Sam's Tip of the Season: Christmas toasties
As I sat down to write my winter tip of the season, my thoughts instinctively turned to Christmas dinner: great side dishes, fantastic sauces, showstopper main courses, decadent desserts… but for this piece, I felt like a change this year.
It’s my birthday not long after Christmas Day, and there are always a few leftovers hanging around from festive meals. Brunch is a big deal on my birthday. There is so much joy in using up tasty leftovers for brunch –especially inside a hot toasted sandwich. It satisfies my appetite and my conscience! It’s usually a lazy, slow start to my birthday (as much as is possible with a 9-year-old eager to give out presents!), so a low-fuss, crowd-pleasing brunch is a must. There are very few rules to the best toasted sandwiches, and there certainly isn’t a recipe, but there are guidelines. Here are my tips for the best Christmas leftover (birthday) toastie ever.
Firstly… anything goes!
Whatever your taste buds tell you they want is the right way to go. Do not be persuaded otherwise. Be bold.
Choose your bread
Use thick sliced bread, ciabatta, or panini. The bread is your carrier. It has to be up to the job.
Build it up
Learn the fine line between stuffed full and overstuffed. I’ve learnt many things from my wife; by no means the least of these is how to cram a toastie with as many fillings as possible and still be able to eat it! Keep it as even and level as possible. Build from the bottom up and start with the flattest components. Then give your toastie a good press together once it’s full. It’ll compact, hold the filling in place, and get it down to the right size to eat.
Get warmed up
If you have denser fillings, like smashed roast potatoes (oh yes, they are good in a toastie!), warm them up in a pan or microwave before popping in your bread. Otherwise, the bread will be toasted, and your fillings will be cold.
Don’t forget the glue!
A toastie needs glue. Cheese, both dairy and vegan, makes the best glue. As it melts, it sticks the bread to the filling and keeps everything in place. In a multi-filling toastie, keep your cheese thinly sliced or it will overwhelm other flavours.
Choose your sauce
A good sauce makes all the difference. Cranberry is always the go-to in a Christmas toastie but, mustard, chutney or chilli sauce are all great options.
Crispy and golden
Get the outside crisp. Spread the outside of your bread with butter, margarine, or mayonnaise to create that Insta-ready golden exterior.
You don’t need a sandwich grill; a hot frying pan works just as well. Keep giving your toastie loving squishes with a flat, rigid spatula during cooking. Cook on medium heat until crisp, golden, and hot all the way through.
Give your toastie a minute cooling time once cooked. The fillings can reach a phenomenal heat! Finally, enjoy in your favourite space with your favourite people.