Sandwich Party: The St. Paul + S’mores
The Sandwich Party has become a semi-regular occurrence at my place. Last week, we invented the Mr. Manager, a sandwich cobbled together from the cheapest of the cheap foods at Kroger. Microwaveable bacon, barbecue and fried chicken came back from the brink of expiry to join forces with cheese and a fried egg on leftover sesame-seed buns. Then there was beer, “Da Ali G Show” and a late-night trip to IHOP.
The same crew was eager to repeat last week’s success, but I wasn’t willing to let the whims of a grocery store manager dictate our sandwich experience this time. I wanted something from the major leagues of American sandwich artistry. And when I’m looking for such a high-caliber meal, I turn to the great documentary “Sandwiches That You Will Like.”
Last night, I settled on the St. Paul, an egg foo young patty on white bread. It’s a sandwich shrouded in mystery: it comes from St. Louis, a ten-hour drive north of the city that is its namesake, and the identity of its inventor is matter of myth and (boring) legend. Undeterred, I printed out this recipe for an idea of the ingredients and made a run on the local grocery.
You can play this by the book if you really want, but essentially you’re making an omelet and putting it on bread. Both of these are pretty personal experiences, so you can more or less ignore the instructions in the recipe. First, we chopped up the onions and celery, then tossed them and the bean sprouts into some hot oil to cook. Meanwhile, we were cracking eggs into a bowl and whisking them up. After they’d sizzled for a while, we strained the oil from the veggies as best we could and set them out. The recipe I linked to says to let them cool for a few minutes, but who cares how hot your veggies are when they go into the eggs? We only waited long enough to be fairly certain they wouldn’t cook the egg on their own. Then we dumped in the soy sauce-corn starch mixture, sesame oil, and two pouches of diced ham.
Then it was time to ladle the soupy mixture into the pan of hot oil. I used a lot of oil to try to get a deep-fried feel out of the patties. My compatriots were skeptical of the idea, which I literally could not comprehend, but this choice is up to you – the recipe says to use “a small amount.” I let it cook a while, then half-flipped the patty to seal the fillings inside. After flipping it a few more times to get an even browning around the outside, I’d move it onto a plate and drop in the next glob of liquid egg foo young.
Once the patties were all cooked, assembling it was fairly simple. Spread some mayo generously on white bread (one partygoer had never tasted mayonnaise!) and slap on a piece of lettuce, some fresh tomato slices and some pickles (the more, the merrier). And enjoy. Yes, enjoy like crazy, because this sandwich is a tour-de-force. The exterior is basic – I can’t remember the last time I used white bread, but I was probably ten years old and feeding ducks with it – but it’s a simple, nostalgic contrast to the hustle-bustle going on in that patty.
Speaking of nostalgia, eating it took me back to the days when even a PB&J would leave your hands covered in sticky juices. Even a modest patty makes for a monster of a sandwich. The mayo does a decent job keeping the bread from getting soggy, but you’ll still have eggy tomato juice on your arms afterward – keep some heavy-duty paper towels handy. Just look at the concentration on these partygoers’ faces and you’ll realize that for a brief, shining moment, eating a St. Paul is your full-time job.
The sandwiching fun didn’t end there. A friend of mine had dug up a recipe for one of the more amazing ideas I’ve ever seen – “King’s Hawaiian S’mores.” These are the s’mores you loved from childhood campouts, but with the brilliant substitution of King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls for the tired old graham cracker. Purists may scoff, but they’re probably the same people that think Goldeneye 64 was a great game. Goldeneye 64 was not a great game. It was an impossible mess that you look back on fondly because you didn’t know better. And like Goldeneye 64, graham cracker s’mores fall apart at the first bite, getting impossible-to-clean-off, chocolatey marshmallow goo all over your face and hands. The sweet rolls, in contrast, keep the gooey innards warm and away from your skin. The English language needs a new word to describe how simultaneously clever and tasty these were – cleasty?
Overall, last night’s spread was crazy delicious – we’re talking on the level of Mr. Pibb + Red Vines. Not too difficult to throw together, either, and it left us with a Tupperware container’s worth of leftover St. Paul mix. With the bulk of the work already done, it makes for a killer breakfast sandwich you can make in a flash the next morning. Definitely a recipe worth making again and again. Not to mention the wealth of ingredients that pair well with eggs, making it ripe for spin-off sandwiches. I’m looking forward to replacing the ham with bacon, sprinkling the mix with shredded cheese or putting one of these patties on top of a hamburger.
Wait – I think my imagination had a heart attack.
Many of these photos were taken by my good friend Connie. Way to go!