Secret to making the perfect sandwich

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
What’s the secret to a great sandwich? It should have a mix of hot, cold, sweet, sour, crunchy and soft, says chef Max Halley.

Halley started his career working in Michelin Star restaurants but has become a legend on the London food scene with his Max’s Sandwich Shop in North London.

Its success has spawned a TV show and three books, the most recent Max's World Of Sandwiches, dedicated to the art of stuffing things between bread.

The core contrasts of hot, cold, sweet, sour, crunchy and soft is where the “deliciousness is to be found,” Halley tells Nine to Noon.

The crunch

“All of the sandwiches in my restaurant have had a deep-fried element, we live in a sandwich world where people seem to claim that lettuce is crunchy, and to me, that is an abomination. Lettuce is fresh and crisps are crunchy.”

Crunch is the element missing from most sandwiches, he says. So how to you bring the crunch?

“Croutons...we have a sandwich that has spring rolls in it. The truth is, if it's been deep-fried it is likely to provide excellent crunch.”

Why Max eschews the cheese

“I am a fan of melted cheese in a sandwich. What I am not a fan of is big slabs of cold cheese, which to me personally is just like putting candle wax in a sandwich.”

Don't spare the condiments

“Blending them up and mixing them into mayonnaise is the secret to putting most things in a sandwich,” he says.

“If you try spreading mustard on a piece of toast evenly you will quickly see how much easier it would be were you to mix that mustard into mayonnaise and then spread it on your bread.”

The secret to a great bacon sandwich

“Cook your bacon slowly so that lots of fat renders out of it. And then mix that fat into mayonnaise and have it in your sandwich."

He even mixes gravy with mayonnaise at his shop, he says.

“All the meats that we put in sandwiches at my sandwich shop are braised meats, meats cooked in liquid fundamentally, meats that end up with gravy.

“The night before I opened my sandwich shop I braised this beef, and in the morning I was taking the beef out of the braising liquid to put it into a tub in order to use it in sandwiches later.

"And I was just looking at this vast tub of gravy and thinking, how can I put that into a sandwich without making it fall apart? and I realised that all I had to do was boil the cooking liquid down and then mix it into mayonnaise - and gravy mayonnaise was born.”

What bread is best?

“Rather than using slices of bread. I think pieces of bread, or buns or little ciabatta is the way to go if you have as liberal an attitude to mayonnaise as I do.”

Marmite and vegemite?

Halley’s a big fan of the yeasty, salty spreads.

“One of the things that my mum used to make for me when I was little was a cucumber sandwiches with Marmite.

“Cucumber and Marmite sandwiches are absolutely fantastic.

"And I think that's often one of the nice things to do is to make a completely normal sandwich you already make and think about one (rogue) thing that you could put in there.”