Getting creative with sandwiches isn't difficult

2013-08-28T00:00:00Z 2013-08-29T15:22:05Z Getting creative with sandwiches isn't difficultCarrie Steinweg Times Correspondent
August 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Move over peanut butter and jelly. Say goodbye to cold cuts on white bread. August is National Sandwich Month and it’s time to show your creative side when it comes to that classic lunchtime meal of meat and condiments between two slices of bread.

These days, a sandwich can make a meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be cold. It can be warm. It can be toasted. It can be grilled. Anything goes as long as it can fit between the bread.

At Foodie’s Market Café in Dyer, owner Cathy Cameron has at least 20 sandwiches on the regular menu in addition to the one or two off-the-menu specials available each day. Using a variety of artisan breads and wraps, quality meats and cheeses, fresh vegetables and homemade sauces and dressings, she gives her customers options that are familiar and some that are a little more unexpected.

The Reuben is one of the most popular sandwiches, made the traditional way with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a homemade Thousand Island dressing on marbled rye bread. However, another popular item is what is called the Farmer’s Market Panini, which uses a mixture of seasonal grilled vegetables, including zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, onion and mushrooms. It goes on multi-grain bread with a house-made roasted red pepper sauce.

One of the rotating specials is a Cuban Panini with slow cooked pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on country white bread that is buttered and grilled.

Cameron said about half of the sandwiches on the menu are grilled versions. When it comes to cold sandwiches, the most frequently ordered is the turkey on pretzel bread with Swiss cheese, sweet mustard, lettuce, tomato and red onion, called a “Top Drawer Tom.”

A sandwich you might want to experiment with that has a fun twist is the “Horseshoe.” It’s a regional dish in Springfield, Ill. where you can pick it up at places like the Dublin Pub and D’Arcy’s Pint. However, you can also visit 6 Degrees in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood to give one a try. Owner Ann Keefner is originally from that area and added the beloved Springfield sandwich to her menu.

Basically, it is a tall, open-faced sandwich that begins with a layer of Texas toast and is topped with the meat of your choice, then topped with fries and cheese sauce. Grilled veggies (like green pepper and onion) are optional.

At 6 Degrees, you can order a Horseshoe with two meats ($12) or its smaller counterpart, the Ponyshoe with one meat ($8). Meat options include hamburger, turkey burger, grilled chicken, ham, Italian beef, pulled pork or Buffalo chicken. There’s also a vegetarian option with zucchini, mushroom and onion. It is then topped with their signature Welsh rarebit cheese sauce and fries.

J.P. Roe, of Lansing, is an outdoor cooking enthusiast who shares recipes and grilling, smoking and barbecue tips on his Facebook page, Big Guy BBQ Chicago. Rowe suggests using your grill to take your sandwiches up a notch, using it to grill meat and to warm breads.

A member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and the National Barbeque Association, pulled pork with barbecue sauce is a frequent sandwich in his house. He also combines seasonings to put rubs on his meat the night before cooking and also likes to add extra flavoring to mayonnaise, such as fresh garlic, to give his sandwiches an extra layer of taste.

Not sure where to start in making a renegade sandwich? A simple mayonnaise can be transformed with such add-ins as lemon juice, dill, garlic, capers, pickle juice, chives or freshly-ground pepper. You can also add great flavor using sauces and dressings, as well. Add a scoop of fresh salsa or slather on some barbecue sauce or take it a step further and make your own.

Cameron’s advice to making a good sandwich is to start with good bread. Most of the sandwiches made at Foodie’s are made with Labriola Breads, which she said “is probably the best artisan bakery in Chicagoland. Turano and Gonnella are good products, too.”

Try the following recipes.

The Big Guy’s Almost Famous Chicken Sandwich

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Bacon – 1 slice per sandwich

Shredded cheese or slices – one per sandwich

1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise

3 to 4 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried, chopped Thyme

1 teaspoon dried, chopped oregano

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt

Fresh cracked pepper

Sandwich rolls

Iceberg lettuce

Sliced tomato

Butter or margarine

DIRECTIONS: Start the night before by mixing up dry rub for the chicken breasts. Mix equal parts of the onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, and oregano. If you can find it, a brand called SPICE CLASSICS, sold in most grocery stores, offers a premix shaker of “Italian Seasoning” which is the perfect mix of the thyme and oregano. Trim chicken breasts of any unwanted fat oR skin if needed. Rub the chicken with the dry mixture and refrigerate overnight. Next, take enough mayonnaise for each sandwich that you intend to make, and add the minced garlic. Mix about two or three cloves or more if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat your grill for direct grilling (350 degrees) leaving a cool spot. While the grill heats up, precook your bacon and let cool (can use microwave bacon.) Next lightly butter and toast buns on a griddle like you would a grilled cheese sandwich and set aside. Slice your tomato and rip your lettuce if you like slices or shred if you prefer. Once preheated, grill your chicken until cooked thoroughly. You want the chicken to reach an internal temp of 165 degrees. Sear the chicken on both sides. I prefer a slice of apple wood smoked cheddar or Colby-jack. When the cheese is melted, it is time to build your sandwich. Slather some garlic mayo on the bun, a slice of lettuce and tomato, and two strips of bacon, all on top of your grilled chicken.

Source: J.P. Roe

Barbecue  Pork on Buns

2 pound pork loin roast, boneless

1 onion, chopped

3/4 cup cola carbonated beverage

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

8 sandwich buns

DIRECTIONS: Combine all ingredients except buns in a 4-quart slow-cooker; cook, covered, on high for 5-6 hours, until very tender. Drain and slice or shred pork; serve on buns with additional barbecue sauce, if desired.

Serves 8

Source: National Pork Board (

BLT Club Sandwiches

12 strips bacon, cooked

12 slices whole wheat bread

1/2 cup mayonnaise, reduced-fat

4 leaves lettuce

2 large tomatoes, cored, each sliced into 6 slices

DIRECTIONS: Spread 1 slice bread with 1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise; top with a lettuce leaf. Spread 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise on each side of another bread slice; place on lettuce. Top with 3 slices tomato and 3 strips bacon. Spread a third slice of bread with 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise. Invert bread on bacon and press down gently. Cut each sandwich in half or in quarters.

Serves 4.

Source: National Pork Board (

2 pound pork loin roast, boneless
1 onion, chopped
3/4 cup cola carbonated beverage
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
8 sandwich buns

Cooking Directions

Combine all ingredients except buns in a 4-quart slow-cooker; cook, covered, on high for 5-6 hours, until very tender. Drain and slice or shred pork; serve on buns with additional barbecue sauce, if desidered.

Serves 8

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