One sandwich I have never gotten around to liking is the chicken salad sandwich. Perhaps it’s because I was introduced to it at a deli counter. The mayonnaise was so plentiful that I could hardly taste the chicken. Since then I’ve stayed away from all chicken salads, and supermarket deli counter foods for that matter. Still searching for a quick meal last night I decided to attempt to make my own and thereby kill two birds with a single chicken breast: rescue the chicken salad from mayonnaise hell and make a week night meal in time for Anders and I to enjoy a date night (go see the movie Unstoppable). Both were handily accomplished.
We’re not sure this is a classic Danish open faced sandwich in the sense that the toppings are a bit untraditional. Fried sage and Dukkah? That’s not what you would typically see in a Danish sandwich shop. But the concept is very typical: Meatball sandwiches are seen everywhere and classic toppings includes sweet pickles, lettuce and mushrooms. We just improvised on the theme, adding a bit of San Diego flair…
Unlike many of my American friends who were tormented by liver as children, I actually do like liver. Well, I do if either my mother or I made the dish. Oh… and I shouldn’t forget that liver breakfast served by the Pegasus hotel in Jamaica. At least, they used to when I frequented that place about 10 years ago. Liver just happens to be one of those dishes that can so easily cross the very thin line between sumptuous and sickening, light and leathery. This is especially true of cow’s liver, which I have been unfortunate enough to dive it only to find myself masticating like a cow! For that reason, I prefer to eat liver only from people whose cooking abilities I can entrust my liver eating palate only to – those who have consistently demonstrated the ability to respect that line of demarcation. Until I discovered liver pate, I thought that was a realm occupied only by myself and the chef at Pegasus. Liver pate is one of those dishes that are remarkably forgiving of overcooking. I’ve never made liver pate myself but have been happily eating it since Anders introduced me to it on my first trip to Denmark a few years back. It is the key part of one of his favorite smørrebrød items.
This past week one of this blogs co-founders celebrated his birthday and was given a party that in true Amazing Sandwich style. Anders was not only born in Denmark but spent most of his life there and it is his and that country’s commitment to the sandwich that served as the inspiration for our blog. Denmark is the world that has transformed this humble meal to gourmet standards. So it was only appropriate that Anders’ birthday be celebrated with an ode to the smørrebrød. So last week saw me scurrying about to purchase the necessary ingredients that would make Ida Davidsen proud. Ida Davidsen is the Grande Dame of Danish smørrebrød and operates a Michelin-starred restaurant devoted solely to this national dish. We planned on three of Anders’ favorite Danish smørrebrød: leverpostej (liver pate), Fiskefilet med remoulade (fillet of fish with remoulade) and frikadeller (meatballs). Today’s entry will be devoted to the fiskefilet. I know you are thinking – what could be so special about a fish fillet? Let me tell you my friend, this is no mere fish on bread. The preparation, construction and… alone took me hours. We had 14 at our party and so in making for your own, you’ll need to adjust the ingredients accordingly.
Call me crazy, but I just love the dark brown parts of liver pâté. I realize that may not be the preference of most other sane people, but what can I do against such deliciousness. So these pictures may not do full justice to the wonderful slice of Maria’s liver pâté, but I can assure you that once you bite into this little black diamond, your buds will thank you.
The sautéed side of zucchini with garlic and lemon matches perfectly the sautéed leeks and roasted walnuts.
A simple ham sandwich on dark rye bread, with melted cheese, onion and corn. The mustard gives it all a kick, and in retrospect perhaps we should have added a bit of freshly grated horseradish. If anyone tries that, let us know how it works out in the comments. This sandwich is highly dependent on the quality of the ham, so don’t be stingy. This here is our Jamaican Christmas ham, which is cooked traditionally with pineapples and lots of cloves, and works brilliantly for sandwiches and pizzas. Since we come from Jamaica and Denmark, this sandwich could be considered a cultural merger.
The most common sandwich in Denmark is probably the liver pâté Sandwich. Every school kid knows it, and often hates it due to the sometimes bare-bones minimum effort put into making it. This sandwich here we call “The Grey Lady”, and it’s a play on the traditional liver pâté ‘blah’ version – A serious upgrade if you will. It is not the most attractive sandwich, but it taste awesome. One last upgrade we could still add is using goose liver pate, but we couldn’t find any locally so that will have to wait.
We just recently discovered the Spanish Valdeon cheese on an impulse buy from Trader Joe’s, and since then we’ve used it in several of our sandwiches. It’s not an overly strong blue-cheese, but not mild like Roquefort either. It sits comfortably in the middle of the spectrum, making it a great addition to sandwiches because it adds a lot of flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
This sandwich is on freshly baked Danish rye bread, with our leftover Jamaican Christmas ham (oh soo good). The baked pineapple that’s included was actually baked with the original ham, but you can of course use a fresh one. Enjoy.
When I was a kid, every other weekend I would spend with my dad and my step-mom. They lived in an old house in a residential neighborhood outside Copenhagen, with a great big yard with lots of plants and flowers and tables tucked away in corners. We always ate lunch outside when the weather was good, and I remember at the time I didn’t like it that much because of the bees, but it really was an amazing place to enjoy a good meal.
When I came visiting, often the first thing that greeted me was the smell of baked liver Pâté. My step-mom made the best liver Pâté I’ve ever had, and while it baked the whole house would take on the flavor and everyone would start gathering in the kitchen when we knew it was just about time to remove it from the oven. Ten minutes before, we would start toasting some dark rye bread and setup lunch outside. We would all gather the plates, cutlery and work together as a team, knowing that the reward was just around the corner.
The sound of the old timer’s bell chiming was the most wonderful thing you’ll ever hear. As we sat outside in the sun, making our warm liver pâté sandwiches, a silence fell as we enjoyed that first bite.
Perhaps I make it sound overly romantic, but that’s my own experience with this pate. My step-mom’s secret ingredient was curry, and she never gave it away. A few years ago cancer overcame her, and we thought her recipe was lost forever. However, a couple of months ago while I was visiting Denmark, I asked my sister again if she had found the recipe, and to my surprise she had. Tucked away in a pile of papers that had gone unnoticed for years, there it was.
So now, for the first time in maybe 15 years, this pâté which I have named Maria’s Liver Pâté after my step-mom, has finally seen the light of day again.
And once more, the house smells like childhood and summer and bees and flowers, and everything is as it should be.
If you are following our musing on this blog, you know by now that Anders looooves mashed potato sandwiches and we both love roasted garlics. So it should come as no surprise that we at some point had to mix the two. Of course, we also enjoy cheese, so this sandwich was inevitable. In a moment of pure inspiration (we’re very modest), Anders decided to cut up a piece of Teriyaki Beef Jerky into really fine pieces, very much like little bacon pieces, and sprinkle on top. The result was great. After you finish chewing through the first layer, you end up with little pieces of jerky at the end of each bite. Very cool.
I consider this a variation on the veterinarians midnight snack, a classic Danish sandwich (In Danish: ‘Dyrlægens natmad‘. Try saying that one!). The bones of Anders’ Viking ancestors will rattle in their graves to protest me saying this, but in this variant, the inclusion of the roasted garlic and the removal of the aspic is a HUGE improvement. Together, those simple actions make this sandwhich palatable for me, a non-Dane. Anders thinks this presentation is a bit more playful, looking a bit like a rib cage or something medieval. I suppose, it’s his attempt at appeasing the spirits 🙂 It consists of liver pate on home-baked rye bread with butter, with a rolled up slice of ham. This is topped with half-moon slices of onion rings, roasted garlic and a couple of dill pickles. Fennel seeds and ground black pepper spices it up a bit.
The roast beef sandwich is yet another classic piece of smørrebrød. Generous layers of roast beef are stacked with remoulade, capers, sweet dill pickles, fried onions, salt and pepper. It comes with a variety of options, such as different smears (duck fat, butter, roasted garlic or mustard like this one). Typically it also has a nice little dash of shredded horseraddish, but I couldn’t find any on the day I made this.
The classic Danish cheese sandwich is extravagent to say the least. This one, from the restaurant Peter Liep, represents the extreme amount of cheese that is needed. In fact, we couldn’t even see the bread when it was served.
“Dyrlægens natmad” as it is called in Denmark is an old sandwich like your mom used to make them. In English, it’s translated as “The veterenarians midnight snack”. It consists of liver pate on rye bread, topped with corned beef (or other salted meat), aspic, and onion rings. In this version, we start our assembly by adding lettuce at the base.