A West Village coffee shop recently commissioned me to make sandwiches to sell to their customers along with their first-rate java. I set out on foot with a notebook and an empty stomach, in search of ingredients that personified downtown neighborhoods. First, I hit up Blue Ribbon Bakery and loaded my backpack with loaves of rye, nine grain, Pullman and a couple Ciabattas. Heading east on Houston, I arrived at Russ and Daughters, the premier pickled fish store of the Lower East Side (the city?). Enclosed in the glass cases were mounds of whole salt-cured fish, bellies sliced open and exposed and stacks of gravlox form Scotland, Nova Scotia, Ireland and Norway. Beside the mighty pink filets were stainless-steel pans piled high with pickled herring, salmon tartar and pickled beet salad. On Orchard Street, I came across Gus’s Pickles, where big old barrels of aged pickles stood in a line outside the door. My final stop was the Essex Street Market, an indoor open marketplace comprised of butchers, cheese shops, vegetable stands and a wonderful offering of ethnic foods that can’t be found at an ordinary grocery store. Once home, I began assembling a variety of sandwiches using the ingredients in my knap sack. The lesson of the day? A sandwich is only as good as its fixins. If you lack the motivation to construct this fine sammy on your own, visit Jack’s Coffee on West 10th Street and try mine. Cheers.
Smoked Pork Shoulder Sandwich (Serves 1)
2 thick-cut slices Pullman bread
1/4 pound smoked pork shoulder, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons barbeque sauce (Bone Suckin’ is my personal favorite)
1 tablespoon soft, salted butter
A few thinly cut slices of English or Irish Cheddar (real sharp)
1 new pickle sliced thinly lengthwise
A touch of olive oil
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey (NYC Rooftop honey can be found at Berkshire Berries in the Union Square Farmer’s Market)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt; fresh ground pepper
In a small frying pan, warm a touch of olive oil over low heat. Add the red onions and a little salt and sauté until soft. Add balsamic and honey and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes; set aside. On one slice of Pullman, slather the barbeque sauce. Lay a few slices of the pork shoulder on top of it. Salt and pepper the meat. Place three of the pickle slices down. Scatter the cheese on top and pile on the sweet onions. Butter the other slice of bread. Slice crosswise and serve. This sandwich tastes delicious with a Brooklyn Lager. I know you’re with me.