Saturday, June 9, 2012

Road Trip Recipe 5: French Picnic Baguettes

These sandwiches remind me of quintessential picnics in France as a kid, and of generally glorious times spent running around Provence with French friends that I could barely understand.

While they cannot be pre-made for any significant amount of time, due to the resulting sogginess, they can be prepared in parts, stored separately, & then quickly assembled when it's time to eat. I much prefer having to deal with some light assembly over eating old, soggy food. Which is why I included them on my healthy Road Trip Menu for the later part of our trip, for which most of the pre-made food from home wouldn't last. Luckily, after our first day of driving, we had a few nights at a really nice hotel before continuing our Road Trip, so I had a chance to stock up on groceries, do some light cooking (our room had a full kitchen), and prepare new meals for the remainder of the trip. While having a kitchen made it easier, it was in no way necessary - I could have easily done the same thing at a camp site.

Quick-to-Assemble Meals:
French Picnic Baguettes
       - Ham & Cheese
       - Brie, Walnut & Prosciutto
       - Steak & Goat Cheese
Homemade Egg Salad and Arugula Wraps

Just as the previous recipes in my Road Trip Menu series, these can be varied a lot, by what you put in them. All of them can also be made using flatbread wraps instead of baguette. These are three of the most popular ways I prepare mine:


French Picnic Baguettes: Ham & Cheese

This classic is the one sandwich of these three that can stand a bit of time in the cooler, fully assembled and just waiting to be eaten, without going soggy right away. However, they are best when assembled right before eating, so pack each component separately, and then assemble the sandwiches on the spot.


1 long French baguette, cut in quarters and split, OR 4 small, single-serve baguettes, split
1/2 pound French ham, sometimes sold as jambon de Paris, sliced paper-thin
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
6 oz Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced

8 cornichons, thinly sliced lengthwise (optional)


1. Spread the mustard evenly over 1, or both cuts of the baguette (traditionally butter is used on 1, mustard on 1, but I usually do mustard on both).
2. Layer the ham slices on the bottom baguette half, followed by the cheese. Top with the cornichons, if using.
3. Press sandwich together, and enjoy!


French Picnic Baguette: Brie, Walnut & Prosciutto

This is a delicious combination, with variations mentioned below.


1 long French baguette, cut in quarters and split, OR 4 small, single-serve baguettes, split
Brie Cheese
1 pear
1/2 pound Prosciutto
1/4 cup Walnuts (toasted)
Extra-virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

1. Drizzle baguette with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
2. Spread a layer of cheese over baguette, and top with prosciutto.
3. Slice the pear very thinly, and fan over the prosciutto. Sprinkle with walnuts.
4. Enjoy!

These are also very nice topped with arugula (I know, I know, I seem to put arugula on everything). Also, the prosciutto can be omitted, and honey can be used as a spread instead of the olive oil and vinegar mixture, for a very tasty Brie sandwich.


French Picnic Baguettes: Steak & Goat Cheese

I usually make these either using leftovers from grilling the night before, OR I grill the meat while I grill something else for dinner the night before, then cool and slice it right away. This time, since I made these in my hotel room kitchen, I seared the steak instead. You can use many different cuts of beef, and in a pinch you can even avoid cooking altogether, and use roast beef from the deli counter instead, although it really tastes the best with freshly grilled steak.


1 long French baguette, cut in quarters and split, OR 4 small, single-serve baguettes, split
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of water
1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound grilled beef steak, of desired cut, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
5 oz fresh goat cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup grainy Dijon mustard
2 bunches arugula, stems trimmed


1. Slice steak thinly, against the grain, and set aside.  
2. Melt butter with olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and caramelize, adding water in small amounts as needed. The onions are ready when they are a deep, golden brown, very soft, and sweet. For our Road Trip I made these the day before, and they store well when refrigerated.
3. Dividing evenly, spread top halves of bread with cheese, and bottom half with mustard. Add steak, onion, and arugula. Season to taste if needed.
4. Enjoy!

As with the other two sandwiches, I packed all the components separately in the cooler, and then assembled the sandwiches right before lunch. 

1 comment:

  1. That brie, walnut and prosciutto mixture sounds divine....