. Club staff writer
Here’s where my long-time status as a garbage food person finally pays off, because while my favorite breakfast sandwich only barely qualifies for the name—by dint of smashing some food goo in between two basically bread-like objects—it is a delicious way to jump-start your metabolism in the morning. The recipe is simple: Take two Eggo Nutri-Grain blueberry waffles—and the Nutri-Grain is important, or the whole thing will end up tasting way too sweet—and give them a medium toasting. Then, apply a medium-thick layer of smooth Jif peanut butter (or your personal brand, but I’m a creature of brand loyalty) on each waffle, and smash them together, quickly. Speed matters here, because if you’re too slow, the waffle heat will dissipate, and you won’t get the runny, almost-liquid melted peanut butter texture that simultaneously brings the senses to life and also inevitably drips down onto your shirt, leaving stains that tell the world you know exactly how to do breakfast right.