Kitchn Love Letters

This 3-Ingredient Sandwich Will Transport You to Paris

updated May 20, 2022
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Credit: Patty Catalano

The effortlessness of French elegance extends from fashion and architecture to art and food (bien sûr!). In the hands of the French, even the simplest ingredients can become the most satisfying and delicious meal you’ve eaten in days. Take the jambon-beurre. This sandwich is a café classic requiring just three ingredients and moments to make. When the ingredient list is so short, standard lunchmeat and sandwich bread simply will not do. I turned to David Lebovitz, an American expat in Paris, for advice on how to bring this Parisian staple home.

The Sandwich I Eat Every Spring

Back in the spring of 2020, during the initial lockdowns due to the pandemic, David Lebovitz took to Facebook with his partner, Romain Pellas, to prepare jambon-beurre. Their video came at just the right time. I was confined at home with travel an impossibility, yet reminiscing about a spring break spent in Paris with my sisters. The peek into their Parisian kitchen, the banter, and the care with which they chose three simple ingredients was a welcome distraction from my present. I return again and again to the ease and elegance of this simple sandwich — especially in the spring. The sturdy sandwich is the perfect thing to pack for spring picnics and evenings at the ballpark.

Credit: Patty Catalano

What Ingredients Are Needed for Jambon-Beurre?

You only need three things for this sandwich: a baguette, butter, and ham. David and Romain are lucky to have access to specialty bakers and grocers, but there are equally good options available at stores here in the States. While a standard baguette from my neighborhood chain grocery store would technically work here, to do this sandwich justice I head to a smaller market that sells locally baked baguettes. The same market also sells jambon de Paris, or French-style ham. If you can’t find that, buy the best-quality, thickly sliced unsmoked ham. Add moisture and richness to the sandwich with butter — Kerrygold is a great option, as is Banner Butter (a local-to-me brand that also ships nationwide). If your butter is unsalted, go ahead and season the buttered bread before laying on strips of ham. While not absolutely required, I follow David and Romain’s advice and serve the sandwich with cornichons for crunch.

Credit: Patty Catalano

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