Southerners' love a good sandwich

May 1, 2013 

Nothing speaks to Southerners like a sandwich. It is the most common food we grew up with, from snack to supper time.

It can take the most simplistic form in two pieces of white bread, a thin slice of bologna and a dab of mayonnaise or mustard or it can be as complicated as the Chivito, the national sandwich of Uruguay. Even Elvis made his mark on this culinary world with his fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.

The first man to think of putting something good to eat between two slices of bread is thought by many to be John Montague, 4th Earl of Sandwich, but that is a dubious claim. Once the technology of bread making was conquered, which occurred as early as 30,000 years ago, then it couldn't have been long before someone added something on top and folded it over.

Certainly this is a culinary idea that has spread all over the world, but no one does it like us Yanks do. The Swiss make a killer ham and cheese sandwich with Gruyere cheese and smoked ham. The Spanish make a bocadillo that's filled with an omelet or even tuna and a German wurst stuffed into a fresh-baked brotchen and topped with hot mustard is pretty darn good. But how do these lightweights

stand up to a barbecue pulled pork sandwich, a Reuben, Monte Cristo, muffuletta or fried shrimp po-boy fully dressed? They don't.

CHIVITO

1 rib-eye steak

2 ounces thinly sliced ham

2 ounces crispy fried bacon

1/2 cup sliced onions

3-4 ounces pepper jack cheese

Mayonnaise

Lettuce

Tomato

1 hardboiled egg, sliced

1 sesame seed bun

Season the steak with fresh ground black pepper and grill, making sure to note overcook it. Fry the bacon, when crispy remove and set aside. If you do not have dietary concerns, cook the onions in the bacon fat until caramelized. Hardboiled the egg, let cool, remove the shell and cut into slices. Assemble the sandwich by slicing open the bun, slather on the mayonnaise, add the egg, then the steak and then top with the remaining ingredients.

-- Provided by restaurateur Thomas Johnson of Yazoo City, Miss. This recipe is for one sandwich.

DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER

There are several questions to be considered when making this burger. The first is the quality of the meat to use. Hands down USDA prime beef is the best, but it is expensive and not always available. Do not use beef that is too lean, it makes for a dry burger. If you insist on lean beef add in some chopped onions for a bit of moisture. The quality of the cheese you use also is an important consideration. Aged Gruyere is arguably the best melting cheese in the world; it is intensely flavorful and has great texture when melted. It is also expensive. Beware of cheeses that melt well, are nice and gooey and have no flavor at all. Lastly you will have to decide if you want to top the burger with grilled bell pepper or thick spicy slices of canned green chiles. Of course, if you want the very best, grill you're own peppers on a wood fire (poblanos would be a good choice).

This recipe is for one burger.

2 hamburger patties

3 slices bacon

1 can whole green chiles or 1 sliced and grilled bell pepper

Aged Gruyere cheese

Fresh sliced tomatoes

Garlic mayonnaise

Black pepper, red pepper flakes and salt

Dale's Steak Seasoning

Crusty bread or best possible bun

If you are not using USDA Prime beef you might want to season the hamburger first; use black pepper, red pepper flakes and a tablespoon or so of Dale's Steak Seasoning and perhaps some chopped garlic. If you did score some prime beef, just a bit of freshly ground black pepper is called for. Form the patties by hand, remembering that there are two per burger. Start the burger over an aggressive flame, but allow it to burn down or turn the flame down to finish them. The hot flame will sear and seal the patty and the slow cooking over a lower flame will insure it is tender and moist. Do not overcook the burger. Just before they are done add the cheese, and use plenty of it, skimping at a time like this would be sinful. Slice the bread and slather on the garlic mayonnaise. When the cheese is melted place the burger on the bun, top with chiles or grilled bell pepper, add the next burger and garnish with tomatoes.

Garlic mayonnaise; roast two whole garlic blubs in olive oil with a sprig of rosemary until tender. When cooled remove the flesh of the garlic and combine with one cup of mayonnaise, some of the olive oil and chopped bits of rosemary. Blend and keep refrigerated.

SIMPLE SHRIMP AND SLAW SANDWICH

Recipe for one sandwich.

4-6 shrimp

1 avocado

1 lemon

1 bag coleslaw mix

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

Black pepper, red pepper flakes, Tony Chachere's Seasoning

Crusty multi grain bread, locally baked preferable

Season the shrimp aggressively with Tony's. Oil a sauté pan and heat until smoking, add the shrimp and cook quickly, no more than 45 seconds on a side. If you've got the heat right they will take on good color and be just a bit crusty, but not over cooked. Peel the avocado and slice it, juice the lemon and pour over the avocado so it does not brown. Combine the slaw mix, mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar and mix well. Taste and season to your liking, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Add the shrimp to the bread, top with the slaw and then the sliced avocado, season with black pepper and red pepper flakes and serve at once.

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