Eating a sandwich can be an elevated culinary experience that’s as transcendent as the flakiest, creamiest, and buttery croissant you’ve ever tasted. Here’s my “recipe” for a prosciutto and brie baguette sandwich, the best thing to cheer me up on a snowy March afternoon.
Daydreaming about travel and greener pastures, I remember reveling in idyllic picnics in the Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg. While it’s been more than a decade since I was in Paris, a bite of a prosciutto sandwich brings me back in a snap.
Due to our kitchen demolition, sandwiches and other no-cook dishes are the easiest foods to reach for.
In this recipe, I’m sharing one of my favorite sandwiches. Don’t let its simplicity fool you. This sandwich packs flavor and umami in a small package with plenty of variation ideas.
Plus, it’s perfect for picnics, lunches, and dinner on-the-go.
Best bread for this sandwich
Baguette is my preferred bread for this sandwich but you can substitute any kind of bread you like, such as ciabatta, French country bread (pain de campagne), sour dough, or bâtard. Even sandwich bread works.
If you want the most gourmet sandwich possible, use bread that comes straight from the oven. Unless you live in France, most bread from the supermarket or bakery tastes like it’s been sitting around for a day or two.
To remedy this problem, I recommend getting a parbaked baguette that you finish baking in the oven. You can buy parbaked baguettes from Trader Joe’s and conventional grocery stores that carry the La Brea Take & Bake twin baguettes.
Sometimes parbaked baguettes are frozen. Check the bakery aisle and the frozen food section if you can’t find parbaked options in the bakery section.
TIP: If you can’t find parbaked baguettes, you can buy ready-to-eat baguettes. To make them taste fresh from the oven, I spritz them 2-3 times with water and bake them in the preheated oven at 375 °F / 190 °C. Bake until the crust is golden brown (usually about 8-10 minutes).
A recipe is nothing more than a suggestion on how to make something at a fixed point in time. When you’re sitting on your picnic blanket with friends and rummaging around the cooler to figure out what each person brought to feast on, you can improvise and make whatever sandwich you want.
Which cold cuts sliced meats to use? Whatever you like.
For picnics, the no-frills version is bread with a hunk of cheese. This combination represented 80% of the picnics I partook in Paris.
If you’ve got a glass of red wine or apple juice to go with this combo, and good company, you’re all set.
If someone brought a slice of ham or two, you’re in heaven.
Skip the cold cut sliced meats and replace with sun-dried tomatoes, grilled zucchini, eggplant, or mushrooms. Even jammy soft-boiled eggs. This is easy to prepare if you’re dining on your patio or near a kitchen. For a picnic, you’ll need to precook these items and bring them in containers.
TIP: Double bag those oily vegetables well. The olive oil in sun-dried tomatoes and other antipasti has a miraculous ability to leak regardless of how well you sealed the container.
At a picnic, it’s easiest to replace the meat with baked tofu, falafel, or sliced avocado and keep the cheese.
Open-faced sandwich: This means the bread is split in half lengthwise to make 2 separate sandwiches using the top and bottom halves of the bread. Not ideal for picnics, this works if you’re sitting at a table and eating on a plate with a knife and fork.
NOTE: You could add lettuce on top to act like the missing half of the bread to have something to grip onto if you’re eating it at a picnic.
Fruit and vegetable mix-ins
A prosciutto and brie sandwich goes perfectly with thinly sliced apple or pear. Some people like to add sliced fresh figs. You could even give it an Italian spin by using mozzarella instead of brie and adding a thin slice of cantaloupe / rock melon.
NOTE: Pat the mozzarella and melon dry to avoid making the bread soggy.
If you insist on adding fiber, a small handful arugula, baby spinach, and butter lettuce leaves add a green spark to your sandwich.
Tips for success
- Use the freshest bread possible
- Butter both sides of the bread: I use the butter as a water-resistant barrier to reduce sogginess in the bread
- Gently heat the bread: If your bread is cold and the butter isn’t spreading easily, allow the butter to come to room temperature first. If you’re in a rush and near a microwave, you can zap it for 15-20 seconds to melt chunk of butter, making it easier to spread.
- Scaling the recipe: You can make as many or as few sandwiches as you like. Scale the recipe up or down as needed.
- Grilled sandwich: You can heat the sandwich on a panini grill or fry it in a hot skillet with butter to make a hot sandwich.
Prosciutto and brie baguette sandwich, ideal for picnics
- bread knife
- Chopping Board
- 2 baguette, or use whatever bread you like
- 4 tablespoon (60 g) butter, room temperature
- 1 wedge Brie
- 1 package Prosciutto, or use your favorite cold cut sliced meats
- Gather the ingredients.
- Rip the tip from the baguette to chew on while you make your sandwich.
- Divide each baguette into thirds (or cut up as big of a piece as you want for your sandwich).
- Cut the baguette open lengthwise to expose the soft insides.
- Spread butter on both sides of the baguette interior.
- Cut a slice of brie from the wedge. Add it to the buttered bread.
- Layer your prosciutto on top of the cheese. Repeat the steps for the remaining pieces of bread.
- Divide each baguette into 3 pieces (or smaller).
- Cut the baguette open lengthwise. Use a bread knife if possible. If you don't have one, you can use a butter knife. If you're in a picnic environment, you can rip it open with your hands.
- Spread butter on the cut sides on the soft insides of the bread.
- Cut the desired amount of cheese from the wedge of brie. Add the cheese on top of the buttered side of the bread.
- Add the desired slices of meat to the cheese. Repeat with the rest of the bread.
- Enjoy your prosciutto and brie sandwiches!
Can it be made in advance?
Yes! The sandwich might not taste as delicious as when it’s fresh out of the oven, but you can make the sandwich ahead of time and eat it in a few hours or the next day.
How to store prosciutto sandwich
Store it in the fridge you don’t plan to eat the sandwich within 2 hours.
Wrap it in a paper towel: Since I don’t have paper bags designed for sandwiches, I wrap it in a paper towel and store it in a plastic bag to keep the sandwich from drying out. The paper towel comes in handy to use as a napkin for wiping away crumbs.
The sandwich stored in the fridge should be eaten within 3-5 days, according to the USDA.
How to set up for a picnic
If you’re bringing the sandwiches for a picnic, you can take them assembled or disassembled.
Pros of assembled: It’s less work and easier to clean up. You can use a bread knife and chopping board at home to make the cutting and prep process easier. Your hands will be cleaner (important if you’re making sandwiches for camping) when eating.
Pros of disassembled: You can let people make their preferred sandwich, especially if you have vegetarians who may not want prosciutto in their sandwich. You don’t accidentally make more sandwiches than necessary, therefore less waste.
Put the sandwiches in a cooler with ice packs (or frozen water bottles) for cool transportation until it’s time to eat.