In a sense, to smush, press, or mash a sandwich could feel redundant but it’s not. It is a tool employed to make certain kinds of sandwiches better. Case in point, a Cuban, panini, a shooter’s sandwich, and pan bagnat.
I love all these sandwiches. Classics, each and everyone.
In the heat of summer, I rely on the pan bagnat, which when translated means bathed bread. It is a vegetable based sandwich from the south of France, it is light and I find it refreshing. Often the ingredients list is patterned after a Salad Nicoise subbing in anchovies for the tuna. For me I like to use omega-3 oil rich sardines but use whatever tinned fish you fancy.
The sandwich is built in layers, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and then some sort of weight is put on top of it. At my house the sandwich gets sandwiched between sheet trays and the milk and juice jugs set on top compress it. Because the sandwich is lightly salted and weighted after a couple of hours under pressure a lot of liquid is released only to be soaked back up by the bread.
And that’s the genius of this sandwich. In my experience it never gets soggy but instead it becomes meltingly tender, the juices mingle, and in the end this makes for a perfect sandwich on a hot summer day.
Pan Bagnat (makes 1 sandwich)
a 6-inch (15.25cm) piece of French baguette
1 tin skinless, bonleless, sardines in oil
1 small cucumber, peeled
1 medium sized tomato, sliced
5 or 6 thinly sliced red onion rings, skin removed
8 picholine olives or olive of you choice
fresh ground black pepper
- Slice the baguette in half lengthwise. On one piece of the bread coat the interior with mayonnaise. On the other spread out a tablespoon or two of salsa verde.
- Using the peeler, peel thin strips of cucumber, 10 or more of them. Lay them in an even layer across the salsa verde side. Give the cucumbers a sprinkle of salt.
- Top the cucumber with the sardines, on top of the sardines lay out the tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Top the tomato with red onion. Place the olives onto the mayonnaise so they stick.
- Place the olive/mayonnaise bread on top of the sandwich. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and then either place a brick on top, a sheet tray with weight, something heavy. Let the sandwich remain weighted for at least three hours to overnight.
- To serve remove the plastic wrap, slice on the diagonal, and serve with a glass of chilled dry white wine.
7 thoughts on “Pan Bagnat – Summer’s Best Sandwich”
This sandwich reminds me of a story Mark Kurlansky related about a lunch that John Ash had with MFK Fisher late in her life. She made a sandwich on a frencch loaf (i don’t recall what was in it, however), mummified it in saran wrap and had John Ash SIT ON the sandwich while they chatted for an hour. She then said lunch was ready, unwrapped and sliced the warmed, flat sandwich and they both enjoyed lunch.
Good job Tom. Colmaan andrews insists that you use imported canned tuna and not things like pan seared ahi. If you are going to use anchovies I would suggest boquerones, pickled while anchovies.
The pickled white anchovies are my favorite. I was thinking about you the other day old friend. I have been wondering what the f52 crew had been up too?
This looks delicious! I’ll have to give it a shot this week.
Thank you, I hope you do!
This is a great summer sandwich idea! Do you refrigerate the sandwich while it’s weighted?
I refrigerate it.
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