Monday, April 4

Pan Bagnat - The Wet Provençal Sandwich

Today's post is about the Pan Bagnat sandwich, but before I start let me give a huge shout out to Novak Djokovic for winning every single tennis match this year. Nole, I know you read this and let's hope your winning streak continues for a long time...

Also, congratulations to Dave and Olivia on their first child -  a healthy 3335 g, 49 cm baby boy! Best wishes to all three of you!

And now on to Pan Bagnat...

Although invented in Nice to be eaten on hot summer days, and enjoyed with fresh seasonal Mediterranean ingredients, this "slow" cold sandwich does not have an equivalent at any season and at any place.
Le Pan Bagnat literally means "wet bread"on the Occitan language. But contrary to what many people would think, it is not soaked in the water. The  famous French chef  Jacques Pepin says that Le Pan Bagnat originally consisted of salad of different ingredients mixed with pieces of leftover bread. In an ordinary sandwich, fresh vegetables can make the bread wet and bad. This wet bread method actually achieves the opposite: the longer you "marinate" it, the more flavour you get. The mixture of  Mediterranean ingredients, and the process of wrapping it tightly in a foil and resting for a long time under pressure, so juices are absorbed by the bread, is the secret behind this unusual sandwich. French use small round white bread, like a round ciabatta. I have used regular long French bread, and it worked great. The best results are achieved with a nice rustic crusty bread. If you do not have one at hand, you can make the original " Le Pain Francais" with a recipe I provide at the bottom (found on French blogs Le Petrin and Jojocuisine).

My tip: Leave the sandwich in a fridge for 12-24 hours to achieve the best flavour.

important part of making this sandwich is wrapping and pressing

Le Pan Bagnat recipe

1/2 cucumber
1 round country-style loaf or homemade French bread*
18 oil-cured olives; pitted, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 small anchovies; coarsely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
5 slices red onion; very thin
1/3 green bell pepper; thinly sliced
1 ripe tomato; thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
12 basil leaves

Peel the cucumber, and slice it lengthwise with a vegetable peeler into long, thin strips, discarding the seedy center. Cut the loaf of bread in half horizontally. In a bowl, mix together the olives, garlic, anchovies (with their oil), and the olive oil. Spread the mixture on the cut surface of both bread halves, and then arrange the slices of onion, green pepper, and tomato on the bottom half of the loaf. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and arrange the basil leaves and then the cucumber slices on top. Invert the top half of the bread to reform the loaf, and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for couple of hours with something heavy on top (canned goods or a milk carton). This enables the juices in the filling to flow through the bread. At serving time, unwrap the loaf, and cut into wedges to serve.

Optional ingredients that you can add:

- hard boiled eggs
- vinegar
- artichoke hearts of the country
- radish
- onions
- bread rubbed with garlic

* French bread for Le Pan Bagnat

Le pain Francais
(French bread):

Ingredients: for about 10 round rolls  
- 550 g of flour (T65 or T55) or unbleached 
- 200 ml milk
- 155 ml water
- 30 ml sunflower oil 
- 3 tsp instant dry yeast 
- 1 tsp salt (the best :Special End Pain; The Guérandais) 
 -1 tbsp icing sugar

proudly French, with the official web site recipe

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