Secrets to the Ultimate PB&J (and to Becoming a Superhero)
Although I was once a cook in one of the world's fanciest restaurants, I'll never waiver on my opinion about the greatest sandwich on earth. I'm talking about the Peanut Butter and Jelly, of course.
PB&Js are simple, fast, easy-on-the-wallet, and downright delicious. Kind of like food from, well, McDonalds. PB&J's however, don't come with the guilt of supporting a fast food, super-sized eating mantra. And although they're the stalwart of the elementary school brown bag lunch, I'll make the case it is the sexiest sandwich ever. It has a playful nature and alluring ingredients (soft, supple bread + sweet, velvety peanut butter + sticky, luscious jam) that make you want to make out.
An everyday PB&J fits the bill for all I've described above. But if you make one using the tips below, your kids will think you've got superpowers and your husband will buy you flowers. Ready, set, go...
1. Use the Right Bread Choose anything that has the texture of Wonder Bread. If you insist on a loaf that's full of seeds and nuts, that's fine, but make sure it is soft and fresh. Lightly toasting the bread is appropriate, but only if you're going open-face.
2. Use Red Jam Duh. Orange and yellow-colored jams make the sandwich taste "interesting," an adjective that has no business near a PB&J.
3. Add Butter Spread a thin veil of room temperature butter on each slice of bread. Ruth Reichl taught me that. If you're freaking out about the added fat and calories, please stop. It's not like the sandwich is all that good for you in the first place.
4. Nuke It Another tip a 'la Ruth. Eight seconds in the microwave will do the trick. The peanut butter delightfully melts without getting goopy and hot. Speaking of temperature changes, some advocate for cooking the sandwich like a grilled cheese. It's a fine idea, but adds 5 minutes of prep time and dirties a pan, therefore I abstain.
5. Consider Potato Chips If you need a variation, a single layer of potato chips make it crispy and salty. Awesome. Recently, our Test Kitchen discovered that BBQ potato chips are great option; if you're a bacon fanatic, you'll love how they add a hint of smoky flavor.
6. Skip the Plate There is something wonderful about eating a PB&J straight off of a paper towel, or better yet, a piece of wax paper. I love the way wax paper feels between my fingers and the crinkly noise it makes when you fold or crumple it. No plate is great for nostalgia. And, no plate is a good reminder that in today's crazy world, we can feed ourselves and our souls in less than a minute with just a few ingredients.