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The Scuttlebutt: A Sandwich to End All Sandwiches

June  4, 2014

If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.

Today: The sandwich to end all other sandwiches -- and why you should serve it at your next party.

The Scuttlebut on Food52

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Moving from one neighborhood to another is like a breakup, an amputation, and an acid trip all in one. You wake up one morning and you have no idea where you are. The coffee shop to which you tied so much of your identity is now an hour away; you’re not sure if there are any cute bartenders in a five-block radius; and worst of all, you don’t know where to get a sandwich. 

I found myself in such a situation recently, and after indulging in a deep, month-long depression, I decided to accept my new neighborhood, despite the overwhelming abundance of strollers and the eery quiet that falls around 11 PM. So I threw a Memorial Day party, on my roof, where we would all celebrate life and vitamin D and three-day weekends. And if I couldn't find a good sandwich, I'd make one myself. 

In fact, I ended up making sandwiches for thirty; sandwiches from a shop that used to be just down the street from me. These were, and are, the greatest sandwiches in all the world. 

The Scuttlebut on Food52

The Scuttlebutt -- conceived by Caroline Fidanza and her band of geniuses at Brooklyn’s Saltie -- is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. It has seen me through first dates and hangovers and a long, cruel winter; it was the last thing I ate before packing up the final box in my big, old apartment.  

This sandwich has a cult following, of which I am a card-carrying member. We are quite a big cult. We value salt, and color, and pickled vegetables, and homemade focaccia. Our culty robes carry stains from pimentón-steeped aioli and blood-purple beets and we wear them proudly. We are forever finding bits of herbs in our hair.

You can enjoy the Scuttlebutt year-round -- with pickled whatever -- but it's best right now, when new beets and carrots are popping up, ready to be pickled, and radishes are unavoidable, imposing their crunch on everything. In the Saltie cookbook, Fidanza calls it a "free-for-all that for some can end in tears."

Homemade Focaccia on Food52

The book, by the way, is fantastic. You might think that a sandwich shop's cookbook would be a one-trick pony, but it includes M.F.K. Fisher quotes and a recipe for Beef Shin and Radish Soup, so you'd be wrong. It's currently getting top billing on my shelf, sticking its neck out in front of all the old classics. 

More: Want more information on Caroline's awesomeness? You can find that here.

In a frenzy of DIY ambition, I committed myself to making Scutlebutts, in bulk, for the party. They would require no less than six prepared components; still, I convinced myself that it was a good idea. I hope to convince you of the same. 

The Scuttlebut on Food52

Because this sandwich demands forethought, but is generous in its flexibility. Vegetables must be pickled at least a day ahead, but can loiter in your fridge for up to a month; that pimentón aioli will last for a week, perfect for all sorts of dunking and smearing. The focaccia dough needs an overnight rise in the fridge, but it is just as happy to sit for two nights instead of one. It bakes up in a sheet pan, begging to be served en masse. If you're making all this stuff, you might as well make an event out of it.

More: If your aioli breaks, never fear -- here's how to fix it. (And yes, this happened to me.)

On the day of, all you need to do is lay your dough into a baking sheet and pock it with your fingers, like you’re playing emphatic chords on a piano. Drizzle it frivolously with olive oil and salt, and bake.

Homemade Focaccia on Food52

While your focaccia fluffs up in the oven, toss together a salad of sorts: a flurry of herbs, technicolor pickles, some more briny bits, all tied together with a glug of oil. Then lay out the rest of your components (feta, eggs, aioli), and assemble towers of greatness. They do well in outdoor situations too, since the enthusiasm with which everyone eats their sandwich will inevitably lead to aioli on forearms and pickles on the ground and little bits of feta on your mouth that you’ll want to flick away carelessly before you grab another icy beer form the cooler. 

A week later, at a different party, no fewer than five people approached me, asking me to make them another sandwich. They refused to simply take a field trip to Saltie, insisted that it be homemade. 

I’ve often joked that I’ll someday publish something called “How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Cookbook.” This sandwich, were it truly mine, would be the book's crowning glory.

The Scuttlebut on Food52

The Scuttlebutt

From Saltie: A Cookbook (Chronicle, 2012)

Makes 8 to 10 very large, very messy, very life-changing sandwiches, with extra pickles and aioli

For the sandwiches:

1 batch focaccia
1/2 cup pimentón aioli
8 to 10 hard-boiled eggs
8 to 10 ounces feta
Pickled vegetable and herb salad (below)

For the pickled vegetable and herb salad:

1 bunch beets
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large red onions
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 whole star anise pods, broken up
8 whole allspice berries

8 medium carrots, peeled
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 árbol chiles

2 heaping cups fresh herbs (like parsley, mint, and dill)
A few scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
A few radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup capers
1/2 cup pitted oil-cured black olives, chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil

See the full recipe (and save and print it here).

Photos by Eric Moran

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Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



diver114 June 9, 2014
What protein/meat could one add to this sandwich?
Marian B. June 9, 2014
The hard-boiled eggs + feta in there are both solid vegetarian protein sources -- you could always double up if you wanted to!
EmilyC June 5, 2014
This sandwich looks amazing. I love this style of entertaining where instead of offering this and that, you focused in on one thing (or one thing with many parts!) and knocked it out of the park. Lucky friends you have!
Marian B. June 5, 2014
Yes! It drives you crazy the few days beforehand, but then people arrive and you have nothing else to do and you can actually enjoy your own party. I recommend it!
alasully June 5, 2014
Epic. Love it. Bummed to have missed the roof throwdown. Repeat performance?
Marian B. June 5, 2014
Yes! Indeed.
molly Y. June 4, 2014
OHMYGOD YES. i have missed this little guy SO MUCH. i love you, marian!
Marian B. June 5, 2014
ohmygosh I love you too. next time you're in the city, we shall sandwich. i'm sure the little guy misses you as well.
nightkitchen June 4, 2014
The book is adorable too, visually. I serendipitously came across it at an Anthropologie clearance sale, and was so glad as it's pretty much everything I want to eat. (I haven't made anything yet though! So thanks for the encouragement.)
Marian B. June 5, 2014
It's so great! If you're looking for something a little less ambitious, I have my eye on Alice Waters' spring onion sandwich -- it's basically this focaccia (super easy!!), homemade mayo, and sliced spring onions. Bold, right?
Hannah N. June 4, 2014
Now I am EXTRA sad to have missed your sandwich-on-the-roof-shenanigans. I don't think I can make these without you...put me down for a Part II!
Marian B. June 5, 2014
You're on the short list.
KtMcB June 4, 2014
I am into "outside the box" sandwiches. This recipe is an event!! I love how you crafted this story around crafting a sandwich. will get right on this one.
Kristen M. June 4, 2014
I'm with Kt! I'm so impressed that you tackled this for a big party and I want to make the whole thing soon, starting with the focaccia. One question: do we know why it's called a Scuttlebutt?
Marian B. June 5, 2014
Caroline Fidanza, who owns Saltie, spent the year before opening it reading Moby Dick -- lots of the sandwich names are inspired by the book, and the shop was designed with a ship's aesthetic in mind. Plus, it's almost as fun to say as it is to eat. All those t's!!
Kenzi W. June 4, 2014
My favorite part of this sandwich is that although it's a delicious beast when all components come together, I'd happily eat any one of them alone, or in another dish, any day of the week. It's one sandwich, but it's also 5 separate recipes I'm now adding to my repertoire.
Marian B. June 4, 2014
The focaccia itself changed my life. You're so right!
Katie O. June 4, 2014
So many of my favorite things! In a sandwich, my favorite of all favorite things. I am ashamed to say I have not made it to Saltie in spite of living in the city of New York, but perhaps I'll just make one of these and call it even.
Marian B. June 5, 2014
You could always do both!! You know, for "research" purposes.
mrslarkin June 4, 2014
oh this sounds delicious! (The focaccia and aioli links aren't working in the full recipe.)
Marian B. June 4, 2014
Ah, thanks mrslarkin! Tried to shorten them but I guess technology is not my strong suit today. All fixed now -- more sandwiches for everyone!
Lavender June 4, 2014
It sounds like you had a great party and the sandwich looks amazing! Hopefully you'll get used to your new neighborhood soon.
Marian B. June 4, 2014
Thank you! It's really growing on me.
ChefJune June 4, 2014
Now THAT's a sandwich. You can make it your own, Marian. Just alter or add a few extra ingredients -- you know, modify it a bit and change the name.
Kenzi W. June 4, 2014
Then she can print it in her cookbook! Brilliant.
xhille June 4, 2014
Broken link! I'd love to save the recipe otherwise!
Marian B. June 4, 2014
All fixed! Here you go: https://food52.com/recipes/28814-the-scuttlebut