When Dom Wilton and Edward Ring – both formerly of Stokehouse – decided to team up and open Melbourne sandwich shop Hector’s Deli in 2017, they had one aim. Instead of making sandwiches with “the most expensive ingredients in the world”, says Wilton, the plan was to create simple “classic combination sandwiches everybody wants and can afford to eat all the time”.
That thread resulted in menu items like the chicken schnitty, featuring crumbed chicken schnitzel on a steamed white bun with tarragon butter, iceberg lettuce and secret mayo; the beef and pickle, which matches pastrami with three different types of pickles on light rye; and the trout bagel, featuring cold smoked trout with trout roe, cream cheese and red onion on a poppyseed bagel.
“The first principle of making a good sandwich is to stick to the classics,” says Wilton. When making them at home, “just make them more delicious by altering the ingredients you already have. [For example], if you start with shit bread then you’ve already fucked up.”
As well as using premium ingredients, no matter how basic the combo, Wilton is a fan of repurposing leftovers, as long as one principal is adhered to: “don’t put meals created to be served on their own between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich,” he says. Instead, remove unnecessary parts of the meal – such as carbohydrates – to higlight the quality of the main ingredient. Then slap it inside some bread. This might be as simple as saving a few patties from a spaghetti and meatball dinner and turning them into hoagie-style sangas the next day.
“That’s the beauty of bread,” says Wilton. “Depending on where your standards lie, you’re setting yourself up for a pretty good lunch. Just don’t put noodles in a sandwich.”
Here’s Wilton’s guide to a sauce-and-sandwich combination to level up classic leftover meatballs.
Dom Wilton’s Leftover Meatball Sanga
Makes two big rolls.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Red sauce (hot)
1/2 white onion, finely sliced
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
600g Italian peeled tomatoes in tomato juice
30ml thin hot sauce (Chilli Juice by Westmont Pickles is ideal)
360g beef and pork mince mixed 50/50
2 hoagie-style white rolls (such as the ones available at Melbourne’s Commercial Bakery
In a skillet over a medium heat, lightly brown the onion and garlic in oil. Add bay leaf and tomatoes, smashing the tomatoes slightly. Add hot sauce and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
Simmer for 30 mins.
Add meatballs to the red sauce and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
Cut the bread lengthways and butter generously on both sides. Top each roll with three meatballs and a good splash of red sauce. Garnish with chilli flakes, a generous portion of parmesan and torn fresh basil.