Thursday, January 05, 2006
The Fine Art of Chlebíčky 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The winter holidays are traditionally the time my family prepare and consume trayfuls what we know as "open-face Czech sandwiches," or chlebíčky, though their and ingredients and structure tend to suggest a Nordic origin befitting a groaning smörgasbörd. Strangely enough, the best image I was able to find of them appears on a Japanese website called Cheko.jp, along with other Bohemian memorables like goulash and dumplings. (see 4th image from the top). Some variants with cheeses, tomatoes, and tuna or chicken salads can be seen here.

You've say you've never heard of an open-face Czech sandwich? They may sound odd to the unitiated, but they are delicious. (I must confess, my mom and dad taught me everything I know about these.) One of the pleasures of living in Chicago is being able to walk into a little deli on Devon Avenue's International Marketplace, request "meat for open-faced Czech sandwiches," and without further ado be presented with proper slices of šunka and salám perfect for these party treats. You'll need:First you hard-boil half a dozen eggs, allow them to cool, chill them for a few hours in the refrigerator (or on your windowsill) and peel them carefully. Then, take a long loaf of sliced white Italian bread, arrange the slices on a large circular platter, and spread each slice thinly with mayonnaise. On each piece of bread place a slice of hard salami on once half of the bread, then overlap on the other side with a slice of ham (Virginia honey ham is quite nice). Using an egg slicer (or a very sharp non-serrated knife), cut each egg crosswise into about ten round slices. Most of the slices will have yolk in the center; you'll place one of them on the center of the hard salami sections of the sandwiches. Reserve the white egg ends and yolkless slices, and mash them in a small bowl with a fork to make little egg bits.

Can you picture them yet? Next, place one (or two if small) drained slice of sweet bread-and-butter pickle on the center of each ham section; don't use regular dills, as the flavor won't be quite right. Now, using a fork or spoon, sprinkle a few bits of mashed boiled egg white over each finished sandwich. Voilà!