shooter’s sandwich sunday

It began with a need to walk. Or more precisely, to uplift our souls. Souls that were sinking into mild (even major) melancholy.

Rambling was suggested. Upon, over and across the Heath.

The first attempt was cancelled. Called off due to imminent rainfall, that in turn never did materialise.

This did not bode well for our souls. They were sinking; fast.

The following week: progress.

We arrived at the Heath. We made our way across the Heath. We puzzled at the small scale of the Heath.

And then subsequently learnt that we had failed in our attempt to adequately conquer the Heath.

(Commiserations were sought at the bottom of a glass of spicy Bloody Mary from The Bull and Last.)

We took a week out to recoup…

And on a clement autumnal afternoon, beneath a dense sky that bequeathed to us the occasional spittle of rain, we found success. Through fields and mud, amidst forests and their fiery carpets, we happily rambled about (both physically and verbally) in unconscious circles around said Heath.

We’d had visions of Withnail & I style wanderings. And never more had drizzle and a clammy air felt so appropriate. (Or so appreciated.)

But to the sandwich. For it was key to this Sunday afternoon’s triumph.

Tim Hayward of the Guardian had claimed it to be the best sandwich ever. Quite an accolade. And for such adventures out in London’s version of the wilderness it was fitting that our exhaustive exploration of the Heath be the backdrop to assessing the Shooter’s Sandwich’s merits.

As darkness set in we settled ourselves out in the garden of The Spaniards Inn; a pint of cider and glass of ginger wine in hand, with piccalilli at the ready.

It was immense. The previous day’s preparation – and subsequent anticipation of consumption – was rewarded by mouthfuls of fragrant mushroom mix and peppery steak laced with hot horseradish, engulfed in a compressed loaf that had absorbed all glorious juices.

Below is the recipe, made following Hayward’s article. If you have the patience to wait overnight for this steak sandwich delicacy then I urge you to go now – make haste! – and create this breaded beauty.

Slice off the top quarter of a crusty loaf of bread (a sourdough works well) and hollow out. Choose a loaf that will snugly fit your steaks – a couple of large sirloins would be good, though I used a few medallion pieces.

Finely chop 500g of mushrooms. (I used a mix of chestnut and button.)

And finely dice 200g shallots.

Melt approx 75g butter in a large frying pan. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook fiercely – stirring frequently – until reduced in size and lost most of the liquid.

Still over the heat mix in three cloves of crushed garlic, a large handful of chopped parsley, a good splash of brandy and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Season generously with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat.

Season the steaks and place in a hot dry pan until medium cooked – erring mostly towards medium rare.

Place one layer of steak in the base of the hollowed out loaf. Spoon half of the mushroom mix over it. Place the remaining steak on top and smother with hot horseradish. Fill up with the rest of the mushroom mix. Spread mustard over the lid of the bread and place on top.

Wrap loaf in greaseproof paper and tie up with string. Place in a cool place (not a fridge) with a large chopping board and heavy weights distributed evenly on top. Leave to compress for at least 6 hours, preferably over night.

When ready to eat your Shooter’s Sandwich cut through the parchment and serve in slices like a cake, still in its wrapper.

Mmmmmmm. Now gobble.

And glug. Alcohol is a must. Bloody Mary. Cider. Wine (Ginger or Red). Even Lager. The world’s your oyster.

NB. Best preceded by a hearty stroll.

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  1. […] for walking on the Heath which was to involve that sandwich coincided with my discovery of Andrey Tarkovsky’s polaroids. Considered by many to be […]

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