Being a Dane (when I feel like it), I’ve never had a taste for closed sandwiches. Which is not to say that I don’t love bread – I do, in all its glorious chewy starchiness. But in my universe, the best bread is eaten solo, with butter (perhaps cheese), while the main focus of sandwiches are the toppings, in which case all that bread is just a silly distraction (also, incidentally, why I love rice cakes: just platforms for piling on toppings).
This also means that if I order a burger anywhere, I’ll simply ignore the bread and eat the meat. (This is actually a fairly normal Danish way of dealing with minced beef. HakkebÃ¸f, or “chopped steak”, is simply a meal of beef patties with lots of fried onions. Yum.)
Until last night. The Philosophe braai-ed (=bbq) us a couple of his 11 secret-herbs-and-spices burgers, including some Bobby Flay-inspired tip which involved spreading a cheesy-tomato mixture on the burgers in their final minutes of cooking on the grill. I had baked us some rolls earlier in the day, which we then sliced and buttered and gave a light toasting on the coals. If ever there was a time to try to full monty burger experience, this was it.
Mustard on the top half, chutney (!!), and pickles on the other. I closed that baby up, squashed it down, and went hand-to-mouth. And you know what? I finally get it! There is indeed a reason that these things have been around for so long. It was delicious. (Though it leaves no room for a brownie for dessert).
Then there was the Beef Wellington I whipped up the other night. There was nothing classical about it – I wrapped the fillet in onions and chorizo (no bacon/prosciutto or mushrooms in the house), and the pastry was not puff but some leftover croissant dough I had. Still, it’s a wonder what you can conjure with a couple of things from the fridge (yes, there just happened to be a piece of beef fillet in there too):
Ignoring the fact that the meat was raw the first time I cut it open – meaning we had to wait another 10 minutes for dinner – the combination of crispy pastry and melting tender meat when we finally got stuck in is truly good, even in all its kitschy glory. Now I understand why Gordon Ramsay keeps putting it on the Hell’s Kitchen menu (and I confess I had a moment of terror as I imagined his voice in my head when I first sliced it open: “you stupid c**t, you f**ked it up… throw it out…clear down and GET OUT! (Sotto voce) Holy f**k!).
No, thankfully there ain’t no Ramsay in this house. But we do have a black pig that roams about the neighbourhood. Sometimes it hurtles down the street for no apparent reason other than glee at being a pig (what’s not to love?).
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s right. Pulled pork sandwiches. Twice-cooked pork belly.Â En croute. Somebody stop me.