Secrets of a great sandwich recipe
The sandwiches you love to eat are like fine symphonies: one out of tune ingredient and the entire work of art is reduced to noise on a plate. Yes, you want the best breads, meats, cheeses, spreads and vegetables, but they have to play nicely together or the taste will just be... off. Achieving this balance is the secret to a great sandwich recipe.
The secret to achieving a balanced sandwich is to start in the middle and work your way out. Essentially, figure out the one or two main flavors of your sandwich such as a peppered turkey breast or tangy cheese and then find accoutrements that complement them. (That includes vegetables. Not everyone likes vegetables, but eating them on a sandwich is a good way to sneak a few servings in here and there.)
No matter what fillings you choose, pick ingredients that traditionally go well together and bring them together as a sandwich. You can easily turn your favorite salad or main course into a sandwich. Think sliced roast beef, Swiss cheese and au jus dipping sauce or frozen chicken patties, buffalo wing sauce and blue cheese dressing.
If you are looking for new sandwich ideas, take inspiration from the foods you like. If you enjoy Greek food, try hummus, pork, feta and kalamata olives. Like citrus and chicken? Take frozen chicken patties and cover them in orange marmalade, cream cheese and sprouts. Want an Asian sandwich? Try making a soy-ginger mayonnaise and spreading that on a sandwich with ahi tuna, cucumbers and field greens for a take on ahi tuna salads.
The right bread sets the tone for the sandwich in two ways: texturally and taste. Every type of bread (even cheap sliced white bread) has its optimal use, which begins with its texture. White bread is fairly floppy, which means it goes well with sandwiches that are made from floppy ingredients like baloney. However, it will soak up the juices from vegetables or moist spreads and become soggy. Firmer breads like ciabatta or bagels go well with heartier fillings like steak or crunchy vegetables, though their toughness can make eating soft foods like cold cuts too much effort.
You also want to pair milder flavored breads (white breads, hoagies, etc.) with fillings that have more delicate tastes and heartier, more boldly flavored breads (whole wheat, multi-grain) with big flavors that can hold their own. Do be careful with things like olive or jalapeno bread since their flavors can easily overwhelm everything else in the sandwich.
Extra mayonnaise? On the side
One last word of caution: spreads like mayonnaise, ketchup, BBQ sauce, etc. are great on sandwiches...when used in moderation. Too little makes for a dry sandwich; too much leads to soggy sandwiches and can kill balance. In the end though, make the sandwich with just enough so that your family will taste the spread. You can always serve more on the side. Scraping off extra spread is not fun for anyone.