I've let Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book languish on my desk for too long, so this weekend I finally decided to make a recipe from this famously excessive sandwich collection. (Stay tuned for a full cookbook review.) Since I was having friends over for a casual dinner, I avoided the more labor-intensive recipes in favor of a simple but delicious sandwich that would showcase the fresh tomatoes I bought that morning at the farmers market.
This PLT — pancetta, lettuce, and tomato — is a variation on the classic BLT (from New York's 'Ino) using Italian pancetta and arugula. Silverton's book is designed so that, if you choose, you can prepare each ingredient without shortcuts — for instance, braising artichokes rather than buying jarred ones or even making bread from scratch. Since the recipe called for it, I opted to make my own lemon aioli from Silverton's recipe. But despite my ambition, this dinner ended up being something of a disaster. To find out why, read more.
Though I followed the directions for baking the pancetta in the oven, my very fatty (and delicious) cuts of pork weren't crisping up enough, so I transferred them to the broiler with the intention of leaving them in just a few more minutes. But you know I mentioned I was having folks over for dinner? Well, I got a bit distracted and forgot about the pancetta until it was too late; the gourmet meat burned to a crisp. (I documented the disaster in the gallery below.)
I salvaged enough to make one PLT, but the other guests got TLTs, made with turkey I happened to have on hand. (You can see the turkey lurking in the background of the photos.) Given, the sandwiches were still tasty, even with turkey. Drizzling the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkling them with kosher salt really brought out the summery flavor, and the lemon aioli tasted tangy, garlicky, and remarkably fresh. I substituted soft ciabatta for the sliced sourdough, and the pillowy bread went wonderfully with the Italian flavors. So I definitely recommend the recipes, with one caveat: It's better if you don't burn the pancetta.
1 recipe lemon aioli Makes 4 sandwiches. *I used one loaf of ciabatta, sliced horizontally, then cut into four separate sandwiches. Since I was using the ciabatta I skipped step 4 and left my bread untoasted.
8 ounces pancetta, sliced into 16 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling over the tomatoes
2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, core end discarded, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
8 slices white or whole-wheat sourdough bread*
Approximately 2 cups arugula leaves, loosely packed (about 1 to 1 1/2 ounces)
1 recipe lemon aioli
Makes 4 sandwiches.
*I used one loaf of ciabatta, sliced horizontally, then cut into four separate sandwiches. Since I was using the ciabatta I skipped step 4 and left my bread untoasted.
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (about 1 tablespoon) Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 extra-large egg yolk
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2-3 teaspoons warm water
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.