Take a moment and think about the last sandwich you made.
Was it good? Probably. But was it great?
In Tyler Kord's notes for how to use his sandwich cookbook, A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches (Clarkson Potter, 2016), he says something that seems to anchor his perspective on cooking, and confirms why everyone would benefit from his guidance on making sandwiches: "I don't think there are any two ingredients that can't go together."
He means it. Lychee and broccoli in a sandwich? The chef mashes up these and other ingredients to make many unexpected sandwiches in his new book. They are wild but excellent combinations.
And you don't need to rush to one of his No. 7 Sub shops in New York City to try what he has created. As he notes in the book, when you follow a recipe, it's like someone else is cooking in your kitchen. Kord is your personal sandwich chef, and he's looking out for you. In a recipe for a chorizo and egg sandwich, he instructs you to tuck in the corners of Swiss cheese slices so they don't melt and drip off the English muffin edges, creating a mess on your baking sheet.
A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches will make the humble home cook's sandwich game so much better. Composing a sandwich according to Kord's recipes will teach you how to build a better one. You'll realize his include an element of crunch, salt, sweet, fat, acid and a sauce to tie it all together — even before you get to his final chapter on sandwich construction theory. You'll get in a sandwich rhythm and better understand the varied textures required to take a sandwich from good to great.
Kord kicks off the book with roast beef, but there's no vegetable he won't feature. He tests your love of onions with one sandwich cradling roasted onions, pickled red onions, fried shallots and scallions. More vegetables in sandwiches means more fun, and he has his favorites (broccoli).
The recipes are not especially difficult, but they involve more work than most of us may be used to for a sandwich. Some of the subrecipes have subrecipes. Some people may get super upset about it, but he warned you in the title. That said, you don't necessarily have to make your own mayonnaise or roast a chicken. Pop open that Hellman's jar in the fridge and pick up a rotisserie chicken on your way home. Go ahead and try his recipes for sort-of Mexican chorizo and Canadian bacon or don't. Kord's cool with it, and you should be, too.
This book has convinced me that I should always have a jar of something good in the fridge, and not just for the thrill of having a container labeled Special Sauce. With that already done, I'm one step closer to better sandwiches all the time.
Reading and laughing through the book, it reminded me of the first time I recall doctoring up a sandwich. I'd stack skinny fast-food fries in a chicken sandwich, between the bun and the mayo-dipped lettuce. My habit for tucking salty fries into a sandwich made me appreciate Kord's use of BBQ potato chips.The whimsical recipe writing in this cookbook makes it unlike any I've come across lately. The illustrations and photos match the playful, don't-take-me-seriously tone. Throughout, there are notes from Ten Speed editor Francis Lam, including ongoing banter about other possible titles for the book.Kord touches on British colonialism, Phil Collins and factory farming in the headnotes, and he lets you know how he feels about the price of sandwiches and the ethics of eating meat and seafood. (But there is no holier-than-thou attitude here about what you eat.) He rants about TV chefs and personalities who proudly declare they only work with the best and freshest ingredients. What about everything else? he asks. Bring him your bruised vegetables, your ugly fruit, and Kord would much rather teach you how to make it all taste good.
Ileana Morales Valentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.