We love all the crazy national food holidays. It gives us a chance to talk with our fans and customers about a variety of foods, from the unique and odd to the every day and traditional. This month it’s National Sandwich Month and National Panini Month. So we put our culinary thinking caps on and put together this guide to all things sandwich. We hope you’re hungry because we’ve gone way beyond PB&J!
The Earl of Sandwich
The concept of the sandwich is so simple: something between two pieces of bread. In essence, it’s a portable meal; no utensils required.
According to Larousse Gastronomique, sandwiches first came about because John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, was so into his gambling that he would order cold meat between two slices of bread and have it delivered to his gambling table rather than leave the table to eat. Although the concept of meat between two pieces of bread pre-dates the earl’s predilections, the eponymous term came into use in the early 19th century.
Although it seems a simple concept, when you consider all the various combinations available, the humble sandwich provides boundless opportunities for mixing, matching, and melding different ingredients. Slices of bread or a roll? Wheat, Italian, rye, pumpernickel, sourdough, multigrain? Turkey, roast beef, ham, pastrami, corned beef? Hot or cold? And then there’s the cheese and the condiments and the vegetables…
Of course, the typical idea we all have of a sandwich is meat and cheese between two slices of bread. But if you let your mind wander a minute, you might find yourself daydreaming about a filled roll, such as a po’ boy, a submarine sandwich, or a lobster roll. There are also multi-layered sandwiches, such as clubs. Open-faced sandwiches, such as Leon’s Great Open-Faced Steak Sandwich. And don’t forget cooked sandwiches, such as pressed panini, melts, and grilled cheese.
Muffaletta is a classic American sandwich that has its roots in New Orleans. Some say the only place to have a Muffaletta is at Central Grocery on Decatur Street (where you’ll find it sold under the spelling variation Muffuletta). The key ingredients are Italian cold cuts such as salami and ham, provolone, and olive salad on a sesame seed-topped Italian bread roll. Some variations might include Swiss cheese, pepperoni, capicola, or (specifically) Genoa salami.
Grilled cheese seems so simple, but when we went looking for sandwich inspiration on Pinterest, we couldn’t believe all the incredible, sophisticated variations we found on this kid-associated classic. Well beyond white bread and American cheese, we found photos of such unique concoctions as jalapeno popper grilled cheese, which features whole jalapenos, shredded jack and cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and crumbled tortilla chips (to simulate the popper breading). We also found a photo of a fusion of two classic Americana hot sandwiches: sloppy Joe grilled cheese.
We also discovered that grilled cheese has a great affinity for bacon. (But really, what doesn’t?) Some notable variations are grilled cheese with bacon and maple mustard; bacon, pear, and raspberry grilled Muenster cheese; garlic-rubbed grilled cheese with bacon and tomatoes; and broccoli, bacon, and mustard seed and ale cheddar cheese.
Check out our Great Sandwiches board on Pinterest for more ooey-gooey inspiration.
A Cuban sandwich, or Cubano, is a mouth-watering experience of ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickle, and mustard all melted and mingled together when the whole thing is pressed in a hot sandwich press. We have a recipe for this Miami-area favorite that uses our Smoked Spiral-Cut Ham, Boneless Center-Cut Berkshire Pork Roast, and Tracklements Horseradish Mustard. We originally published it as part of a Super Sunday menu, but we think it’s great any time of the year, in any part of the country! Get the recipe.
A club sandwich is a multi-layered sandwich that uses three slices of bread. The most common iteration is a turkey club made with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. But as with any other type of sandwich, the variations are as limitless as your imagination. Martha Stewart has a recipe for a Southwestern Turkey Club, for example, that includes fresh mashed avocado with lime juice and pickled jalapenos. Or you can try a Cobb Club Sandwich with grilled chicken, bacon, blue cheese, and avocado. Take a departure from poultry with a Roasted Pork Club with Scallion Mayonnaise.
Bacon. Need we say more?
Well, we will anyway. The BLT is another classic, and variations can include toasted or not, various flavors and varieties of bacon, flavored mayonnaise, and varieties of lettuces and tomatoes. In our search for BLT inspiration, we found a few interesting takes on this sandwich, such as a three-way sandwich mash-up called a chicken parmesan BLT hero. Our favorite was a southern-inspired take on the “T” in BLT that used fried green tomatoes rather than ripe, red slices.
Although the origins of this sandwich are debatable, its deliciousness factor is not. A Reuben is corned beef piled on rye bread with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing. The whole thing is then toasted, grilled, or pressed and served warm. Of course, we think the best Reuben is made with our USDA Prime Corned Beef Brisket, the most incredible corned beef we’ve ever tasted.
Filled sandwiches are essentially sandwiches served on a roll, though they also encompass such favorites as stromboli. Depending on where you live, filled sandwiches might be called heroes, submarines, or hoagies.
Aside from what they’re called, further geographic variations exist. A Philadelphia favorite bears the city’s name: Philly cheesesteak. This thinly sliced steak is smothered in melted cheese and sauteed onions and served on a hoagie roll. A po’ boy is a New Orleans filled sandwich typically featuring fried seafood—often shrimp—served on French baguette. From the Northeast comes the lobster roll, chopped lobster meat with mayonnaise served on a New England-style hot dog bun.
Of course, at Lobel’s, we are partial to a simple, delicious steak sandwich that showcases the naturally occurring flavors of top-quality beef. That’s how we came up with the not-so-revolutionary concept of the steak sandwich we serve at Yankee Stadium—it’s just USDA prime dry-aged beef cooked to perfection and served in its own juices on an onion roll.
Of course, any incredible cut of beef can make an incredible sandwich. We recommend our USDA Prime Dry-Aged Minute Steaks or USDA Prime Tenderloin Steaks for a great sandwich. But skirt steak, flat irons, center-cut sirloin, and flank steak are also good choices. And for a non-steak beef sandwich, try boneless short ribs or smoked beef brisket.
Find more inspiration on our Great Sandwiches Pinterest board!
What’s your favorite type of sandwich? Do you get fancy when you make sandwiches or keep it simple? Do you prefer making your own sandwiches or getting them at a deli or restaurant? What’s the best restaurant or deli sandwich you’ve ever had?