sandwich

Recipe: Fresh Ham Sandwiches with Jarlsberg

Growing up in Mobile, AL my family had a very basic New Year’s Eve tradition. My father, a deputy sheriff, had worked more than enough fireworks related accidents.  Therefore nothing more volatile than a sparkler was ever part of our celebration. Still we had a tradition-rich New Year’s.

Each of us kids was given a dollar bill to keep in a pocket. The superstition was that if you didn’t have money in your pocket at midnight you’d be broke all year long. Most of the evening was spent playing with whatever toys or games we received for Christmas while my mother was busy in the kitchen preparing the feast for the next day. The usual “good luck” foods like collard greens, black eyed peas, cornbread and a fresh baked ham.

JarlsbergAn hour or so before midnight my father would slice some of the fresh ham and pan fry it for a little caramelization on this old cast iron griddle. Once the ham was browned he would then assemble sandwiches with the ham, mayonnaise and yellow mustard between two slices of white bread.  My mother loved cheese so as a special touch we would add a few slices of Jarlsberg.  The sandwiches would then go on the old griddle until toasty. Simple but truly delicious.

Those ham sandwiches, dripping with melted Jarlsberg, were one of my mother’s favorite meals of the year, I think because it was one of the few she didn’t have to cook herself.  She and I had a wonderful relationship because her eyes were always bigger than her stomach.  My stomach for that matter was always a bottomless pit.

You can make this sandwich yourself using smoked ham but it is better with fresh baked ham, especially if it was baked my mother. The flavor is similar to a Cuban sandwich. Most likely I am a fan of the Cuban because it takes me back to those New Year’s Eves of my childhood.

At midnight, bellies full, we would count down the last ten seconds of the old year before screaming, “Happy New Year!” Kisses and hugs were exchanged and maybe a sip or two of something naughty. Before long we were unconscious, pork and a swallow of Whiskey Sour makes an excellent sedative for a youngster. We needed the rest, too, because the next day would be a torrent of soul food and football, the cornerstones of life.

Sure it was a bland, humdrum way to spend a New Year’s Eve but it is a heck of a lot better than watching a giant Moonpie dangle from a construction crane or dodging drunks on the highway.  It is also one of my most cherished childhood memories.

My dear mother passed away last month and I know that I will never again get to finish the last few bites of her sandwich for her.  But I am happy that at our last Christmas celebration we had all the makings of of those New Year’s sandwiches.  There was ham, mayo, mustard, plain white bread, Jarlsberg and for the last time my mother.

Jarlsberg is the perfect cheese for this sandwich because of its buttery, rich texture and easy melt-ability (New Word!).  It’s nutty undertones go perfectly with creamy mayo and tangy mustard.  You can learn more about Jarlsberg by visiting their blog, jarlsbergusa.wordpress.com or maybe even take in the Eat, Write, Retreat conference this May where they will be one of the sponsors.

You don’t have to wait for New Year’s Eve to make these sandwiches.  They are great for a middle of the week quick meal, a late-night snack or for your Super Bowl or March Madness party.  Check it out.

Griddle Ham Sandwiches with Jarlsberg
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4-8
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds baked fresh ham, sliced (may substitute smoked ham)
  • 16 slices white bread
  • 16 slices Jarlsberg or Jarlsberg light
  • Mayonnaise and mustard to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a cast iron griddle or skillet to medium heat.
  2. Pan fry the ham until hot. Remove and set aside.
  3. On one slice of of bread put a healthy amount of mayo, on another a heavy amount of mustard. Place the two pieces together to and twist to mix the condiments lightly.
  4. Open the bread back up and add four ounces of ham and two slices of Jarlsberg.
  5. Place the sandwiches on the griddle and cook until toasty, turn and cook until the other side is also toasty.
  6. Repeat until all ingredients are gone.

Mobile’s Best: An Ode to Sandwiches

In 2007 I did an article for ‘Zalea Magazine entitled An Ode to Sandwiches.  It was a tour of some of my favorite sandwiches in the Mobile area.  Due to restraints on the page a few of my favorites were yanked by the editor so I thought I would drop them off here with a few of my new favorites.

I’ll start with the Mellow Mushroom at the corner of Old Shell and University. Yeah, I know it’s a chain and as a rule I don’t eat at them but the ‘Shroom has an impressive list of hoagies with the Tempeh being the most interesting offering:  Tempeh is unfermented, marinated tofu and it is offered on your choice of French or whole wheat bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, Teriyaki, Balsamic vinaigrette, feta, grilled onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and sprouts.  The flavors are strong and pungent.

The Roast Duck Panini at the Royal Scam is amazingly decidant while still holding true to the comfort aspect of a sandwich.  Along with the duck breast you will find spinach, applewood smoked bacon, Gorgonzola, herb/garlic cheese and balsalmic vinaigrette.  Oddly enough, it is not the best sandwich I have had at Dave Rasp’s swanky tapas bar.  At one time they offered a vegetarian panini with goat cheese that was hands down the best sandwich I have ever had.

Regency Shopping Center offers two of the best sandwiches starting at Orleans ‘Po Boys (Airport and University and now Schillenger’s Road) which has been kicking out Mobile’s favorite sandwiches for over 10 years now.  They have award winning traditional ‘Po Boys, but their most popular is not exactly traditional.  The Joe Don includes roast beef, ham, Swiss cheese, gravy and LTO. The bread they use is absolutely perfect with a light, crunchy crust and a soft, airy middle.

Fifty yards or so away is La Cucina home of the Tortas Tampiquena which is tailor made for carnivores.  This huge sandwich is stuffed with Chorizo (a Spanish sausage), chicken, and a grilled hot dog.  They also pile on the cheese, mayonnaise, and LTO.

Looking for an excuse to visit the small Baldwin County community of Crossroads?  Stop by the Hurricane Drive-In and try one of the best BBQ pork sandwiches you will ever eat.  Thick, tender cubes of slow smoked pork tossed in a sauce that is neither too sweet nor too tangy on a large fresh bun.  Try it with the world’s best onion rings and a chocolate malt.

The Spot of Tea on Cathedral Square also boasts a healthy list of sandwiches with its two crown jewels being Jeromeo’s Hot Pastramio (pastrami topped with pepper jack, sliced pepperoncini, and Dijon mustard on New York rye) and the best Monte Cristo you will likely ever try.

Review: Sandwich King with Jeff Mauro

Jeff Mauro Food Network StarLast week the world (OK the food geek world) watched as Jeff Mauro was anointed the newest Food Network Star after a topsy-turvey 10 weeks of some of the craziest (see Penny Davidi) TV on record.  But now the reality show is over and reality begins.  It’s time to take a look at the Sandwich King.

Star premieres have been a mixed bag.  Party Time with the Hearty Boys and The Gourmet Next Door didn’t excite viewers therefore neither is still around except in occasional reruns.  Guys Big Bite, $10 Dinners and Aarti Party were all well received and all three are still going strong.  Then there is Big Daddy’s House.

Let’s be honest, the first episode of Big Daddy’s House was not very good.  It featured a gaggle of recycled recipes from Food Network’s early years as opposed to the inventive recipes that were host Aaron McCargo Jr.’s signature during the contest.  Speaking of Aaron, throughout the competition he was repeatedly reminded to stop mumbling and to stop turning his back to the camera.  For the pilot he still had not mastered his lessons.  Though the show has improved a little over the years it still isn’t on many people’s list of favorites.

That isn’t a problem for Mauro as he’s a natural born entertainer.  Though he may not have the culinary skills of other season seven contestants like Whitney Chen or Justin Balmes at the same time he’s no Chris Nirschel.  Jeff’s cooking prowess is more than adequate for this show as he has ample technical proficiency to go with his creative flair.

Here’s how Food Network described the Sandwich King in a press release from Monday:

On his new daytime show, Mauro broadens his inspired sandwich resume as he takes Food Network viewers on a delicious odyssey, preparing dishes inspired from some of his favorite local restaurants around his hometown of Chicago, such as the Peoria Packing Butcher Shop and the Isaacson & Stein Fish Market. Whether he is satisfying his cravings for a Chicken Steakhouse Sandwich served on a crusty buttered French bread, a Chicken Vesuvio Sandwich on a French roll with peas, mushrooms and more, or a pressed panini taken to the next level – a Mortadella and Fig Focaccianini; Jeff adds his own twist to each dish – delicious proof that a sandwich is so much more than the sum of its parts.

So there’s the set-up now let’s take a look at the execution.

The first thing that jumps out is that parts of the show were shot on location at a beef stand in Chicago, Johnnie’s Beef.  That’s a nice touch; it was very Triple D-ish.  These Star premieres are usually done on the cheap.  Not so here.  In fact, there’s a great polish on the episode.  The camera work is very interesting with an unconventional angle here or there.

Jeff for his part is just what we came to expect during Star – warm and energetic.  He threw in the requisite stories that Bob and Susie love so much.  He also demonstrated a little food knowledge during his presentation.  He commanded the camera.  Though there were no full on belly laughs, Jeff did manage a handful of one-liners worthy of a chortle.

For a first episode it was extremely good.  I especially like how Jeff showed the viewer how to make both a classic recipe and one that was new and cutting edge.  If Food Network isn’t careful they may just have a hit on their hands.

Among the recipes in episode one is a homemade giardinara to go with the Chicago style Italian beef sandwich that Jeff did in the Comedy Roast episode.  But the shining star was the Mortadella and Fig Focaccianini.  I mean come on, figs and a fatty pork press meat?  How do you not love that?  The recipe for that bad boy is below or you can get all of the recipes from the premiere of Sandwich King HERE.  Be sure to check out my interview with Jeff HERE.

Mortadella and Fig Focaccianini
Recipe Type: Sandwich
Author: Jeff Mauro
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 55 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 4
From the premiere of Sandwich King.
Ingredients
    FIG SPREAD:

  • 2 cups dried figs, stems removed and halved
  • 3/4 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
    SANDWICH BUILD:

  • 4 squares focaccia bread
  • 8 ounces Italian sharp cheese, such as Fontinella, or asiago, sliced
  • 1 pound mortadella, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil, for brushing
Instructions
    FOR THE FIG SPREAD:

  1. Bring the figs, 1 cup water, balsamic and sugar to a simmer in a small pot.
  2. Simmer until the figs rehydrate and the liquid reduces and thickens, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Once cool, place in a food processor and puree until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds.
    FOR THE SANDWICH BUILD:

  1. Preheat a griddle over medium-low heat or heat a panini press.
  2. Slice 1 focaccia square in half. Place a thin layer of the fig spread on the inside of both halves.
  3. Place a couple slices of cheese on the bottom, and then place 4 ounces mortadella on top.
  4. Close and lightly brush the bread with olive oil. Griddle the sandwich until golden and warm, about 4 minutes a side.
  5. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  6. Grab daintily with one hand and bite like a maniac.

July Fourth Recipe: The Big Tex

Armed with a box of aFire Coconut Charcoal (available at amazon) and a brisket that is just simply too damned big, Stuart shows you how to make a Texas style Po’ Boy with smoked beef, onion marmalade, extra sharp Vermont white cheddar and a taste of BBQ sauce. This is part of iFood.tv’s Summer Grilling Series. So take that.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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