Jul 5, 2008

Pain Bagnat (Bathed Bread)

I first learned of pain-bagnat (pahn bahn-YAH) from Jacques Pepin and Julia Child's Cooking At Home series on PBS. It's a sandwich specialty from the region of Nice, France and traditionally is created around the classic Salade Niçoise. The whole thing is "wet" or "bathed" with the juices of the ingredients and a simple vinaigrette - hence, the bagnat part of the title. After building this amazing sandwich creation, you tightly wrap the whole thing and refrigerate it overnight (or at least a few hours) with something heavy on top. This compresses the ingredients, allowing the juices to ooze out and bathe the bread. It comes together quickly, tastes fabulous and is perfect sumer fare for a party, a picnic, or when it's too hot to use the oven.

I did try to stick to the basic Salade Niçoise philosophy. Still, much depends on what you like and/or what you have on hand. It boggles my mind but some people don't like anchovies. If this is the unfortunate situation, I regretfully suggest to omit them. I grabbed a tin from my cupboard of anchovies rolled around capers so that's what I used.
Jacques and Julia's version uses slices of brie. Sounds delicious but I didn't have any brie. I did have peppers that I had roasted on the grill so those were included. Perhaps not what the folks in Nice would do, but it complimented the other ingredients and tasted great.

Here's what I used.

A simple vinaigrette made of:
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch salt

For the sandwich:
1 6 oz.canned tuna packed in oil or water, drained and crumbled
1/3 cup chopped olives (preferably black ones cured in oil, but I had a mix of kalamata and other round, brown olives)
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
6-8 anchovies, the kind wrapped around a caper, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup roasted red and yellow peppers, diced
fresh salad greensSlice the loaf in half lengthwise. On the bottom half I drizzled vinaigrette. Then I started layering the ingredients in the following order: salad greens, roasted peppers, chopped olives, tuna, sliced eggs, and finally, the chopped anchovies. I then drizzled more vinaigrette over the whole thing.

Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap. Place it on a tray then place another tray on top of the sandwich. Weigh it down with a gallon of milk, a five pound bag of flour, a hand weight from your exercise equipment stash, or, as in my case, a surgical nursing encyclopedia.

The next day, unwrap the juicy goodness of the pain bagnat and slice it up and enjoy! I will be making this again over the summer. Enjoy it with wine or ice cold beer. Have some napkins on hand and don't be shy to get messy.


Peter M said...

You can count on Jacque Pepin to even show us a terrific sandwich.

vb said...

Peter, I think I've watched every video I could get my hands on featuring Jacques. A master, a natural, and, it seems, a really nice guy.

Alexa said...

I grew up with pain bagnat and I think yours looks great. Brings back memories of many picnics in Nice and surrounding areas. Thanks!

vb said...

alexa, that is truly a compliment! hat other wonderful dishes did you bring on a picnic in Nice?

PaniniKathy said...

Wow...that is quite a meal! I can just imagine how flavorful that must have been after all the juices melded. I'll need to try this!

vb said...

paninikathy, you are right. The flavors were great. Try it.


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