As this is my first proper article, I thought I'd jump right in at the deep end, and cover a topic that of supreme importance in this day and age. How to make a proper crisp sandwich.
Some of you may not even know what a crisp sandwich is, and that is a truly sad thing in this enlightened era we live in. I did a little search on the web, and found only one site (here) that even mentioned it, and that site was pretty naff (sorry Wesley).
The crisp sandwich is a simple concept, but often the simplest ideas are the most ground breaking. It is a sandwich with a filling of crisps (potato chips to American readers). Now just putting crisps between two slices of bread is not the whole story.
First, let's trace back through the history of the crisp sandwich.
The inventor of the crisp sandwich has never been proven beyond doubt. The potato chip as you well know, was invented by Sir Crispen Walker in the Middle Neolithic Victorian Renaissance period of 1784. Although this amazing invention did not reach it's full potential until 1827, when a bright young Oxford Chemistry drop out, Harvey B. Fernonion, discovered the reaction of sodium chloride (salt) and vinegar and accidentally dropped his lunch (crisps) in the experiment. He'd inadvertently stumbled across the perfect sandwich filling and didn't yet know it.
Archaeologists, historians and Time Team have puzzled over who may have made the discovery of the crisp sandwich. The current popular theory is that the Romans invented it in 1885. Painstaking excavations under sofa cushions have brought startling evidence, of fossilised examples of primitive crisp sandwiches dating back dozens of years.
The art to this culinary masterwork has been passed down through the generations, to be honed to perfection in the modern sandwich. Now I shall pass it to you, dear reader(s).
|Thankfully these are few and commonly available and are as follows:
- Salt & Vinegar flavoured crisps: 1 packet (25g)
- Fresh bread: two thick slices (>1cm each)
- Butter or margarine
Seems simple enough, but as with the creation of any masterpiece of food preparation, having the highest quality of ingredients is the key to success.
The crisps should be of good quality, with good size, and crispness. Soggy crisps are unacceptable. Also the flavour should be strong, but not overpowering. The flavour of the crisps will be reduced in the sandwich.
I have suggested salt & vinegar flavoured crisps, as these are my personal favourate, and after doing a poll of fellow crisp sandwich lovers, the general consensus seems to be that this is the best flavour for sandwiches. Although this doesn't mean that other flavours cannot be used. The beauty of the crisp sandwich is the huge variety of flavours and textures of crisp available.
The bread should be as fresh as possible. Not pre-sliced. The saying may go ?the best thing since sliced bread?, but pre-sliced bread is not the best. It is dry and barely fit to feed to the birds. No, the bread should be fresh and crusty. In fact that goes for any sandwich. This is also a proper sandwich, and so I'd recommend white bread cut to at least one centimetre in thickness. This is not for a cocktail party after all.
Lastly, the butter. My own preference is for Flora margarine due to ease of spreading and the creamy taste, but anything suitable for bread usage is fine.
|Take your two slices of bread and butter them with your chosen spread. A nice even coverage is desired, applied with the care of a master builder coating a house brick with mortar, with enough spread to fill the air pockets in the surface of the bread slice. Try not to use excess, as it will reduce the crispness of the filling.
Open the packet of crisps, and distribute about half of them evenly across one slice of bread, insuring maximum coverage. Remember this is art we are creating. Opening the bag should be done as late as possible to maintain maximum crispness. Crispness is the key.
Take the second slice of bread and place it carefully on top on the crisp covered layer, butter side down. Now press the sandwich down firmly enough for crisps to crack. This also serves to cement the sandwich together.
Do not cut the sandwich in half, or cut the crust off the bread. Proper sandwiches should stretch the jaw to its physical limits.
Now you are ready to eat and enjoy. You'll also have a few lose crisps to finish off, or even make a second sandwich with. It doesn't get much better than that.
For the purposes of this article I thought I'd do some taste testing to find the daddy of crisps. It saves a lot of trial and error on your part if I have done some of the legwork for you.
In the past I have always considered Walkers to be the highest quality crisp available in the UK. Their foil bags have guaranteed that the flavour and the crispness has been top notch. But they are also among the more expensive crisps. So how do the supermarket own brands stand up to the Walkers crisp? The answer is surprisingly well.
The crisps (all salt & vinegar flavour) I have tested are:
Walkers 25g (multipack)
Tesco Select 25g (multipack)
Sainsbury's Be Good To Yourself 25g (multipack)
Somerfield 25g (multipack)
Golden Wonder 34.5g (this was added later)
The discos were thrown in as a wildcard really, but worked quite well. I rated the crisps out of 5 for the following attributes: crispness, flavour, crisp size, and value, then gave an overall score.
The first thing to notice was that all the packs used foil lined bags. Walkers have used foil bags for a while now, but it's only more recently that supermarket brands seem to have adopted them. We'll see if this has brought the cheap crisps up to the level of Walkers.
Walkers 25g (Multipack)
|I had expectations that Walkers would walk away with the title in this review (very weak pun intended). The crisps are always nice and large, some almost taking two bites to eat, unless you cram them in like me. They are also superbly crisp. The flavour is very mellow, and actually quite weak, which is a little surprising. When it came to the sandwich, the flavour was almost lost. I was quite disappointed. But overall, a good crisp. They are quite a bit more expensive, but the high quality does make up for it.|
Summary - Very high quality crisp, with a nice flavour, but that's a bit weak for sandwiches.
Sainsburys Be Good To Yourself 25g (Multipack)
|The 'Be Good to Yourself' range is a low fat range of products. Now if you're eating crisp sandwiches then you might not be too concerned about the fat content of the crisps. What we want is a high quality crisp. So, what did we get? Well, a surprisingly nice crisp.
The crisps were in fact massive. They even put the Walkers crisps to shame. They were easily on a par for crispness with the Walkers too. But the Achilles heel was the flavour. This was almost non-existent. I could have been eating plain unsalted crisps. This was even worse in the sandwich. I suppose this is good if you don't like over powering flavours. A shame really, as they otherwise have a great crisp.
Summary - A good quality crisp, let down by weak flavour. Good out of the sandwich though.
Tesco Select 25g (Multipack)
|Tesco Select products are supposed to be their high quality range of products, and they aren't actually lying when it comes to this crisp. The size of the crisps was average, but they had great crispness, but the star of the show is the flavour. This was a flavour I could finally taste in the sandwich. A little strong maybe for bare eating, but perfect for the sarny. I was impressed, and at 79p for a 6 pack, a bargain.|
Summary - A great crisp. Highly recommended.
Somerfield 25g (Multipack)
|This crisp had a lot of work to do after the Tesco crisp, and to be fair it didn't stand much of a chance. The size of the crisps was about the same as the Tesco crisps, but the flavour was weaker. About the same as the Walkers crisp. They were nicely crisp though. The inventor of the foil bag deserves a Nobel Prize for cleverness. A cheap crisp, and good enough for a sandwich, but not quite the best.|
Summary - Not bad, but let down by weak flavour.
|This was my wildcard crisp. I thought I'd throw it in as an experiment. So how did it do? Well, as for crispness, it's different to normal crisps. More like a flattened Hula Hoop with a textured surface. But that wasn't any detriment. The flavour was the strongest in the test. Quite strong for bare crisp eating, but spot on for the sandwich. The size was quite small, but regular, and actually worked very well for giving even coverage of the bread. Not being from a multipack, the crisps were more expensive, but if you can source them in multipacks, then I'm sure they would be much cheaper. All in all, a near perfect sandwich crisp.|
Summary - A near perfect sandwich crisp.
Golden Wonder 34.5g
|This was a late addition to my round up. Golden Wonder crisps were a favourite from my childhood, but seem to be less commonly available now. Which is a great shame as they are a superb sandwich crisp. Very strong flavour, that is perfect for this purpose. Good crisp chips, of moderate size. These possibly even edge out the Tesco Select for quality. I was very impressed. Still not quite as good as Discos, but there isn't a better 'classic' crisp for sandwich making than the Golden Wonder crisp in my opinion..|
Summary - Nearly the best crisp, but unfortunately can be difficult to get hold of.
The winner of the sandwich crisp contest has to be Discos. I only threw them in as an alternative crisp, but they turned out to be nearly perfect. This makes me wonder if there are any other great sandwich crisps out there waiting to be discovered. Please e-mail me if you know of any good ones. Also highly recommended are Golden Wonder (if you can get them) and Tesco Select. They had great flavour that was strong enough not to be lost in the sandwich. Walkers are also a good crisp, and in my opinion still the best to eat straight out the bag, as they have a more mellow flavour.