"I haven't met a person yet that likes to make club sandwiches," said the young sandwich maker at one of Capitol Hill's popular lunch-time eateries. But, he admitted, "even though I hate making them, I still order them in restaurants."
In most restaurants, sandwiches are made in a section of the kitchen called the "cold station" or "pantry." When the pantry woman at a downtown hotel was asked why she too hated making club sandwiches, she answered, "Because they're a pain in the neck."
In season, waiters often suggest that the customers ask for home-grown tomatoes, and home-grown tomatoes can't be conveniently presliced, she noted. "It makes the waiter's tip bigger and it makes more work for me," she explained.
And the bacon is either too greasy or so crisp it keeps breaking apart, never pliable as it should be. And worst of all for the maker is a sandwich ordered on rye bread. "Ever tried to cut four points out of a slice of rye bread?" she asked. "No way."
Club sandwiches are time-consuming to make, they are always a struggle to get together and onto the plate, and inevitably an order for three club sandwiches goes into the kitchen just when the pantry person realizes there isn't enough usable bacon left to make even one more sandwich -- and the table that ordered them is in a hurry.
But everyone loves a good club sandwich, even those who hate making them. This is how the experts say to make a great club sandwich.
Toast three slices of white sandwich bread until medium brown in color but not dry. Use large, home-grown tomatoes so that one 1/4-inch thick slice covers the entire slice of bread. Romaine lettuce tastes best, but iceberg fits the sandwich better. There should be three thinly sliced pieces of lightly smoked bacon cooked so that they are still flexible, but not greasy, when cold. Mayonnaise can be homemade, but store-bought is preferred by most club sandwich lovers.
To construct the sandwich, spread the bottom slice of bread with an even layer of mayonnaise. (If too little mayonnaise is used, the sandwich will be dry. Too much mayonnaise will make the sandwich soggy. It takes a few tries to get it right.)
Arrange the lettuce, preferably in a single layer, atop the mayonnaise, and then place a large slice of tomato on the lettuce. Then add bacon.
Spread mayonnaise on the second slice of toast, on both sides. (There is no way to do it without getting mayonnaise all over your fingers!) Place the second slice of toast on top of the tomato.
Finally, add another layer of lettuce, another slice of tomato, and about 4 ounces of loosely stacked, thinly sliced cooked turkey breast. Spread the final slice of toast with mayonnaise and place it, mayonnaise side down, on the turkey.
With a long, sharp, serrated knife trim off the crusts to make the edges into a neat square. (If the sandwich isn't lined up right, or if all the toast isn't exactly the same shape -- and often it isn't -- cutting the sandwich can be a small problem.)
Once the crusts are trimmed, hold the sandwich together while you cut it diagonally into four triangles. Insert toothpicks into the pieces of the sandwich, praying the bacon doesn't crumble and fall out.
Garnish the plate with potato chips, not french fries, and a pickle, a nice dill pickle.
And that's a perfect club sandwich, problems and all.