These sandwiches deserve an accompanying score by Bernard Herrmann. These sandwiches are my Birth of a Nation, and take about as long to make as the movie. Delicious to eat at the moment of completion, delicious to eat re-heated out of the refrigerator… hell, pull a chair right up to the refrigerator and eat them cold right off the shelf!
I used pretty much every kitchen utensil and countertop appliance I owned at some point in the preparation of this meal, from the meats and cheeses to the homemade sandwich dressing and blackberry-walnut balsamic vinaigrette for the greens.
I love making food. I derive so much peace and satisfaction out of it. I had a lot going on in the kitchen this particular night. I was on octopus. I couldn’t stop myself. Eating the finished product isn’t half as much fun as making it.
And, in the end, it’s just sandwiches. Take note of the below, or don’t. Use all, none or sixty percent of the instructions. Even I can’t fuck up sandwiches.
Here’s what you need for the sandwiches and dressing:
- 4-6 French rolls (depending on how high you like to pile the meat and cheese)
- 4 ounces sandwich style pepperoni
- 4 ounces Italian dry salame
- 4 ounces fresh Italian-style sausage
- 2 cups Asiago cheese, shredded
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Muenster cheese, shredded
- 1-2 Roma tomatoes
- 4-6 bay leaves (one per sandwich)
- 1 cup Mayonnaise
- 1 cup mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced green onions
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
Here’s what you need for the Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup blackberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
First… slice up all your meats and cheeses. I used the shredder blades in my food processor and even though it all took less than a minute, I certainly missed hacking away with my knives. The additional preparation time it takes somehow brings me closer to the finished dish. But this meal was going to take at least an hour – and an exhausting one at that. The only way I was going to slice all these deli goodies up by hand was if I had done it as its own task earlier in the day, accompanied by some Secret Agent if I could really have it all my way.
Meet the Cheeses:
Asiago Cheese is an Italian cheese that was originally made in the Asiago High Plateau in the Italian Alps. It is semi-sweet and nutty-flavored, which makes it damn near perfect in sandwiches and with salame. It also is fantastic with fruit and wine. A tremendous table cheese.
Muenster Cheese is mild with a soft, smooth texture, and it melts beautifully. It is the heart of this sandwich. It’s also great on its own in grilled cheese or my personal favorite… alongside crackers and blackberries. See below:
Mozzarella is a staple in my refrigerator because of my love of pizza. Mozzarella cheese is not produced using the aging process, but instead a process known as pasta filata which means the curds are heated in water or whey until they form strings and become elastic in texture (think “string cheese”). The curds are stretched, kneaded until smooth, and then formed into round balls to make fresh mozzarella cheese. Ideally, this means that the best time to eat it is only several hours after it’s been finished. There are a vast amount of “make your own mozzarella” recipes online. One will eventually find its way onto my refrigerator.
The tongue-busting dressing for the sandwiches is a combination of the mayonnaise, honey dijon mustard, garlic, jalapenos, green onions and a bit of salt and pepper. Blend together until well-mixed and creamy. With a little luck, you’ll have some left over to use as dressing on meals for the week.
Spread your dressing on one side of the roll and a little mayo on the other side. Pile on your bay leaves, meats and then your grated holy-cheese-trinity.
For the dressing, mix the vinegar, olive oil, honey, pepper and blackberries until smooth and creamy. I threw the walnuts in at the end and gave it another very quick blend to chop them up just a bit. This dressing is sweet and tangy but also very, very potent, so don’t use too much on your greens. I did, and ended up nearly drowning the salad.
In my magic bullet, the mixture looked like something out of a 1960s science fiction movie. Possibly a cyborg brain? MG would have a more accurate reference.
Wrap the sandwiches up in tin foil and cook at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Check periodically as you may end up adjusting the cooking time to suit your own desired level of melted-meat-and-cheese-goodness. Pop whatever foil bunnies you won’t be eating that night into the fridge and grab them out each morning as you’re headed off to work for a lunch that will make your co-workers jealous.