Traditionally called pencas, this is an incredible fried sandwich held together with a panko breadcrumb coating and filled with soft melted layers of swiss chard, smoked cheese and cured meat. It’s an old Spanish recipe, passed down through generations. Make sure you cut everything to the same size so that it’s easy to layer up and don’t be put off by the multiple stages – believe me, it’s so worth it.
Makes 4-6 sandwiches
swiss chard 1kg, white and green parts separated
smoked tetilla cheese 420g (or smoked mozzarella if unavailable)
olive oil 1 tbsp
garlic 1 clove, very finely chopped
red chilli ½, very finely chopped
wind-dried beef 100g, such as cecinas (available at shops like Brindisa, or alternatively use bresaola)
eggs 2, whisked
panko breadcrumbs 300-400g
rapeseed oil for frying
balsamic reduction for drizzling
Blanch the white part of the chard in salted water until very soft. This will take around 5 minutes. Cut into small rectangle portions, around 6cm long and the width of the leaf.
Cut the cheese into roughly 70g portions, ½-1cm in depth and the same dimensions as the white chard.
Blanch the green part of the chard in salted water for 2 minutes, then chop very finely. Pan fry the chopped greens with the olive oil, garlic and chilli, plus salt and pepper to taste for 3-4 minutes.
To layer the sandwich, begin with a piece of the white Swiss chard. Next add a layer of cheese and a layer of beef. Add about a tablespoon of the green chard mixture on top and spread corner to corner, before layering with more beef, cheese, and another piece of the white swiss chard to finish.
Hold together and dip the whole sandwich in flour, then into the whisked egg. Finally dip in panko breadcrumbs, covering the entire sandwich with a light coating.
Add rapeseed oil to a deep-sided frying pan, full enough to cover half of the sandwich. Fry the sandwich on a low heat until golden brown on all sides, gently turning as you go, then transfer to an oven tray and put in the oven at 160 degrees for 2-3 minutes to cook through and melt the cheese. Serve with a watercress salad and drizzle with a balsamic reduction.