Have your own nostalgia-perfect tomato sandwich today, and tomorrow. But on day three—do this instead. Chef Ignacio Mattos and the team at Estela restaurant in Manhattan have created something new—bolder, crispier, juicier, dare we say better. Adapted slightly from Estela (Artisan, 2018). —Genius Recipes
1; easily multiplied
rectangular loaf pumpernickel or other dense, seeded bread (you’ll have plenty left over)
About 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Generous 2 tablespoons softened Fromager d’Affinois, Brie, or triple-cream French cheese (with or without rind, as desired)
firm but ripe heirloom tomato, sliced into ⅛-inch-thick rounds
Lay the loaf of bread on one end and slice off the bottom crust with a bread knife. Then slice a plank, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, off the bottom (this is what you’ll use for the toast). It’s easiest to do this by standing the loaf up on end and slicing down into it to start, then laying the loaf down once you’re an inch or so in, so the slice doesn’t break, and continuing to cut the bread. (Try to get it as even as possible, but don’t stress about it too much.) Cut off the crusts from this slice. Use any excess bread crusts as breadcrumbs, to thicken sauces, or as a snack. (Alternatively: just use a regular piece of bread.)
Heat a large carbon-steel or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add about 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Add the slice of bread and toast it on both sides, pressing down on the bread with the back of a spatula so it cooks evenly, until you have a good char and most of the surface of the bread is a nice deep brown, about 5 minutes total. (It’s okay to have a few blackened bits; if the edges are burnt, just slice them off.)
Rub one side of the toast lightly with the garlic, then smear on the cheese in a light, even layer. Lay the sliced tomato on the cutting board and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and then with a small pinch of gray salt for texture. Arrange the slices on the toast, letting them drape over the sides. Give it all a light drizzle of the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Eat with a fork and knife.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.