Sandwich...A Cook-on-the-go's Best Friend
The Miller's Table's Albacore Tuna Salad Sandwich
It’s a funny thing, coming from a fine dining world, and having been inspired, practically my whole life, by the creative intensity of chefs, to imagine a menu driven by sandwiches. Now, I’ll defend the sandwich to anyone…I mean it is a kitchen go-to…scraps and odds and ends, handily transportable between bread or other pliable and adaptable vehicles. Simply put it can be a cook-on-the-go’s best friend.
But I wanted to capture flavor and simplicity in our sandwich menu, with clarity and truth to flavor. Being thoughtful on the build….the way the palate hits the layers and the way you enjoy the flavors reveal themselves and linger.
I started with sort of a Latin theme, both European and of the Americas. I used names and places and looked into a couple of flavor profiles. I had also been deeply influenced by the panini and cheese shops of Italy (a menu program I still desperately hope to achieve one day.)
I subtracted ingredients so as to not get in the way of the primary tastes and I paid attention to texture and crunch.
Ultimately we arrived at the handful of sandwiches that you have come to know and love. But here is the secret, and it’s an open secret that all good cooks quote…start with good ingredients. You know that we have been in the Prager Brother’s bread camp since we opened, and I must say, I even went so far as to take a sandwich from another spot and deconstruct it off their house bread on to a Prager Brother bread and it was elevated immediately. So….happy to continue to utilize this handcrafted bread.
But another, and dare I say, even more, important starting ingredient is the bit that is the center of the plate of the sandwich, its core ingredient. So, here we go…and by all means hope you try this at home!
Sushi-grade Albacore Tuna
We start with sushi-grade albacore (at one point we had access to sashimi-grade albacore that I do wish was still readily available - but such is the name of the game). We pasteurize (slowly cook for a minimum of 30 minutes) a blend of great olive oil, lemon peel, thick rings of onion (affectionately known as “tuna onion” and used for our Caesar Aioli - no waste here!!), herbs, salt, and peppercorns. Then slicing against the grain we create tuna steaks (that I should totally serve on their own) and we immerse them into this warm olive oil bath. Gentle, gentle cooking and at least a 24-hour soak.
To make the salad we flake the tuna after we drain and reserve the oil, being sure not to make it into mush, we want the shaggy flakes to be evident in the finished salad. We cut celery into delicate dice (and when possible use baby celery or the super tender and sweet celery hearts) and then a brunoise of house-preserved lemon. Gently tossed again not to make a mushy paste but to incorporate the ingredients. Then, and I do not feel shame, though could really only call myself a chef (not yet) if I made my own, we fold in Best Foods tm. I had to decide…raw egg? inconsistent results? or a tasty and trusty friend?? Voila!
This with the Prager Flatbread and our vegan house-made olive tapenade, living lettuce pulled off the stalk to order, and heirloom tomato. Simple right? To this day my Dad’s fave and just yummy!
Here are a couple of technique pics….and yeah sure you too can make a simple and delish tuna…but do know…we sell it by the scoop/pound and of course by the sandwich!!!
Oh…pairing you say? Crisp whites with decent acidity, light, and refreshing beers…with the tapenade a light & chillable red will play nicely.
Next installment...Let's talk turkey!