National sandwich month (USA) was in August, but I’m aiming for pear season, so I feel right on queue.
When I was in high school, occasionally I’d make my dad a sandwich on the weekends. He liked it because I made them “deluxe,” which meant I’d add a tomato slice, some onion and cheese to his lunch meat along with slathered on condiments. This kept it moist and a cut above a bread and meat sandwich, which is ironically what he gets for lunch now that he’s in a care facility for dementia. They keep his “finger food” extra plain for several reasons. I’m glad he’s not too aware of his food.
Normally I’m not big on sandwiches (too much bread!), but I recently had one while out and about, and I thought I’d put my own spin on it. Baked chicken, melty brie, pear slices and peppery arugula. A happy marriage of flavors. If you’re bread adverse, though, the rest of the sandwich ingredients make for a terrific salad.
You don’t have to go crazy and raise your own chickens, grow your own pear trees, farm your own lettuce and bake your own bread to have a quality sandwich. After all, you want to eat today, right? But, you can have quality chicken, instead of sodium- and preservative-heavy cold cuts. Why not bake some bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts? That way you know the source. While you’re at it, make a few extra breasts for another meal.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try baking Annabel Langbein’s Turkish bread, featured several weeks ago on my blog. I chose store-bought ciabatta this time around, which while good, it was a bit chewy. The softer, Turkish Bread would have been a better choice. Plus, the oven was already on for the chicken. Shoulda, woulda, coulda… didn’t.
Instead of traditional mustard (too strong) and mayonnaise (too much fat), I used my vinaigrette for moistening the bread. It blends well with the chicken, pear and arugula and holds up well to the brie. But use what you like and what you think will work well. There are no hard and fast rules with sandwiches.
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Feeling Fancy Sandwich (Baked Chicken, brie, pears and arugula)
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180C)
- Season chicken breasts and bake for approximately 45-60 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle
- Separate the breast meat from the bone and remove skin. Slice or tear by hand large chicken pieces
- Slice in half , core and then quarter pears. Continue to slice into thin wedges.
- Slice brie cheese into approximately quarter-inch strips
- Slice bread loaf in half and toast in the broiler or on a grill. (watch it like a hawk so it doesn’t burn!) Brush top and bottom of loaf with vinaigrette.
- Toss arugula with a small amount of vinaigrette and place on the bottom of the bread loaf
- Arrange chicken pieces on top of arugula. Place pear slices on top of the chicken. Finally, place Brie slices on top of the pears
- Briefly place back in oven to let Brie slightly melt
- Place the top of the loaf back on to the sandwich and cut into individual servings. Alternatively, you can keep this open face if you prefer less bread. Or, as mentioned above, skip the bread and serve as a salad