Club Sandwich

Club Sandwich

 This triple-decker sandwich with turkey, bacon, lettuce, and tomato is a classic for a good reason.


I'm not exaggerating when I say that on more than one occasion, a club sandwich saved my life. It's happened in so many circumstances. The time my five-hour flight delay was followed by a long, smelly ride to my hotel, where I was reduced to begging the night manager to give me the room I’d already paid for. Or when I agreed to go for a hike with friends and found myself ready to collapse after a four-hour-long slog in the mountains and desperate for a meal and a nap. I’ve found that no matter where life has deposited you, eating a club sandwich on the other side of it is guaranteed to soothe your soul. 
The fact that you can find a club sandwich at any diner (or even better, a hotel room service menu) can be misleading. This sandwich may be approachable, but there is a lot of complexity layered between the meat and bread. It’s equal parts texture and flavor; crunch and salt and meatiness balanced by crisp lettuce and a lush tomato, all held together with a generous swipe of mayo. Few sandwiches hit the spot so completely and perfectly, filling your stomach as they revive your spirit.
The club is greater than the sum of its parts, but how you layer those ingredients and the care you put into them is integral to the satisfaction it gives. I learned the importance of the architecture of a club sandwich while working as a hotel line cook whose responsibilities included room service orders. Having been a club sandwich fan all my life, I knew each time an order came in that even though it interrupted the fine dining vibe, this sandwich order was just as important as the Riesling-poached salmon. Someone in a room upstairs was seeking happiness and peace as they ordered this sandwich. They deserved my attention.
The details of a club sandwich make all the difference. Start with sliced white or wheat bread lightly toasted to a golden brown but not toasted so much that it dries out and falls apart when you need it to hold the sandwich together. This toast requires mayonnaise as a creamy counterpoint to the crunchy bread and lettuce, and as glue to hold all the components together. Collect a few bonus points if you stir a bit of Dijon into the mayonnaise to give it a little kick. The meat comes next; it belongs at the bottom, because it's the heaviest element. Cut the roast turkey or chicken into thin slices so it doesn't slip out of the sandwich when you take a bite. Add some lettuce, then bacon. Shatteringly crispy bacon is essential; thin slices of bacon are easier to layer in the sandwich than the thicker, meatier bacon you get from specialty butchers. Layer the tomato on top of the bacon so the slightly curled edges of each bacon rasher hold the slippery tomato slices in place.

The center piece of toast sits atop the tomato, so it absorbs some of the juices and provides a little traction to hold the tomato in place. That center piece is controversial in certain circles, but it is another must-have. It's the internal anchor for a sandwich, like a ceiling joist you can't fully explain but know is somehow holding the whole place together. I like to add a thin slice of red onion and a few torn basil leaves to the top half of the sandwich, but both are optional. The top half of the sandwich can mimic the bottom, or you might go a little lighter on the meat so it isn't top-heavy. Then, cut the sandwich into halves or quarters, secure it with some frilly toothpicks if you like, pour something carbonated so the bubbles dance around your mouth with each crunchy bite, and relax. Add some potato chips and a pickle spear if you can, but the sandwich is enough. 
Of course, there are plenty of variations out there. I don't think cheese belongs on a club, but that's me. The extra slices of ham some people add also feel unnecessary; we already have bacon and turkey here, folks. I have an intellectual understanding of why others like to add sliced avocado to a club, but I don't want that additional slippery component in my sandwich. (Do I need to talk sandwich architecture with you again?) You can find a good debate on whether whole lettuce leaves or shredded iceberg is better — go ahead and fight it out amongst yourselves. Either way, you have the perfect sandwich, and no matter what else life has thrown at you, it isn’t so bad. — Chandra Ram
Ingredients
6 slices white or whole wheat bread, toasted

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

4 thin slices roast turkey or chicken breast

8lettuce leaves (preferably red leaf or butter lettuce)

8 slices bacon, cooked until crisp

1 tomato, thinly sliced

2 thin slices red onion

4 basil leaves, torn into pieces (optional)


Directions

  1. Place toasted bread on a cutting board. Whisk together mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl and spread mixture on each piece of toast. Top 2 pieces of toast with 2 slices of turkey. Top each with a lettuce leaf, then 2 pieces of bacon and 1 slice of tomato. Top each with another slice of toast, mayonnaise side down. Spread more mayonnaise mixture on top of toast, then layer with remaining turkey, lettuce, bacon and tomato. Top with red onion, basil leaves and remaining slices of toast, and press down gently. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.

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