So, you’ve arrived at a website that features tested recipes for lobster, crab and aged beef … with other tried and true methods for cooking with exotic ingredients like Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal — and bologna.
Before you disregard this tried and true cured goodness, just know that bologna is the only lunch meat that most auto-fill word processors actually capitalize. (Yeah, they also capitalize turkey, but whatever.) My bologna has a first name. And a second name (sometimes). My favorite bologna also has an ampersand, but you probably couldn’t care less.
Bologna was a regular part of my childhood for a handful of reasons. For starters, it was cheap. I also liked it. But, most importantly, my dad liked it so there were always packages of bologna in the refrigerator … until Friday at least, when he would take all the remaining slices in the package and place them between two pieces of white bread and eat it as a week’s end snack. That Friday afternoon nosh was more important to him than I could have imagined.
‘If you won a million dollars,’ I once asked my father, ‘what would you buy?’
Without hesitation, he answered ‘If I won a million dollars, I’d buy myself a ring of bologna.’
I’ve mentioned here that my father grew up in the cotton fields of north Texas. There were nights that he went to bed without dinner. And his bathroom was beyond the back door of his shotgun-style shack, with nary a roof.
A ring of bologna was a big deal to him.
I did a little cooking as a child and fried bologna sandwiches were an occasional fave. While some people prefer to slice a small triangle from the slice to prevent the dome that happens in the skillet, I preferred the meat helmets that formed when the heat met a bologna slice. The quintessential fried bologna sandwich includes white bread and mayo. I made my version with mustard and processed cheese. It tasted best with a side of potato chips and a dill pickle.
I still like the mustard and fake cheese these days, but I also like to grill my bread — in the fat rendered from the fried beef bologna. Ah, sweet Southern comfort.
Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way about this delicacy.
And my friend Shea Goldstein at Dixie Chik Cooks believes that my version is … a little outdated. Indeed, her modernized version of the Fried Bologna Sandwich is divine. You can decide which one you’re more comfortable with, but we’d appreciate your input either way. (I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve, despite what you see in my ‘Bologna’ video.)
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Old School Fried Bologna Sandwich
- 2 - White bread slices
- 2 - American cheese slices
- 3-4 - Beef bologna slices (or 6-8 shaved bologna slices)
- Yellow mustard
- In a medium-sized frying pan, fry bologna over medium heat until browned around edges, about 4-6 minutes. Place on paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Spread desired amount of mustard on both sides of bread (I like a lot).
- Place cheese slices on same side of bread (or one slice on each side, if you prefer).
- Add bologna to the middle.
- Assemble sandwich and place in hot bologna fat. Grill until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side.
- Serve with potato chips and a dill pickle spear, if you want to feel all of the love.