How To Make a Pressed-Brick Sandwich
What is a Pressed Brick Sandwich?
My daughter's friend Taylor introduced me to brick sandwiches. When Taylor called to tell me he was bringing me a brick sandwich that he made the day before, I did not have high expectations. How good could a day old sandwich be? And what was this about a brick? I didn't get it.
Taylor showed up with thin slices of a densely compact sandwich, layered with a variety of Italian antipasto ingredients. One bite and I was hooked. Checking around the internet I discovered brick-pressed sandwiches are a thing that somehow I had missed. Until now.
Preparing the Bread
A brick sandwich begins with a hollowed out loaf of ciabatta bread and is filled with thin layers of savory ingredients. The filled sandwich is then pressed under a brick for several hours or overnight to densely pack the ingredients together.
You start with a loaf of ciabatta bread. Slice the bread in half lengthwise so you have a top and a bottom piece of bread. Flip the halves over so that the inside of the bread is showing. Using your fingers pull out as much of the soft bread as you can. Save the crumbs to make homemade breadcrumbs.
Creating a Moisture Barrior
Spread the inside of each bread half with a soft cheese such as goat cheese, brie or cream cheese. The goal is to create a moisture barrior between the bread and the rest of the ingredients so that the bread does not get mushy. Do a good job and really cover the bread with the cheese.
Add Layers and a Little Moisture
Make 1/4 cup of a vinaigrette salad dressing or use a purchased vinaigrette. Begin layering the sandwich with thin slices of whatever strikes your fancy: salami, prosciutto, chicken, turkey, ham, marinated artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, roasted tomatoes, pesto, tapenade, pickles, assorted cheese, roasted red peppers, pate or fresh herbs. You get the idea; anything goes. Just keep the slices thin.
Layer on about a third of the ingredients and then sprinkle on half of the vinaigrette. Layer on another third of the ingredients and then sprinkle on the last of the vinaigrette.
Add the final third of the ingredients and then top with the remaining half of the ciabatta bread spread with cheese.
Wrap the entire sandwich tightly with plastic wrap. These sandwiches are dense and heavy. The last one I made was 3 1/2 pounds!
Place in the refrigerator with something heavy on top. A heavy brick, a rock, a cast-iron pan, or a heavy brick and a rock inside a cast-iron pan. The goal is to press all of the ingredients together, so the heavier the better. Press the sandwich at least 4 hours or better yet, overnight.
When you are ready to serve, unwrap the sandwich and place toothpicks over the top of the sandwich. I use 28 toothpicks in a pattern of 4 rows of 7, with about 1 1/2 " between each toothpick. Slice the sandwiches in strips between the toothpicks, resulting in 28 1 1/2" square sandwich pieces.
The Perfect Sandwich for Many Occasions
Serve these sandwiches as appetizers or picnic fare, bring them to work for a special brown-bagged lunch or take them on a hike for some densely packed energy. Kept in the refrigerator these sandwiches will keep for three or four days.
Pressed-Brick Sandwich Recipes
Once you have the pressed-brick sandwich technique you don't really need a recipe, but if you want a recipe to get started here is my recipes for an Italian Brick Sandwich.