As a child, I was a fussy little shit. The list of things I would eat could fit on the back of a teabag, and mainly involved cheese, e numbers and an occasional slice of cucumber. These days I’ll hoof any old thing into my gob (keep it clean, guys) but back in the day it was a battle of wills to get anything past my gnashers. This meant that school dinners were an absolute no go. There was zero chance of me eating mashed potato served in scoops, or that lumpy yellow custard, which everyone suspected to be closely linked to the class’ flatulence levels the proceeding afternoon.
Resultantly, I was a firm fan of the packed lunch. Sandwich, crisps, fruit, cereal bar. Sometimes my Mum might mix things up with a packet of raisins or a Petits Filous. It was glorious. And all held together in a Thundercats lunchbox, and a garish Disney flask which always, always leaked all over your P.E. kit. Good times.
As adults we get a bum deal when it comes to packed lunches. There are no sparkly containers or yoghurts with feet (do they still make Munch Bunch?). It generally comes down to whatever you can find in the fridge which doesn’t smell of egg and can feasibly be packed into a Tupperware.
So, how do we liven it up for the over 11s? Well, I’m pretty sure the answer doesn’t lie with Pret-a-fucking-Manger and a haphazard sprinkling of rocket. Instead, I think it comes down to the construction of the humble sandwich. We need to get more creative with our loaves; simply laying one slice of Mighty White on top of another just doesn’t cut the mustard for excitement levels during the daily grind.
Some friends and I came across the recipe for this ‘Shooter’s Sandwich’ in a Sunday supplement a couple of years ago, and immediately organised an ill-advised March picnic to mark its consumption. Whilst we all subsequently agreed, with chattering teeth, that the picnic was a terrible idea, the sandwich was a resounding success. I assume it is named thus as it used to be consumed by hungry hunters, off in pursuit of a stag or something. Either that or its contents were traditionally the result of the shoot – but I’m not sure anybody in their right mind would hunt a cow...
It might seem like an overtly carnivorous option, but fear not, dear veggies, as this method can work with all sorts: a bit of halloumi and roast peppers; some goat’s cheese and caramelised onion. Or you could use fake meat stuff if you’re that way inclined. Basically you can bung all sorts in here.
N.B. The proportions of this recipe all depend on your loaf, so the larger that is, the more of everything else you’ll need.
Small round loaf, with a firm crust
2 medium sized steaks (I used rump)
Knob of butter
3 medium sized banana shallots, finely sliced
250g mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful of chopped parsley
Shot of brandy
1-2tbps Dijon mustard or horseradish sauce
Slice off the very top of your loaf to form your ‘lid’ and spread it with the horseradish/mustard. Hollow out the inside of the loaf and put to one side.
Cook your steaks to your preferred method and level of doneness. You can either keep the steaks whole, or slice. Use one steak to line the bottom of your hollowed out loaf – you don’t need to leave it to rest as the juices will all soak in.
Fry your mushrooms and shallots in the butter, until softened. Add the garlic and fry for another minute, then the brandy, allowing the alcohol to burn of for a minute or two. Lastly stir in the parsley, season, and transfer to the middle of your loaf.
Top with the second steak and replace the loaf lid. Wrap the whole thing in greaseproof paper, sandwich between two chopping boards, and weigh down with something heavy, so all of the juices soak into the bread. Leave for a good few hours, preferably overnight, then slice, as you would a meaty cake. Serve with some sort of vegetable, to make you feel slightly more virtuous.