Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Baked Sammich

Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything that lends itself to more variety and creative adventure than a baked sandwich or, as we call it around here, sammich. It is plentiful, it is delicious, it is beautiful. On top of everything else, it's fun to make.

The first version I ever tried was a baked Reuben ... which you might want to remember next month when Saint Paddy's Day rolls around. (More about that in a bit.) In those days, I always thawed out a loaf of frozen bread dough to do the deed and that is still a viable option, especially if you don't have time or inclination to whup up your own batch of dough. On the other hand, the dough recipe that follows is quick and easy and lends itself to the joy of inspired seasoning.

DOUGH: I used my trusty Kitchen Aid stand mixer and dough hook for this. In the bowl, put 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion, 1 package (or 1 tablespoon) yeast and 1 tablespoon softened butter. Mix together, then add 1 cup warm water. (Or warm vegetable, chicken or beef broth.) Start out slow and mix until you have a ball of dough that cleans the bowl. Plop dough out on lightly floured or greased surface, cover, and let rest for about half an hour. (I didn't have any Italian seasoning so I used some Mrs. Dash. Whatever suits your fancy is fine, I'm sure.)

FILLING: Here's where you have the real fun because the filling can be any doggoned thing you want it to be. Today I went for a vaguely Mexican chicken filling. That constitutes one layer of refried beans, one layer of chicken breast, minced to "hamburger" consistency, quickly sauteed until just done, seasoned to taste, and a final layer of shredded cheddar cheese. If I'd had any on hand, I could have tossed the cooked chicken with just enough enchilada sauce to coat it. I made the refried beans from scratch so they already contained minced onion, garlic and peppers. If you're using canned refried beans, you might want to add a layer of sauteed onion, etc.

ASSEMBLY: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease large cookie sheet and, with greased hands, take dough and press it out into a rectangle to cover the sheet, Down the middle third of the dough, spread a layer of the refried beans. On top of that, spread a layer of the chicken. Top everything off with a layer of shredded cheddar cheese. (Or a combo of colby jack.)

Now take your kitchen shears or a knife and cut each outer third of the dough into strips. Gently pull each strip over the top of the filling in a criss-cross or chevron pattern after folding over each end. Put in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

That's what I fixed today although, looking at it now, I realize I was fairly sloppy with the braid. It can be done neater, really. The Reuben filling, should you wish to try it, consists of a layer of rinsed and squeezed sauerkraut, a layer of shredded corned beef and a layer of swiss cheese. Even folks who think they don't like sauerkraut find they like this. Oh -- before you put any of the filling in, spread the center third of the dough with thousand island dressing.

Let's see -- tropical filling -- a layer of mashed sweet potato, layer of shredded chicken and layer of crushed pineapple, topped with shredded cheese of choice. (Or use shredded pork and very chunky applesauce.) Italian filling: layer of garlic mashed potato, layer of marinara tossed meat of choice, topped with shredded fresh mozzerella or pecorino or parmesan. How about a base layer of really thick chili, then a layer of hamburger, then a layer of cheese?

You can, of course, layer in sliced tomatoes and onions and all kinds of wonderful veggies, slathered with dressings of choice. Just make sure whatever meat you use is already cooked. Depending on what they are, some veggies could probably be pre-cooked also. You'll be able to figure out which ones require that to come out done after a 20-minute session in the oven.

You get the idea. Have fun, don't be afraid to take chances and try wild combinations and enjoy every bite of the finished sammich. I am.


Jo said...

Dee, I have to say that I love your food creations. I must admit I haven't tried any of them but I did copy and paste the recipe for your Caribbean Stir-Fry and your Texas Sheet Cake (from long ago) to my recipe collection. That one I'm waiting to have on my deathbed because I'm sure I'll have such a sugar high from it that I won't come down off it.

John Bailey said...

That's a great idea, Dee -- thanks!

b said...

You just have to make my mouth water before breakfast don't you? :-)

Mage said...

Dear you........for those of us who have worn out hands and no Kitchen Aid, could you experiment with versions that require no yearst doughs? She asks humbly having no hands and no Kitchen Aid.

Dee said...

Jo: I'm not surprised about the Texas Sheet cake. It IS to die for. (smile)
John: You'll have to let us know which version you try -- or enlighten us with your own invention.
Bonnie: Are you kidding? A chunk of it WAS my breakfast!
Mage: Oh gee. What to do? Are you referring to quick breads? Because those still require mixing. See, this is why a bread machine is so wonderful. It does all the hard work.

Dee said...

P.S. for Mage: Hey! Here's where you take advantage of the frozen bread dough. Once it's thawed, you can pretty much do anything you want with it without doing damage to your hands. Does that help?

Anonymous said...

I remember that very first Reuben, Miss Dee. I made one then also and still use the basic recipe over the years. Anon E. Mouse says thanks for the cheese too ... be well Miss Dee.

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