First, before I start, let me just say that I am a finalist in the Saveur 2015 Blog Awards! If you have a moment to register, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d run over there and vote for me in the Most Delicious Food category! Now, onto the recipe. Sometimes you hear or read about something so amazingly delicious that you are compelled to run to the store, grab all of the necessary ingredients, and make it. That doesn’t happen often with me. I mean, I definitely read about good food all the time. I probably send my friends too many articles about restaurant openings or new products from name brands or some new cocktail that we have to try. But this is different because it’s so pain stakingly simple, yet for some reason I had never tried it before because I am an idiot. A big, dumb idiot. How has it never occurred to me to make fried peanut butter sandwiches? It seems so obvious. Thick, toasted bread, cooked in plenty of butter, with warm, melty peanut butter oozing out with each and every bite. Yes, I want to eat that, please. I have two eyes, a heart and a stomach, don’t I? I heard about this sandwich on the first episode of the new podcast by Food52, Burnt Toast. I, like many of us, have become somewhat of a podcast fiend over the past year (this trend is finally really big in New York – I know it’s been huge in LA for years but we have to download things to our phones to listen to them underground…but I digress) and Burnt Toast is perfect for those of us who want to hear about food, food trends, cookbooks and the like. Anyway, the first episode deals with “weird foods”, as it were, and the opening topic was a kimchi and peanut butter sandwich. I have yet to try this, but I think I would really like it, because spicy + peanut butter does taste good (pad thai, anyone). The thing that really spoke to me, though, was when Allison Robicelli briefly mentioned eating toasty peanut butter sandwiches as a kid. She described the melty peanut butter and that’s all I needed to hear. I was on a fried peanut butter sandwich mission.
Hey there, now.
The following Saturday, Kramer and I went to brunch at Delaware and Hudson (I had crab cakes, they were awesome), then we wandered around trying to find new glasses for him, then I remembered my peanut butter sandwich craving. “Let’s stop in The Bedford Cheese Shop real quick – they have good bread,” I said, not really explaining why we, two people trying our best not to eat like sophisticated children but failing miserably, needed a big loaf of bread. Big was an understatement, as you can see, because the pullman loaf that we got was the size of at least two loaves of bread. No matter. Half is still in the freezer, waiting to be made into bread pudding or breadcrumbs or croutons or whatever else. Next, we needed creamy, name brand peanut butter. My favorite is Skippy. Natural peanut butter is fine, too, but we’re trying to evoke the best childhood memories here, so I went for the good stuff. But, this being Brooklyn, I had to go to THREE bodegas before I found what I was looking for. Everyone had natural peanut butter, the kind where you have to stir and stir and stir and stir before the oil and peanut butter comes together and ohmygod I am so uninterested in that. There was also lots of chunky peanut butter, which I used to use exclusively, but I’m back on the creamy bandwagon. You can use crunchy here if you like, but the bread is going to be toasted and crisp, so the juxtaposition of crunchy bread and creamy peanut butter makes the most sense to me.
So, armed with a big ass loaf of bread and creamy Skippy peanut butter, I got into my kitchen ready to throw down. I can’t describe how satisfying it was to stand there making something so simple, spreading big mounds of smooth peanut butter over thick slices of freshly sliced white bread. Ah yes. Another key to making these sandwiches is that you shouldn’t bother trying to spread cold butter over cold bread in order to get the slices golden and toasted – just melt a few tablespoons in your pan and let the bread soak it up that way. Just keep adding more as needed. You’re already making fried peanut butter sandwiches, so I wouldn’t go easy on the butter. Go nuts. It’s worth it. I kept my sandwiches warm in the oven until I was ready to serve them, and oh good lord, were they good. The bread was golden, crispy, buttery – everything you’d want it to be, and the peanut butter. Oh the peanut butter. It was warm and gooey and melty and falling out of the sandwich in the best way possible. I don’t typically reach for a glass of milk most days, but I definitely had one alongside this sandwich. This is maybe my new favorite food. I’m a peanut butter fiend, and this just hits the spot. You can add bananas or honey or marshmallow fluff, sure, but I am of the opinion that simple is best here, so you really only need bread, butter and peanut butter. Trust me.