There is something delightfully tactile about eating with your hands, both simple and instantly intimate. However, there is nothing basic about this epic sandwich. It is a defiant showstopper, a symphony of tastiness and definitely not an eat-on-the-run situation. While some like it hot, the brilliant thing about sandwiches is that there are no rules, each is its own culinary adventure, so feel free to edit or amp this magnificent edible edifice in any direction your imagination takes you. A hearty serve for one, lunch for two, or a brilliant tapas-style bar snack for 3-4.
For the pickled fennel
- 2 medium fennel bulbs
- 3 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 375ml water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2-3 sprigs of thyme or lemon thyme
- 375ml vinegar (white, apple cider, white wine, and sherry all work well)
For the roll
- 1 large airy ciabatta roll or panini
- 60g stracciatella
- 4 slices ripe tomato
- Handful rocket leaves
- 60g pickled fennel
- 6 slices prosciutto di san daniele
- 12 slices salame picante or hot salami
- Handful of crisp potato or sweet potato chips
- 40ml chilli mayo or smoked chilli pesto
1. To pickle the fennel
2. To make the roll
Split the roll in half lengthwise and put into a moderate oven for 4-5 minutes to heat (alternatively, you could lightly toast the cut sides under a salamander or face down on a griddle).
Working quickly, place the hot roll cut side up and generously slather the bottom half with stracciatella and a nice grind of black pepper. Add the sliced tomato, rocket and pickled fennel, then layer the prosciutto and salami picante. Add a handful of potato chips, and finally spread the top of the roll with chilli mayo or smoked chilli pesto and place carefully on top. Secure with a skewer or two, slice and serve immediately.
Note: Go green! Sub out the tomato and chilli mayo for green tomato dusted with polenta and fried in olive oil, marinated artichoke, green olives, and a green chilli and pistachio pesto.