• Deep-fried brie and turkey baguette (Smith Street Books / Chris Middleton)Source: Smith Street Books / Chris Middleton
All our fave ways to turn a hunk of bread into a marvellous meal, from falling apart pork to fried cheese and tasty-as-heck tofu.
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1 May 2020 - 1:20 PM  UPDATED 16 Dec 2020 - 8:20 PM

From deep-fried brie to banh mi, from squashed Cuban rolls to street-food skewers, a baguette can play host to just about any filling.

Whether you’ve scooped up a long crusty baton from your local bakery, or you’re making your own classic French bread (give it a go with leading French baker Eric Kayser’s baguette recipe; you can do it by hand or using a stand mixer), you can turn it into a meal to suit every taste. Vegetarian? Francophile? Mad for meatballs? The baguette is there for you, and so are we. Here are our favourite ways to stuff this crusty French classic.

Banh mi, all the ways

It’s a Vietnamese classic, and we can’t get enough of it. "The French introduced baguettes to Vietnam, however, the Vietnamese created a large variety of delicious and creative fillings to go inside them. This fish cake baguette is one of my favourites as there are great contrasts of textures – from the crisp baguette to the bouncy fish cakes," says Luke Nguyen of this Vietnamese baguette with fried fish cakes (banh mi cha ca) recipe from his Street Food Asia series.

Vietnamese baguette with fried fish cakes

Pork banh mi is often made with deli-style pork, or pork terrine, but this version goes for hearty pork meatballs.

Pork meatball banh mi

What’s that you say? You want a vamped-up vegan version of the Vietnamese classic? (Go on, try saying that quickly!). We gotcha.  Marinated and pan-fried tofu (kinda sticky, kinda crisp), satay sauce and pickled veg come together in a taste explosion in this tofu banh mi.   

Tofu banh mi

Pressed for time

Just a few fillings in this Cuban and dead simple to make, but put it all in a sandwich press and you’ve got melty, crusty ‘grab it with two hands and dig in’ deliciousness.

The Cuban

Cheese, please

Yes, there’s turkey and cranberry sauce but the star player here is the deep-fried brie. This is one sweet, rich and oozy baguette!

Deep-fried brie and turkey baguette

Throw another prawn on the baguette…

Take a trip to the southern USA with these Louisiana prawn po’boys; the prawns take a bath in a punchy Louisiana marinade, then after a visit to the grill, they’re stuffed into crusty French bread and drizzled with a caper, mustard and mayo sauce.

Louisiana prawn po'boy

“Be generous with the butter,” says Karen Martini of these Aussie prawn baguettes with minted cabbage and sumac, perfect for using up any leftover prawns. Buttered baguette rolls are stuffed with prawns, grilled pancetta, cabbage, mint, and chilli sauce.

Prawn baguette with minted cabbage and sumac

Feeling French

Given her heritage (her mother is French) it’s not surprising that author and TV host Justine Schofields’s fave baguette is a French classic. “A classic baguette is a vehicle for so many different dishes … For me, butter, quality butter, ham and cornichon is the ultimate sandwich, non-negotiable! So French! It's jambon-buerre in French. A butter and ham sandwich, it sounds like nothing, it sounds 'oh, whatever'. But it is quintessentially French,” she says when SBS Food chats to her about her favourite fillings.

Her Francophile crab and prawn baguette recipe is another nod to France’s love of this crusty baton, inspired by a visit to New Caledonia, where there’s a strong French influence on the local food.

Whether it's a seafood sandwich or a few slices of gravlax

“In Nouméa, all over New Caledonia, you see people carrying their baguettes all day, whether it's at lunch, or breakfast, or even at dinner, because without baguette on the table, the table is not complete,” she says. The island paradise also has an amazing array of seafood, so the baguette recipe she shares in Tropical Gourmet: New Caledonia brings together two of the key parts of New Caledonian food. “This is the ultimate crab and prawn sambo,” she says.

Street food skewers

Kreung – a fragrant paste made from lemongrass, turmeric, garlic and galangal – is at the heart of the marinade used to make these char-grilled Khmer beef skewers, a popular Cambodian street food.

The perfect pork roll

Braised and fried pork is the basis of Peru’s pan con chicharron. This home version of the popular pork roll uses roasted pork belly, piled on a crusty roll or chunk of baguette with fried sweet potato, a spicy onion salsa and chilli mayo sauce.

Use your hands for this one…

Mexico’s “drowned” spicy shredded beef rolls (tortas ahogadas con carne deshebrada) are messy but marvellous! These rolls are a speciality of Jalisco and its capital, Guadalajara. Birote, the bread that is traditionally used for this sandwich, is quite dense, with a thick, hard crust, which prevents the roll from falling apart in your hands. A denser style of baguette will do nicely as a substitute.

Join Justine Schofield for Tropical Gourmet: New Caledonia, double episodes 8.30pm Mondays from 27 April to 18 May on SBS Food Channel 33, and then on SBS On Demand.  Those Francophile prawn baguettes are in Ep 8, Monday 18 May, while in Ep 3 on May 4 she's making a rich octopus stew, mopped up, of course, with baguette. 

 

Bake your own
Baguette

This crusty, classic French baguette is an excellent baking skill to have up your sleeve.

better with baguette
Beef carpaccio with cucumber, grapefruit and green papaya

The garnish is a fabulous combination of sweet, sharp, crunchy and zesty, with a little bite from the chilli and radish.

Octopus and tomato stew

This is a wonderful way of cooking larger octopus, as it becomes so tender. Serve with crusty baguette for mopping up the sauce!

8 ways to lengthen the lifespan of a baguette
There’s plenty of tasty options for when your crusty bread stick becomes a little too crusty.
Phasers on stun chicken sub with kimchi mayo

Using panko breadcrumbs to crumb the chicken results in golden crispy gloriousness. Cut the sub into Tribble or Klingon sized pieces, according to your needs.

French onion soup (soupe à l'oignon)

So simple, so perfect, this is a recipe that can make the world seem alright again. It originated as a hearty soup for Paris market workers who needed to warm themselves up on cold mornings. France Vidal loves it as her winter treat.

Drowned chicken sandwiches (torta ahogada)

Traditionally, queso añejo cheese and bolillo rolls (Mexican bread that’s crisp on the outside and soft on the inside) are used, but for convenience, we’ve used fetta and Vietnamese baguettes.