Pan Bagna

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Pan Bagna

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Published prior to 2008

This classic stuffed sandwich from the Mediterranean is much like an American sandwich of the same sort. Here, we call this sublime mixture of meat and vegetables and/or cheese on oil-doused crusty bread a submarine (Massachusetts), hoagie (New Jersey), grinder (Connecticut), hero (New York), Italian (Maine), or muffuletta (New Orleans). In France, it's pan bagnat; and in Italy, pan bagna (literally, "bathed bread.")

This recipe for pan bagna dispenses with the cheese, and substitutes anchovies for meat, but the result is not at all lacking in taste; the ingredients blend like a well-tuned orchestra, the flavor of none standing out above the others. If you're not an anchovy fan, don't be turned off just yet; Jane Korhonen, one of our catalogue customer representatives, ate a nice helping of this sandwich and enjoyed it immensely, only later discovering it contained anchovies -- "And I don't even like anchovies!"

One large (1-pound) round or two 1/2-pound baguette-shaped loaves of crusty bread*
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium red or Vidalia onion, sliced paper-thin
2 small (1.75-ounce) tins anchovies
2 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick, seeded and drained
2/3 cup pitted, chopped black (ripe) olives
2/3 cup pitted, chopped green olives
1 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers in oil**
freshly ground black pepper

Slice the bread in half to make a top and bottom half. Brush the cut side of each piece with the olive oil.

On the bottom half, layer the onion slices, anchovies and tomato slices. In a small bowl, mix the green and black olives together, then spread atop tomatoes on bread. Place red peppers over all, and sprinkle with black pepper to taste. Cover with top half of bread.

Wrap sandwich very tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil. Set it aside for 1 or up to 4 hours or so, for the flavors to marry and the bread to absorb the oil and juices. Unwrap and cut in sandwich-sized slices or wedges to serve. Serves 6 to 8.

*I like to use a very slack Hearth Bread dough (see the Hearth Bread listed on our recipe archive or use your favorite recipe) for this sandwich. A slack dough (i.e., one which doesn't have quite as much flour, and is quite sticky) will spread outwards as it rises, rather than up. The resulting loaf is flatter, and is very nice for sandwiches, sporting more crust and more surface area than the usual loaf. I also like to make a sponge the night before I make the bread; combine all ingredients except half the flour, cover, and let this batter-like dough bubble all night. Add remainder of the flour in the morning, and proceed as usual. I feel this added step gives the final loaf more flavor, almost a sourdough-type flavor.

**You can roast your own red or green peppers quite easily, if you can't find them in the store, or don't want to pay the going rate. Place whole peppers on a baking sheet under a broiler. Broil, turning frequently, until peppers are black all over. Place hot peppers in a brown paper bag, and place bag in the sink (peppers will let out their juice as they cool). When peppers are cool enough to handle, open them up, remove the seeds, and peel the skin off (it'll slip off quite easily). Sprinkle peppers with olive oil and store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition information per serving (1/8 of recipe, 178 g): 365 cal, 24 g fat, 9 g protein, 24 g complex carbohydrates, 4 g sugar, 3 g dietary fiber, 4 mg cholesterol, 844 mg sodium, 235 mg potassium, 43 mg vitamin C, 3 mg iron, 93 mg calcium, 91 mg phosphorus.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 5, May-June 1992 issue.