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Thursday, 10 February 2011

How to Make a Club Sandwich – the Moveable Feast

You’d have thought that there would be some agreement over just exactly what is a Club Sandwich. Surely, there is no argument that it is a double-decker affair, with two layers of filling between three slices of bread? Nope, even that basic identity is challenged: some say that the original was only a two-slice sandwich, and it’s the fillings that count.

Okay, what fillings? Well, the “classic” is turkey, bacon and tomato. Er, unless that’s chicken, bacon and tomato. With maybe a poached egg in there somewhere. Or not. And some shredded lettuce. Mayo, for sure. Unless that’s mayo and honey mustard. Or just mustard.

At least we’re pretty safe saying that the bread should be toasted, aren’t we? You guessed it, some say it should not. And no-one really agrees as to whether the fillings should be hot or cold.

Aaargh! There must be as many Club Sandwich recipes as there are clubs (and pubs and bars and diners) that serve them. At least we can agree that, however it’s made, it should be a substantial meal, otherwise it’s just, well, a sandwich. And actually, all this controversy is to your advantage: it goes nicely with my ongoing theme as The Guerilla Griller that, after all, this is YOUR meal, no-one else’s. If you understand the basic principles, or just use it as a springboard for your own ideas, that is the important thing.

So, I’m going to stick my neck out and give you MY recipe, then you can run with it and do what you like. I do not claim that mine is particularly authentic, original, or that my Club Sandwich fillings are the only ones you should use. It just happens to be what I like.

So, I’m going to toast my bread, I’m going to use three slices, but I’m not going to be too specific as to what type of bread I will use, or what you should use, for that matter. It’s going to depend more on what bread I fancy eating when I’m out at the shops. It could be plain white, sourdough, granary, wholemeal – whatever. But it is going to be a “normal” sandwich type of shape for me, although there is no reason why you shouldn’t use ciabatta, panini, French sticks, subs or whatever you like.

My fillings are going to be chicken, bacon, tomato, shredded lettuce AND a poached egg. I’m more likely to use a dab of mustard than mayo, as I prefer to serve my fillings hot, and I just don’t really like mayonnaise with hot foods – but that’s just me.

One chicken breast could easily do for two of these creations, but I’ve been known to be greedy and use it all up in one.

So, ingredients for one Club Sandwich, Guerilla Griller style:

Three slices of your favourite bread, toasted and buttered (the “middle” slice on both sides).
Half a chicken breast, sliced, that has been freshly grilled, fried, roasted, poached – or some slices off a freshly roasted chicken.
Two or three rashers of the bacon that you like – smoked or not, grilled or fried as you prefer
One egg, freshly poached (you can do this ahead of time, plunge it into cold water to stop it overcooking, then reheat for a few minutes in hot water just before using)
One good tomato, sliced thinly
A handful or so of shredded lettuce
Mustard, mayo or any other condiment that you like
Salt and pepper


Truly, you can put this together however you like. I’d probably do it like this.

(Liberally season throughout with salt and pepper to your taste as you assemble.)

On the bottom slice of buttered toast, smear a little mustard, or mayo, or other condiment. Put on the shredded lettuce, the sliced tomato, and the sliced chicken. Top with the “buttered on both sides middle slice” of toast, on which you can also spread condiments, if you like.

Now put on the bacon, topped with the poached egg. I like to break the yolk now, and spread it around. Top with the final slice of toast.

You can cut it as you like and dive right in, but a posher way is to remove the crusts, and then cut the Club Sandwich into quarters, each secured with a cocktail stick (and if you can find the buffet-type ones with the little frilly paper pom-pom tops, go wild and use them – so silly, they’ll make you smile, but not if you get one stuck up your nose as you munch).

This is, as I have said, a substantial meal rather than a “light bite”, but you can make even more of it by serving with French fries/”English chips”, English potato crisps/American chips, or perhaps a salad.

As I have said, it’s your meal, so fill your sandwich with anything you like. It may not be an authentic Club Sandwich, but as no-one seems to agree as to what that actually is, who cares?

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You could go extreme, and make a Dagwood Sandwich, named after Dagwood Bumstead, the character in the Blondie comic strip who was forever constructing monumental sandwiches of many layers, full of all kinds of meats, cheeses, sausage; whatever he could cram in there. You may end up having to use a chopstick instead of a cocktail stick to secure it, and I’m not sure how wide you’d need to open your mouth to eat it…

For me, for now, I’ll stick with three slices, and two layers of filling. Hemingway referred to Paris as “The Moveable Feast,” but I think it’s also a pretty good description of the Club Sandwich.


  1. I used to work in a restaurant that also made the food for the next-door pub: these used to fly out. As did our Bookmaker's Baguette - which will be the subject of my next post...