While I tend to keep these thoughts off of the blog (mainly because Michael doesn’t want this to turn into a let’s-bash-celebrity-chefs snarkfest, a request I can understand), when around friends or coworkers I am known for being a bit…opinionated about various food personalities. My ire is usually only aimed at a select few who will go unnamed here, but when you are generously gifted a cookbook for the holidays and the giver prefaces you opening it with “I don’t know if you like this person” it’s a sign that you can be rather intense about said opinions.
The preface was completely unnecessary, of course, because when I saw it was a copy of Tom Colicchio’s ‘wichcraft I was positively elated. I’ve always wanted to try out his sandwich shop (there are locations all over Manhattan and he’s expanded to other cities too), but in all of our weekend travels around the city I never seemed to be near one when I was searching for something to eat. Well, it’s time to make up for lost time and lost sandwiches, and what better way to dive in than to make his take on a classic roast beef?
The great thing about this book is the mix of unique and traditional recipes, often which can be found in a single sandwich. His roast beef with grilled red onions and radish slaw is a perfect example of this: he has you prepare the beef simply and fairly traditionally, and then swings right with some unconventional takes on sandwich toppings, and you pick up a few new techniques or new-to-you flavor combinations along the way. The grilled red onions in particular were an unexpected treat: first rubbed with oil and then charred and slightly cooked on a grill pan, they are then transferred to a bowl and tossed with curry powder, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. They become a lovely little condiment that can be either used immediately or stored for up to a week, and they make a grand and very fast alternative to caramelized onions if you’re making burgers during the week. The radish slaw–a combination of daikon and horseradish, topped with thinly sliced red radishes–provides a good amount of bite and the right amount of crunch and freshness to the sandwich so that you don’t feel like you’re eating a big and bread-y meat bomb.
He also has you whip up some homemade pepper mayo to slather onto the bottom half of the roll, and all I will say to that is this: if all mayo tasted like homemade mayo, I’d like it a lot, lot more than I do now, which is probably for the best. This may have been an amazing sandwich, but it’s only the start, because I have so many pages earmarked to try over the next few months.