I mentioned in my last post that I'm a regular listener to the podcast of Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster Burton, Spilled Milk. Check it out if you haven't: it's always an entertaining way to spend 20 minutes or so. They focus on one food per episode, sharing their childhood recollections of the food and offering recipes for that food from their current cooking life. Occasionally they just taste test a whole bunch of junk food.
A recent episode was about sandwiches, and each shared their top five favorite sandwiches. I have never been a big sandwich fan, if you think about sandwiches in their typical, what you would pack in your school lunch iteration of a sandwich.
But, I am definitely drawn to the sandwich listings on a restaurant menu, and would definitely prefer something like a chicken sandwich over an entree of fried chicken, for example. Many more opportunities for varied taste experiences throughout the eating of that kind of a sandwich.
It got me thinking about my own top five, so here is the list I settled upon. (in no particular order)
1. Pulled Pork sandwich, preferably from Eli's Barbecue, but I'm not above one from a lesser establishment. Jim shakes his head at me when I order this in a place like Frisch's, mostly because I'm so predictable, but also because he'll just stick to the safe burger, thank you very much.
I think what I like about a pulled pork sandwich is again, the varied taste experiences in each bite. I definitely want slaw on my sandwich, not just on the side, and I hope it's a slaw with more vinegar than mayo. Pickles on it might even be good. The best pulled pork is smoky and crunchy in places, with not too much sauce, but enough that you can taste it.
2. Turkey Reuben. Never with corned beef: too fatty, and the sauerkraut is the star here anyway. I like it on grilled rye for sure, with plenty of thousand island dressing. When I was in young, when bagels were a new and fascinating thing in the Midwest, there was a bagel shop near a bookstore I liked. They had a turkey reuben bagel on their menu that came on a pumpernickel bagel, and had red russian dressing instead of thousand island. I'd still choose that sauce over thousand island in a heartbeat, but it's not something you see all that often anymore.
3. Chicken Sandwich: I debated whether or not to even include this on the list, because for some reason, a chicken sandwich feels more like a meal, less like a "sandwich" made with bread, etc. I don't think you'd put a hamburger on a list of sandwiches, for example. It is its own category. Same with a chicken sandwich in all its iterations. However, a good, marinated chicken breast grilled or fried properly on a chewy bun will always be tops on my list of a food to enjoy, so I think it has to have a place on this list. A Buffalo version with ranch dressing: always a good idea.
4. Hot Pepper Turkey. This is a sandwich on the menu at the sports bar down the street from our house that we have been regularly visiting since the week it opened. N. literally has grown up there, as it was probably the first restaurant she visited in her little pumpkin seat at three weeks old or so. The hot pepper turkey features peppered sliced deli turkey, pepper jack cheese and a chipotle mayo, on wheat bread, which is then grilled. I get mine without the cheese, so it's a little less spicy than as intended, but nonetheless delicious.
5. Pot Roast Sandwich at Bob Evans. Okay, you might as well just graze on a salt lick for a while as eat this very salty sandwich. But the fall apart beef, onions and carrots (grated, not big chunks that would overwhelm the rest of things) is so yummy that I pass up the breakfast menu at Bob Evans to order it. We don't go here very often, but when we do, it's usually because I've been thinking about this sandwich. I get mine without cheese of course, and I really do not think the slice of American cheese it's supposed to be served with would improve it in any way.
List established, I realize that there is not one sandwich on this list that I make, or would really try to make at home. Not surprising. It's why I'm not so much of a packed lunch girl. Perhaps it's the no cheese necessity, but there is just nothing exciting or interesting to me about a cold sandwich, whether it's with lunch meat, some sort of spread, or even a collection of vegetables. Food, unless it's a fruit or vegetable meant to be eaten raw, or a chip or a cracker meant to be eaten out of the box, should be warmed and prepared in some way. If you're not going to cook it, what's the point? I almost included the day after Thanksgiving leftover sandwich, but even that would involve me warming up the turkey and filling before putting it on toast spread with cranberry sauce. This is one of the reasons packing my kids' lunches is one of my most dreaded tasks: it's so disheartening assembling that food meant to stay the same until they can get to it. (I know, I know, I could pack them a thermos or some artful bento box. That's a topic for another day, though)
All right, now I'm hungry, so I'm off to heat up something for second breakfast. I won't be making a sandwich, I guess. What's on your top five? I'm sure I've made some glaring omission, so I'd be interested to hear what you like to eat between slices of bread.