70 copenhagen/denmark SMØRREBRØD ETIQUETTE Before diving head-first into the smørrebrød jungle, the responsible sandwich eater should familiarize themselves with the long-established routines that determine the proper way to make and eat smørrebrød. “Danes are sticklers for the rules. Smørrebrød are very regimented in that regard,” comments Schioler. THE BREAD Unlike soft New York deli rye, rugbrød is a heavy bread packed with seeds and cracked whole grains. The bread’s density means making an American double-faced, overstu¢ed sandwich is pretty impractical. And don’t even think about toasting it—the extra heat would dry out the bread and create an unpleasant cardboard-like texture. Rather, slather on a decadent layer of butter to stabilize the bread for an onslaught of toppings. If spread thickly enough, you’ll see tooth marks, called tand smør, or ‘tooth butter,’ after taking a bite. “It becomes smørrebrød the second you have the bread and butter on it,” comments Scott Peabody, head chef at The Copenhagen in New York, “anything else you put on after that is extra.” THE MAIN INGREDIENT Whether you opt for five di¢erent types of fish or a single slice of exquisite cheese, carefully selected toppings set smørrebrød apart from their less inspired brethren. The classic pickled herring smørrebrød contrasts tangy rugbrød with briny fish, while the crunchy onion complements the dense, earthy-sweet bread. Butter neutralizes the assertive sourdough flavor and cuts the bite of pickled herring. When properly combined, the topping should blend harmoniously with the bread, butter, and garnishes, rather than compete for attention. Craving a meatier sandwich? Try a classic roast beef with pickles, onions, and horseradish, which celebrate the rich and tender beef with the watery crunch of thinly cut pickles and brittle bite of red onion. To round out a smørrebrød meal, try pairing a blue cheese with thin slices of mellow pear for a sweet contrast to the thick, funky dairy. When the toppings are arranged so that they cover the bread without overlapping, there’s enough flavor to keep you satisfied, while letting you want one more bite. THE GARNISHES Once the toppings have been layered on, it’s time to embellish the taste and texture with garnishes. Schioler suggests adding “something with a good crunch, something that has a little bit of sauce and a nice lump of greens on top.” Unfortunately, too many cafés underplay the garnishes, decorating with watery cucumber, meek tomatoes, and cement-like remoulade. When topped with springy, fresh dill, crunchy pickles, and pungent red onions, garnishes unify the already tasty toppings. As Scott Peabody, head chef at New York’s The Copenhagen, astutely notes “smørrebrød aren’t just crap piled on top of each other.” If you wouldn’t eat the garnish on its own, it shouldn’t be on top of your smørrebrød. HOW TO FEAST Pick up a herring smørrebrød with your hands and the toppings are likely to slide o¢, dousing your shirt in a mess of dill and sliced red onion. Instead, gently attack it with a fork and knife—as Danes are trained to do from a young age. When your knife saws through the dense rugbrød, the toppings smoosh against the buttered bread and your fork sticks the garnishes from sliding o¢. Rather than a single secret ingredient or exclusive Danish sandwich-making gene, smørrebrød shine thanks to a combination of simple, well-executed parts. Fortunately, you don’t need to be Danish to prepare open-faced sandwiches that are as tasty as they are extravagant. A slice of rugbrød, a healthy dose of butter, and generous smattering of your favorite toppings are all that’s required for Danish sandwich nirvana. Emilia Morano-Williams is a writer and editorial intern at seriouseats.com. Since it was founded in 2006, Serious Eats has grown into an award-winning destination for millions of passionate, discerning, curious, and hungry readers around the world. Visit seriouseats.com for all things food and drink.