How To Make A Pan Bagnat

by brys on July 20, 2011 · 7 comments

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Yesterday, with the July weather here more like the South of France (hot but cool in the shade, breezy and dry) than Charleston (steamy), I was craving something Niçoise for lunch.

When that craving came to mind, I remembered an older episode of Good Eats, when Alton Brown made his version of a sandwich commonly found on the streets of Nice — the Pan Bagnat. I had never made one before, so thought I’d give it a try.

Brown’s recipe was pretty straightforward, and looked pretty much like the Pan Bagnat I used to know: baguette, canned tuna, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives, vinaigrette made with red wine vinegar and a little mustard. He called for sliced red onions, but I decided to leave those out. I made a shopping list, grabbed everything at the store, then started putting the sandwich together.

I started with the dressing. Brown called for 3 tablespoons olive oil to 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Being a vinegar lover and remembering the sharp twang of the Pan Bagnat I used to eat, I reversed those proportions. I whisked together three tablespoons of red wine vinegar and one teaspoon of Dijon mustard, sprinkled in lots of freshly ground pepper and a little salt, and drizzled in the tablespoon of olive oil until the dressing emulsified.

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Taking a cue from Brown’s recipe, I pulled away some of the bread’s soft white crumb to make room for everything else. I spooned a little of the dressing onto the bread, then started layering.

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I thinly sliced a ripe tomato and arranged that on one of the baguette slices,

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drained and pulled apart a small can of tuna and put that on the other,

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sliced a handful of pitted green and black Kalamata olives and put those over the tuna,

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and topped the olives with a sliced hard-boiled egg I had made earlier.

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I drizzled over the rest of the dressing, sprinkled over a little more red wine vinegar for good luck,

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and quickly but carefully joined the two halves.

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I tightly wrapped the sandwich in plastic wrap per Brown’s instructions (so the dressing would have a chance to permeate everything), and put the sandwich in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

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It was damn good — not quite like walking through the streets of Nice, but it’d do for today.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

jenny July 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm

wow. I am totally craving this right now.

scott August 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm

that is one fine looking pan bagnat! a sandwich that I would enjoy sinking my hungry teeth into right now!

CJ August 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm

That is one of my favorite sandwiches. I do like to add either sweet onion or minced garlic to the dressing and although not authentic, a bit of lettuce.

It’s the wrapping that’s the secret to the final texture and melding of flavors.

mmmmm….I know what I’m having tomorrow.

Thanks!

CJ August 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Oh, and it’s especially good with a bit of anchovy mashed into the salad dressing, a slice or two of provolone, and a few basil leaves layered into the sandwich.

Forgot to add to the wrapping- Weighting the sandwich for an hour or so sort of forces all the goodness to meld together.

But who can wait that long!

Courtney August 23, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I love that idea! Years ago on Martha Stewart’s earlier program she made a huge one , like a muffaletta bread and put deli meats and artichoke hearts and homemade mayo,plus vinaigrette and some things I don’t remember. I thought GREAATTT and then,” I can’t eat all that!” Thanks for the smaller version, I can do that.

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