Several years ago, Jeff and I discovered a gem of a movie- “Spanglish.” This was not your typical Adam Sandler movie. In it, Adam plays a successful chef, and Tea Leoni his neurotic, insecure wife. She hires beautiful Paz Vega to be their housekeeper even though she’s just arrived from Mexico and speaks little to no English. I’m not going to give an in-depth review of this movie, but I heartily recommend it. While funny in parts, it’s also very poignant at other times. I wouldn’t even call it a comedy.
The best thing that came out of the movie, however, was what has become a staple meal at our house. “The World’s Greatest Sandwich.”
Created in real life by chef Thomas Keller specifically for the movie, when we first saw Adam Sandler’s character make it as a late-night snack, we actually rewound the DVD and took notes on how he made it.
The recipe is as follows. Recipe courtesy mission-food.com. (Serves one)
3-4 thick slices bacon
2 slices Monterey jack cheese
2 slices pain de compagne (rustic country loaf) toasted
1 tbsp. mayo
4 slices tomato
2 leaves butter lettuce (aka boston or bibb lettuce)
1 tsp butter
Cook bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels and set aside. Place slices of cheese on one slice of the toasted bread and place in toaster oven or under a broiler to melt the cheese. Spread the other slice of toast with the mayo, top with cooked bacon, sliced tomato and lettuce.
In a nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Fry egg, turning over briefly when the bottom is set. You want the yolk to be runny! Slide the finished egg on top of the lettuce. Top with the other slice of toast, melted cheese side down. Put on a plate, and slice sandwich in half. The yolk will ooze down in a beautiful way.
That, my friends, is how TO make the “world’s Greatest Sandwich.”
And now, ten steps on how NOT to make the “World’s Greatest Sandwich.” ( What I am about to tell you is the completely true story of last night’s dinner.)
So, you’ve had a long day, and don’t feel like making dinner but have already been through the drive-thru twice this week and it’s only Thursday? Have you hit your limit of ordering pizza or making Kraft mac n cheese?
Have I got the dinner for you!
Take an inventory of your needed ingredients. No pain de compagne lying around? No idea what pain de compagne even is, much less how to pronounce it? No problem. Go ahead and use the loaf you bought from the Safeway bakery two weeks ago that is too wide for your toaster, so no one in your house will use it. No lettuce and your tomatoes look like they’ve seen better days? No biggie. The kids won’t eat them anyway. In fact, your youngest likely has recently sworn off bacon. AND toast. AND cheese. He will only eat the egg.
Turn on the oven’s broiler setting. Soon you will smell something burning, and the smoke alarm will go off. I would advise you to calm your children, but they will probably be unfazed and just assume, as always, it’s an indication dinner is almost done. Open the oven door. Wait until last night’s French fries that fell off the tray are no longer engulfed in flames before attempting to retrieve them. Carefully, as in the game of “Operation,” use your tongs to remove the still-glowing embers that once were crinkle cut potatoes. Drop them into last night’s dinner pan that you currently have “soaking” in the sink. This will help them cool down. DO NOT place them in the trash where they will burn a hole through the plastic bag.
Heat a large pan for the bacon. Heat a medium pan for the eggs. Add butter. Turn the stove to high and walk away to maximize the chances you will burn the butter and have to start all over again. Add the bacon to the pan and then get distracted. Some pieces will be so crisp that they turn to powder when you touch them, while others will merely be “extra crispy.”
At this point you should make an attempt to shove the bread in the toaster, just to reaffirm that it won’t fit, and there is probably not a slot toaster made in which it WOULD fit.
Take a cookie sheet and squeeze as many pieces of your giant bread as possible onto it. Probably you will only be able to fit enough for 3 1/2 sandwiches. Add cheese to only two pieces, because none of the children want cheese on their sandwich, thus demoting the “World’s Greatest Sandwich” to an egg and bacon sandwich.
Broil these pieces of bread so that they are completely browned on top. Pull out the pan. You will later discover that they are completely untoasted on the reverse side, but only after it’s too late to do anything about it.
Because the bread is so large, remember you won’t be able to fit them all on the tray. You will need to broil 3 more pieces of bread (no cheese!) but should wait until after you’ve made the first few sandwiches. This way you will have children impatiently waiting while the others eat in front of them.
While awaiting the bread to be toasted and the next egg to cook (it’s taking three times as long now that you’ve turned it to low to avoid burning more butter), place the next child’s plate on an unused burner next to the pan frying the bacon. This will ensure that when you go to move the plate, it will burn off the entirety of your thumbprint, not just a partial. Think to yourself that this may come in handy at some point if you ever commit a crime. While you run your blistering thumb under the cold water, the bacon will suddenly increase it’s cooking speed by double, and the three additional pieces of bread under the broiler (as it turns out, the last three pieces of bread in the house) will char to a nice “Cajun” look. This will set off the smoke detector for the second time that night, conveniently alerting your 14 year old that it’s time to make his way downstairs for dinner.
*Note- It is important that when your thumb makes contact with the 500 degree plate, you yell the most profane word your two youngest children and your neighbor’s 8 year old daughter have ever heard. This will not, however, increase the chances of your husband getting off his computer game and rushing in to see what has caused you to cry out in pain, but it will make you VERY popular with your neighbor.
Because you so smartly burned the thumb on your right hand, you will now discover you can no longer crack the eggs. Make a few pathetic attempts at cracking eggs with your left hand. I believe a little shell is good for you. Tell your son this, and try to be convincing. Call your husband in for help. He cracks one egg and then goes back to the computer.
Once everyone is happily (or unhappily depending on who got the most burnt bread and bacon) eating, tend to your wound. A search of the medicine cabinet will reveal that your Neosporin expired 6 months ago, and none of your band-aids are large enough to cover your entire thumb. You will need at least two. Attempt to take pictures of the burn, but dismiss the idea of posting them because you see that every picture looks like a tiny male appendage.
Find someone who has two working hands and knows how to use a corkscrew.
And that is how to Make the “World’s Greatest Sandwich.” Or not.
Join me for my next installment: “Why I need to keep a stocked first aid kit in my kitchen at all times.”