Ladies and gentlemen, can you imagine a world without sandwiches? That would mean lunchboxes lacking PB&Js, delis deficient in turkey-and-Swiss, Cuban lunch counters lacking the Cubano—in short, a life not worth living. Luckily, that long-ago innovator took knife to loaf, slicing bread and paving the way for centuries of handheld edible innovation, which is proudly on display in Susan Russo’s sumptuously photographed The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.
In this chunky cookbook, the San Diego–based author and brains behind Food Blogga delves deep into the sandwich universe. Smartly, she sprinkles in equal measures of history and trivia alongside the hundreds of recipes for double-handed delicacies ranging from New Orleans’ olive salad–slathered muffuletta to Chicago’s hot, juicy Italian beef—and even the Fluffernutter too.
While I consider myself sort of a resourceful, freeform sandwich maker (whatever’s in my fridge goes between two slices of bread), I was most captivated by the stories of regional delicacies such as the chow mein sandwich popular in New England and the spiedie. While the name may recall a tight-fitting swimsuit, the spiedie has its roots in spiedini: the Italian word for grilled skewered meat, seafood or vegetables. Slide the skewer into a submarine roll, and you’ll soon be eating the pride of Binghamton, New York.
Hungry yet? Try this easy, tasty recipe for one of my favorite calories-be-damned indulgences: the inside-out Jucy Lucy cheeseburger, which is the joy of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
2 pounds ground chuck, preferably 85 percent lean
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices cheese, preferably American or cheddar, cut into quarters
6 hamburger buns
Garnishes, such as lettuce, tomato, pickle slices and fried onions
1. Preheat grill to medium. Season meat with salt and pepper. Divide into 12 equal patties, being careful not to overwork meat.
2. Neat stack four quarter slices in the center of each patty and top with a second patty. Using your fingertips, seal patties together. (The patty will have a small bump in the middle from the cheese.)
3. Place patties on the grill, with the cheese-bump side up. Cook six to seven minutes, flip and pierce sides with a knife to let steam from the cheese escape. Cook another six to seven minutes. Remove burger from grill. Serve on buns and top with your choice of garnishes. Let cool slightly before eating.