Pan Bagnat: Nice on a Roll

Pan Bagnat                                                 
The first time I visited Nice in southern France, a pleasant man named Francois who was showing me some of the local markets insisted that the best, most authentic lunch in Nice was not to be found in some umbrella-decked tourist trap by the sparkling Mediterranean, but rather at a lunch stand in the middle of a nondescript park in the vortex of a traffic rotary, cars and bicycles and mopeds whipping round.
A sandwich this good just screams for a great wine, preferably a rosé from the area. 

It was a truly stupendous sandwich that we ate that day, a Pan Bagnat (pahn bahn YAHt) composed of a large round sandwich loaf split and stuffed with excellent oil-packed tuna, nicoise olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, radishes, red onion, anchovies & a few bits of torn basil. In addition, I was informed by the smiling sandwich assembler that before any fillings were added the inside of the loaf was rubbed with fresh garlic and drizzled with superb French olive oil. Essentially a salade nicoise in sandwich form, the Pan Bagnat was revelatory – robust tuna, crunchy veggies, soft spongy dough encased in a crunchy, chewy crust. And best of all the whole thing was permeated with the flavor of the sweet, mild, yummy olive oil of Provence. 
I recommend a round french roll, a sandwich-sized boule, but if you’re lacking a reliable French baker in your area, use what you’ve got. Any flavorful, chewy bread is great. This time I used a nice-sized wedge cut from an excellent ciabatta loaf from Viktor Benes. Also, definitely try to get an imported, oil-packed tuna from the Mediterranean. I used tuna from a 5-ounce can of Italian tonno, but only needed 3 ounces for one sandwich. 
If you have trouble pitting the tiny nicoise olives, try pressing the olives gently with the side of a chef’s knife against a cutting board. The pits should come free fairly easily. If this technique confounds you, use pitted kalamata olives. They’re a decent substitute. 
I recommend assembling the sandwiches in advance, refrigerating for about hour, and allowing them to return to room temperature prior to eating. This allows time for the flavors to meld well. Also, for a touch of spice, I like to drizzle into the sandwich some harissa, the spicy chili sauce from North Africa.

Pair with a glass of excellent <!– /* Font Definitions */@font-face {font-family:Arial; panose-1:2 11 6 4 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:10887 -2147483648 8 0 511 0;}@font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1791491579 18 0 131231 0;}@font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-fareast-language:JA;}@page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}rosé from the region for a perfect Mediterranean lunch. Domaine Ottall the way!   You’ll need:a sandwichloaf in the French style, or a piece of ciabatta or decent large baquette
1 peeled garlic clove
olive oil, preferablyextra virgin, preferably French, preferably Provencal
1 5-ounce can of olive-packedtuna from the Med, only 3 ounces required for the sandwich
4 slices from a roma tomato
6nicoise olives,pitted
1 hard-boiled egg,peeled and sliced
6 slices from a Persian cucumber
1 French breakfastradish, sliced lengthwise
one thin slice ofred onion, from a medium onion
3 good qualityanchovies
1 large basil leaf, torninto smaller pieces
Eating a salad in your sandwich ain’t a bad thing!
Do This:  
Split loaves and rubgarlic all through the inside of the bread. Liberally drizzle olive oil as wellon the inside of bread. Drain tuna and break up into smaller chunks. Startingwith the bottom half of the bread, layer ingredients in this order: tomato, torn basil, radishes, tuna, anchovies, cracked pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, egg, onion, olives, and cucumber.
Assemble carefully.
Cover with top halfof bread. Wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic and place on a sheet pan. Coversandwiches with another sheet pan and top with something a little heavy, suchas a couple cans of food or a book. Press for one hour and then unwrap. Cut each sandwich in halfand enjoy, with harissa on the side.
A might fine sandwich!


1 thought on “Pan Bagnat: Nice on a Roll

  1. I once saw an old jacques pepin episode where he makes a ridiculous (as in fatty) version of this sandwich that would be a stoner's dream. I'm not a stoner and even I can appreciate that. Looks delicious!

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