As we embarked on a recent road trip with friends, the anticipation of good company and adventure filled the air. Naturally, a pitstop at a charming deli was in order to gather some delectable french ham sandwiches for the journey. The usual suspects—turkey, roast beef, Swiss cheese—made their appearances on our list, each adorned with the preferred condiments. However, my choice stood out among the crowd—I opted for the classic allure of mustard, a condiment that harks back to the New York delis of my upbringing.
Growing up in the city that never sleeps, delis were predominantly either Italian or Jewish, and the condiment debate was simple: mustard or no mustard. Mayo was a mere afterthought, seldom offered, and scarcely considered. My allegiance to mustard stems from those early days, a culinary preference deeply rooted in tradition. After all, your choice of condiment often depends on what you’ve grown accustomed to.
I fondly recall my proximity to a charming German establishment, the Bavarian Inn, renowned for its late-night french ham sandwich offerings. Regardless of your selection, one thing remained constant—the bread was meticulously buttered. Mustard, a loyal companion to Italian and Jewish sandwiches, found a new partner in butter when it came to the German culinary landscape. These experiences paved the way for a recent gastronomic adventure inspired by an article from the esteemed Florence Fabricant.
In her piece, “The Proustian Ideal of a french ham sandwich recipe,” Fabricant delves into the exquisite simplicity of a classic french ham sandwich recipe — the Jambon Beurre. The mere mention of ham nestled between a buttered baguette evokes a sense of nostalgia and culinary yearning. Intrigued by the prospect, I decided to recreate this French masterpiece, stripping it down to its core components—ham, baguette, and butter—no embellishments, no frills.
The simplicity of the ingredients is the hallmark of the Jambon Beurre, a testament to the French culinary philosophy that quality speaks for itself. Armed with a fresh baguette, high-quality ham, and a generous helping of butter, I set out to craft my own rendition of this classic sandwich.
Selecting the Ingredients
The foundation of any exceptional sandwich lies in the quality of its ingredients. For the perfect Jambon Beurre, start with a fresh and crusty baguette. Look for a ham that boasts a rich flavor profile, perhaps from a local deli or a specialty butcher. Don’t compromise on the butter—opt for a high-quality, unsalted butter to elevate the richness of the sandwich.
Preparing the Baguette
Begin by slicing the baguette horizontally, creating the perfect canvas for the layers of ham and butter. The texture of the baguette is crucial—it should be crisp on the outside and delightfully soft on the inside. If you’re feeling adventurous, lightly toast the baguette to add an extra layer of crunch to your sandwich.
Layering the French Ham Sandwich
Next comes the star of the show—the ham. Whether you prefer a smoky flavor or a more delicate taste, ensure that the ham is thinly sliced for an even distribution of flavors. Gently layer the ham onto the baguette, allowing its natural flavors to shine through.
Embracing Butter as the Maestro
Here’s where the magic happens. Generously spread unsalted butter on both sides of the baguette. The butter acts as the maestro, orchestrating a symphony of flavors and textures. It not only adds a velvety richness but also complements the savory notes of the ham.
The Art of Assembly
With the baguette adorned with ham and butter, it’s time to bring it all together. Press the halves together, allowing the ingredients to meld into a harmonious union. The result is a masterpiece—a French ham sandwich recipe that embodies simplicity, elegance, and an unparalleled depth of flavor.
Savoring the Moment
As I took the first bite of my homemade Jambon Beurre, I was transported to the streets of Paris, where every bite tells a story of culinary craftsmanship. The interplay of flavors— the salty allure of the ham, the creamy richness of the butter, and the rustic charm of the baguette—created a symphony on my taste buds.
Crafting the perfect French ham sandwich recipe is a culinary journey that celebrates the art of simplicity. The Jambon Beurre, with its minimalistic approach and emphasis on high-quality ingredients, pays homage to the rich tapestry of French gastronomy. So, the next time you find yourself yearning for a taste of France, embrace the allure of the Jambon Beurre—a classic that transcends borders and captivates the senses. Bon appétit!