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America's Test Kitchen Pan Bagnat (Ep 2114)

Pan Bagnat


WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: Our version of pan bagnat, a classic Provençal sandwich that shares many of the same ingredients as salade niçoise, features a crusty baguette packed with high-quality jarred tuna, olives, capers, tomatoes, hard-cooked eggs, fresh herbs, and a mustardy vinaigrette. We used a large baguette, which offered enough surface area to accommodate the filling, and removed the inner crumb from the bottom half of the loaf to create a trough that provided more space. Processing the olives, capers, anchovies, and herbs into a coarse “salad” helped those components hold together, and applying the salad in two layers in the sandwich distributed its assertive flavors. To control the bread’s moisture absorption, we brushed the cut surfaces with olive oil, which helped waterproof it. Stirring the vinaigrette into the olive salad thickened the dressing so that it didn’t oversaturate the crumb, and we also thoroughly drained the tuna and tomato slices to remove much of their liquid. Tightly wrapping the sandwich halves with plastic wrap and pressing them for at least an hour under a heavy Dutch oven tamped down the filling so that the whole package was compact enough to bite through.

1 vine-ripened tomato, cored and sliced thin

1 small red onion, sliced thin

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon table salt

1 large baguette, sliced horizontally

¾ cup niçoise olives, pitted

½ cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed

2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves

3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 (6½ ounce) jars olive oil-packed tuna, drained

3 hard-cooked eggs, sliced thin

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Lay tomato slices on paper towel–lined plate and set aside. Place onion, vinegar, garlic, and salt in bowl and toss to combine. Using your hands or metal spoon, remove inner crumb from baguette bottom to create trough, leaving ¼-inch border on sides and bottom. Place baguette halves cut side up on baking sheet and bake until very lightly toasted, 5 minutes.
  2. Pulse olives, parsley, capers, marjoram, and anchovies in food processor until coarsely but evenly chopped, 10 to 12 pulses. Transfer olive mixture to bowl with onion mixture. Add ¼ cup oil, mustard, and pepper and toss to combine.
  3. Brush inside of each baguette half with 1 tablespoon oil. Place two-thirds of olive mixture in hollow of baguette bottom and spread evenly. Distribute tuna evenly over olive mixture and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Shingle tomato slices over tuna. Shingle egg slices over tomato. Top eggs with remaining olive mixture and cap with baguette top (sandwich will be very full).
  4. Press gently on sandwich and slice in half crosswise on bias. Wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap. Place rimmed baking sheet on top of sandwiches and weight with heavy Dutch oven or two 5-pound bags of flour or sugar  for 1 hour, flipping sandwiches halfway through weighting. (Wrapped sandwiches can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Let come to room temperature before serving.)
  5. Unwrap sandwiches, slice each sandwich in half (or in thirds to serve 6) on bias, and serve.

Photo Credit: Carl Tremblay