Sure, you can make a sandwich out of roast beef, rye bread, and maybe a leaf of crunchy lettuce or some thinly sliced raw onions, but have you really moved the needle? It's arguable that for all the ingredients you may pile on, without one key component, mustard, your sandwich will be a bland affair. Nowhere is it written in the rule books that mustard is de rigueur on a roast beef sandwich, but maybe it should be.
There's no denying that roast beef is a flavor-packed main attraction in the roster of heavy-hitting sandwich fillings. Laden with umami and that singular, slightly gamey beef flavor, wafer-thin slices of cold beef bring much to the party. But, just as there's no French without Saunders, no Laurel sans Hardy, roast beef without the proper foil fails to shine. Mustard, bursting at the seams with piquant falsetto tang, contrasts the basso profundo that is roast beef.
To just say roast beef and mustard, though, is too reductive. Just as this cold cut can come from any number of pieces of beef, from the lean to the fatty, so too is there a wide variety of mustards that can service a roast beef sandwich ably. Which style you reach for is up to your tastes and the desired outcome for the sandwich.
Mustard That Suits Your Style
In the U.S., the platonic ideal of mustard is vibrant yellow with a zippy tang and only mild heat. Though some snobs may balk at a squeeze bottle of French's or some other standard yellow mustard, there is a reason it has stood the test of time. Just as it outfits a summertime hot dog with aplomb, yellow mustard gives a roast beef sandwich a perfect little kick, especially one made with an off-the-shelf packaged roast beef that is milder in flavor.
If you want things a bit bolder, then reach for Dijon. Punchy, hot, and ever-so-slightly bitter, Dijon has long been the go-to pairing for rich French meat preparations. The dull yellow color belies a sinus-clearing essence with a bit of fruity herbaceousness from white wine. Brands readily available in the states, such as Grey Poupon, perform well but look online or in gourmet markets for a French import if you really want some bite.
Texture should not be forgotten. Roast beef can be yielding and tender and an all-around magical canvas for the seedy pop of whole-grain mustard. Not quite as bombastic as Dijon, nor quite as spritely as yellow, whole grain mustard gives off a good tang followed by unfolding mustard notes as the brownish yellow seeds give way in each bite.
Those desirous of more moisture should consider rounding out the roast beef sandwich with a smear of mayonnaise. Rich and creamy, it frames the meat and mustard for a sandwich of true gustatory beauty.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.