By Kate Krader Bloomberg
n the past few weeks, a Reddit post dedicated to the perfect tomato sandwich has garnered nearly 700 comments. Among the points under debate are the correct breads to use (sourdough, ciabatta, a baguette), the necessary condiments, and whether a cheese – namely mozzarella – is required.
With all respect to the Reddit community, there is one right answer to this question and it can be found in the new cookbook “The Chef’s Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables,” by Farmer Lee Jones with Kristin Donnelly
In a section dedicated to tomatoes, Jones discloses the secret to the most perfect, sunny-summer-day-evoking tomato sandwich – and it’s not just to choose your produce wisely.
Jones knows what he’s talking about: He is one of the country’s best-known and most respected farmers. The Chef’s Garden is a 30-plus-year-old institution based in Huron, Ohio, that supplies everything from the brightest colored carrots, to more esoteric ingredients
The recipes run toward ambitious, with complex dishes like black salsify carbonara, celery root soup en croute, and beet marshmallows.
But the book’s simplest dish is the tomato sandwich. The authors acknowledge that unlike almost every other ingredient in the world, there’s not much you can do to make a perfect tomato better. To make the ideal sandwich, they stick with foundational bread, tomato, mayo and salt. “We do, however, explore the best possible combination of these humble ingredients,” writes Jones.
He saw no reason to fool around with a blown-out version of the summer classic. “There are few things we choose not to take creative liberties with,” Simpson explained. “And one of those is the tomato sandwich.”
The key to this excellent sandwich is simple: The tomato slice should be at least as thick as the slice of bread. “When you’ve added two slices of bread, the tomato has a chance to remain on the hierarchical throne it deserves,” Simpson said. And he’s right. If you have enough tomato to try an experiment, stack one test case sandwich with thin slices of tomato and the other with one big, thick slice that matches that of the bread. The first won’t deliver the same pronounced bursting, tomatoey bite, as the second.
Simpson argues that the amount and placement of mayo is important, too. It should be “creamy and rich to serve as a bridge between the two layers of bread and tomato.” The result is a taste of summer, a juicy tomato, accented with a little salt to bring out the sweetness with a light blanket of tangy mayo and tender bread that’s not so crusty it gets in the way of the tomato.
Perfect Tomato Sandwich
Makes 4 sandwiches
8 slices of noncrusty bread, about ¾-inch thick
About ½ cup mayonnaise
2-3 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cut into ¾-inch thick slices
Fine fleur de sel
Arrange the bread on a cutting board and spread each slice with mayo. Arrange the tomatoes on half the slices and sprinkle with salt. Top with the second bread slice and serve