Monday, February 25, 2008

The Ugly Sandwich

Let's get this over with. The sooner we face up to the truth, the sooner we can put the shock behind us. While we may certainly treasure gorgeous photos of fabulous food (aka Food Porn) and while we may understandably cringe to see the above abomination, we will be strong and, more important, we will refuse the shallow path of superficial judgment.

What I'm saying here is, that may be the ugliest sandwich you've seen in a long time but appearances are deceptive, you can't judge a book by its cover, blah, blah, blah and assorted other similar cliches.

It started when I got to thinking about the possibilities of enjoying a Monte Cristo sandwich, which is basically two kinds of meat, plus cheese, dipped in batter and deep fried. Except I really don't much care for deep frying. Although it certainly would have photographed well. All that golden crust, you know. I could have chosen to fry it in butter in a skillet. That would have been photogenic, too, with its golden lacy pattern cooked into the coating. Heck, I might have even cooked up a face I could have sold on ebay.

No, I decided I wanted to bake the darned thing. Even then, I could have baked it on a buttered cookie sheet, thus probably enabling the batter crust to develop that appetizing golden glow. But if I was going to butter the cookie sheet, I might as well fry it in the skillet, right? So I chose to bake it on one of those silpat pan liners of woven silicone, my defense against having to buy parchment paper for greaseless baking. And the sandwich baked up quite nicely, with the innards piping hot and the cheese all gooshy and melty. It just didn't have the healthy glow, like a high-dollar sun tan. It looks more like it's been a cave dweller for a long time. A Gollum sandwich. Preciousssssss.

I was able to overlook the less than appetizing appearance of my ugly sandwich because, after all, I had engineered the rather lovely content, which, I'm happy to report, lived up to my expectations with room to spare.

I would have spread the slices of bread with cream cheese, had I had any. Lacking that delight, I slathered on a generous amount of mustard instead. Then came a layer of thinly sliced smoked chicken breast, a layer of cranberry bliss (more about that in a minute), a layer of sliced cheddar and finally a second layer of chicken. Traditionally, ham would be the second meat but you go with what you've got, right?

Anyway, I toothpicked the sandwiches together (I made two of them), sliced each one in half kitty-cornered, dunked them in an egg and milk and flour batter that was generously seasoned with Mrs. Dash chipotle and baked them in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes. Carefully turned each sandwich half over and baked them another 10 minutes.

I cut each of the halves in half again, thus you see the mangled results on the first sandwich in the photo above. Didn't bother doing that with the second sandwich, which I had for a later meal. They tasted wonderfully scrumptious either way.

Oh. The cranberry bliss. I have these dried cranberries that I just love. I also like to rehydrate them with various fruity-flavored liqueurs. Today I took a small saucepan and plopped a honkin' big tablespoon of orange marmalade into it. Then I tossed in a handful of cranberries. Then a splash of peach schnapps. Just a splash. Peach schnapps has a terribly, shall we say, assertive character. Give it half a chance and it will overwhelm the other flavors. Muffle its exuberance and it provides a nice accent in a flavor blend. I mixed everything up good and cooked it on medium heat until it was all bubbly. Then I set it aside to cool. By the time it had cooled, the marmalade had begun to congeal again, holding everything together. Cranberry bliss. That tart-sweet is heavenly against the savory flavors.

So we can lay all the ugly we want on my poor old sandwich. It's performance, its very mission in its brief life, was filled with righteous beauty. Yea, verily I say unto you, there is no ugly in a satisfied tummy.


John Bailey said...

s'Funny, but it wouldn't occur to me to need to fry a sandwich of any kind -- we don't seem to do that over here. Toasted, yes, fried, no. Other than that we've caught up on creative sandwich making. Big time.

An inspiration, Dee... thanks! :-)

John B.

Anonymous said...

Looks good to me! I eat just about anything, Dee, except sauerkraut and liver. ha!

I've made note of the Cranberry Bliss - I'll be trying that!


CJA said...

All I can say is yum!! Of course, that goes for all your goodies.

Mage And George said...

As you morph into a foodie diary, I swing the other way. The more inventive and creative you grow, the less I desire to cook at all.

So we had a confab, (like that word?), and we have gone back to basics sans beef. No more beef here until I get the budget to buy grass fed. Scrambled eggs and fruit last night. Squash and a new green Waldorf I found tonight. Smaller portions.

I'll let you know if we can lose weight on normal foods.

bonnie said...

Ask my family I serve a lot of ugly stuff. Lentil soup comes to mind. :-)

~ Sil in Corea said...

My grammie used to say, "Pretty is as pretty does." By this measure, that's a darned pretty sandwich, I'd say.

Hugs from Asia,
~ Sil

Mage And George said...

Ok, ok, did the fried sandwich do you in. You've gone and done the vanishing act again. Hope you are warm, dry, and drinking good coffee in your top floor.

Julie said...

You can call that sandwich any name you want, just don't call me late for dinner! Looks yummy to me, and the cranberry bliss sounds to die for. I love any kind of sauce with tart cranberries. How do you THINK of these things? My cooking creativity has diminished throughout the winter.