Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pack a Non-Soggy Sandwich for Lunch At Last!

Last night I had the very cool opportunity to attend a reception for Popular Mechanics’ annual Breakthrough Awards, which featured demonstrations of these amazing scientific innovations. And clearly, upon my return home, I was inspired by that spirit of innovation. Except, instead of thinking of ways to benefit human beings’ quality of life via genetics or engineering or green energy, I opted to do so by improving the quality of their sandwiches.

Although I doubt this particular innovation will make next year’s awards list, I am nevertheless pretty excited to have developed a method that solves a major and persistent problem in our fast-paced modern workaday society: how to pack a sandwich for work or school the night before, without the bread ending up soggy and bloated like a body that Benson and Stabler just dragged out of the East River. In fact, my new technique ensures that—brace yourself—the bread remains completely impervious to moisture absorption the next day. Suspend your disbelief, gentle reader, for it is true! Behold, the future of sandwiches is here now!

I like to use a bulkie roll for this, but you can use regular sandwich bread, or whatever.

  • Lightly toast the bread or, for a roll, slice it in half like a hamburger bun and toast the bottoms of the halves. (I learned this tip from a Tom Colicchio article: When the inside of the bread is toasted but the outside isn’t, it is resistant to mushiness and does not cut the roof of your mouth.)

  • Once the toasted bun has cooled, take a leaf of Boston lettuce, which is the rounded kind used to make lettuce cups—see where I’m going with this?—and place on top of the bottom half. Schmear your mayonnaise and/or other condiments on this.

  • Layer on your meat/main filling (deli turkey, bacon, tuna salad, roast eggplant, what have you), followed by veggies (e.g., roasted peppers, or tomatoes or cucumbers—I recommend removing the seeds to be extra cautious; you can either use a corer on your cucumber or squeeze a cut half of your tomato before slicing).

  • Either blanket this mixture with cheese slices, or if you don't have cheese (what is wrong with you?), reserve some of your meat/filling to layer on top.

  • Fold in the edges of the Boston lettuce leaf. Cover this with another leaf, dome side up, and then tuck the edges of that leaf underneath the bottom one. Repeat that step with another lettuce leaf going crosswise. Put the top of the roll/other slice of bread on top and ever so gently press down.

    Now you have a sandwich containing a little tamale-like package that will keep all the moisture in your ingredients sealed and safe from your bread! Plus it helps keep your filling from spilling out! You can even safely cut the sandwich in half, though I recommend wrapping it in wax paper first and slicing it with a big bread knife, like they do at delis.

    The filling of the "Eureka!" sandwich prepared in this engineering experiment consisted of shredded leftover honey-mustard roast chicken (which I’ll post the recipe for soon), jalapeño Jack cheese, cucumbers, a touch of mustard, and mayo. I packed this sandwich for The Rob's lunch (I had leftover kale, white bean and kielbasa soup, which I’ll post the recipe for soon), and he attested today that, indeed, there was no moisture leakage into the bread ... confirming that I have indeed achieved a transformative scientific breakthrough in sandwich preparation. Popular Mechanics, are you listening?