Doing it a casa vostra allows you to source the best ingredients, take control of the process, and garner kudos when you present them at a family picnic as “just a few sandwiches I threw together earlier”.
If anyone questions your choice of ingredients, tell them that there is no such thing as an ‘official’ Club Sandwich recipe. When it emerged sometime towards the end of the 19th century – possibly at New York’s Union Club, or else in a Saratoga Springs gambling club – the Club Sandwich seems to have been a fairly simple ham and turkey sandwich. Somewhere towards the middle of the 20th century, the traditional ingredients of this three-course-meal of a snack had evolved to include, at the very least, turkey or chicken, ham or bacon, lettuce, tomato, hard-boiled eggs and mayo, enclosed between two slices of toasted white bread. Today, a third slice of toast is generally interposed to make a jaw-challenging double decker.
The version served by Gennaro Russo at Le Sirenuse is, he says, “lighter and healthier than the classic Club Sandwich – something we achieve by replacing the mayonnaise with guacamole”. It also benefits from being made in a part of the world where tomatoes actually taste of something. Gennaro uses traditional pomodori di Sorrento, the large, succulent beefsteak variety that also works so well with mozzarella in a caprese salad.
But feel free to experiment – Gennaro would be the first to agree that there is no such thing as the definitive Club Sandwich!
Le Sirenuse Club Sandwich
to serve 4
- 6 slices of good white bread with crusts cut off
- 2 eggs, boiled for 8 minutes then peeled and thinly sliced
- 16 slices of cooked turkey breast
- 2 large Sorrento tomatoes or equivalent, thinly sliced
- 8 bacon slices
- 16 lettuce leaves, cut julienne style
- For the guacamole: 2 ripe avocados, 1 small red onion, 1 lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
First, make the guacamole by scooping the flesh of the two avocados into a blender with oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add the juice of one lemon, then strain, and add the finely chopped onion. Feel free to add some chopped coriander and/or basil, if the fancy takes you.
If you’re really determined to do everything at home then you’ll need to get some prime turkey breast and cook it sous vide. Do this, and Gennaro will doff his toque in admiration, but for those of us without a whole day (or a roner) there is no shame, he says, in using good pre-cooked turkey breast (often sold as 'oven-roasted'). He advises splashing out on the best available, and making sure it’s thinly sliced.
Place the bacon slices on some greaseproof paper or a silicon sheet in the oven and crisp them up by cooking them for around 7 or 8 minutes at 180°C (or a little less if you’re using a fan oven).
Pretty much every Club Sandwich recipe you read will simply say “toast the bread”, or “toast the bread until golden”. But there’s an art to toasting bread. Gennaro recommends doing it in a sandwich maker rather than a regular toaster – so that the outside is well toasted but there’s still some give and softness inside the slice. There’s nothing worse, he says, than dry toast – and we couldn't agree more.
Now for the assembly. You’re going to be making two large double-decker sandwiches which will then be sliced diagonally from one corner to another and then diagonally across the remaining two corners to create eight mini Club Sandwiches in all, two per person.
Place the two bottom slices on your chosen cutting board, spread them generously with guacamole, then add the hard-boiled eggs, half of the turkey slices, and half of the lettuce. Seal with the middle slice of toast and add the tomato, the crunchy bacon, the other turkey slices, and the rest of the lettuce. Finally, hold firmly, and first slice off the four crusts together with any protruding ingredients, then slice diagonally from corner to corner in both directions to create your eight sandwich capolavori.
Gennaro likes to serve Club Sandwiches with a simple little salad of cherry tomatoes and basil – but he will allow you barbecue potato chips too, if you really insist…
Photos © Roberto Salomone
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