Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mangé à Notre Maison: Pan Bagnat

I can trace this incredibly simple, healthy, and delicious sandwich back to Mrs. Kennedy's French class in High School. And while that original version may not be as daring or cultured as it is now made à Chez Reindl, it obviously left good enough memory to be jogged out of my brain when we were looking for good travel food before one of our many trips from Pittsburgh to DC in the past few years. The sandwich is actually the hand-held version of the Niçoise salad from, you guessed it, Nice, France. Anyway, enough chat and on to the recipe.

Pan Bagnat

1.5 T lemon juice
2 t red wine vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 c olive oil

1 large baguette (or any long, thin bakery bread)
1 can of tuna, preferably packed in olive oil (although we couldn't get oo packed and it was just fine)
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion (of your choice), thinly sliced
1 very ripe tomato, thinly sliced
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced in rounds
1/2 c black olives (niçoise are traditional but may be hard to come by, kalamata or canned will do)
5 anchovy filets
2 T capers
a handful of basil leaves
*obviously, some of these ingredients are for the more daring eaters or may be impossible to find in your store of choice so please feel free to leave out any components you wish

To make the vinaigrette whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Then slowly drizzle the olive oil in while whisking to emulsify. Taste and add a bit more salt if it is still too sour.

To assemble the sandwich first slice the bread horizontally and peel out most of the inner crumb of the bread on both the top and bottom so as to create a "well" for the rest of the ingredients to pack into. Drain the tuna of the majority of it's excess oil and line the well of the bottom piece with the tuna. And then, start stacking all of the remaining ingredients, except the basil, on top. Make sure you only laying out a single, thin layer of each ingredient as it is important that the sandwich fit together in the end. When the stacking is complete, drizzle the vinaigrette on the top very slowly. This may seem like a lot of dressing, but you should use most of it. The name Pan Bagnat literally means "wet bread" and you want to have enough to soak through all the toppings and into the bread. If you do have a little dressing left you can always do what I did and make a leftover salad with whatever veggies couldn't fit on the sandwich. Now lay your basil leaves on top of the pile and lay your welled top half of bread on.

Finally, lay down two long pieces of plastic wrap and wrap the sandwich as tightly as you can (literally, as tightly as possible!). Now leave it at room temperature for at least an hour for all the flavors to meld and marinate. In our experience this sandwich is best if made the night before, stuck in the fridge overnight, pulled out the the morning then eaten for lunch by the lake with a beer...or an iced tea if you're in the States.

I hope you've all enjoyed this first installment of Mangé à Notre Maison. This is my first mass recipe share so if you happen to try the sandwich, please let me know how it turned out.

Bon Appétit!

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