A Borough Market toastie

by Ed Smith

A celebration of freshly baked bread from The Borough Market Cookbook

One of the most satisfying ways to celebrate freshly baked bread is to sandwich it around world-class ingredients. And then to toast it.

Cheese is obligatory; ideally a combination of one that melts well and another that packs a powerful punch. But that dairy needs another savoury item to provide interest beyond the first bite. This could be a cured or cooked meat, or a thinly sliced but still punchy vegetable, like onions, leeks or fennel.

Condiments are essential, be it a piquant or sweet pickle or conserve, or something hot and spicy from Pimento Hill. Finally, the toastie must be cooked with care—compressed from time to time, and fried at a pace that ensures the outside is crisp and golden, and the centre molten.

To prescribe just one combination of ingredients would not do justice to the possibilities, so following the main recipe are a few ideas to inspire when out shopping or raiding the fridge.


2 x 1-2cm-thick slices of sourdough
60g cheese, ideally a 50/50 combination of melting and strong, both coarsely grated
20g sliced cured meat or 40g sliced cooked meat (optional)
15g onions, spring onions or leeks, finely sliced (optional)
Condiment of choice


Butter what will become the external sides of each piece of bread. Build the sandwich, with a sprinkle of cheese on the base first, then the meat or alliums, followed by the remaining cheese, then add pickles or spread the condiment onto the inside of the top slice, finally pressing that on top.

Place a heavy-based frying pan over a low-medium heat and allow it to warm up for 1 min. Transfer the sandwich to the frying pan and cook very gently, regularly pushing down on the sandwich with a fish slice or palette knife. After 2 mins, some but not all of the cheese will have melted and the base of the bread will be browning.

Carefully flip the toastie over and repeat the gentle frying and pressing for 2 mins more. Repeat, frying both sides for another 2 mins each, so that the cheese and fats are oozing out of the sandwich and the bread is golden and crisp.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 1-2 mins before eating—the centre will be hotter than the sun.

Possible combinations:

—Stilton (or other strong blue), fontina and kimchi
—Nduja, honey and mozzarella
—Cooked ham, raclette, comté and mustard
—Cheddar, Ogleshield, leeks and chutney
—Soft-rind white cheese, turkey and cranberry sauce
—Bresaola, tapenade and emmental on rye bread
—Fennel salami, umbrico (drunken cheese) and dill pickles
—Taleggio, roast peppers, spring onions and chives

Recipe: Ed Smith from The Borough Market Cookbook (Hodder and Stoughton, £25_
Image: Issy Croker