Get out the confetti and noisemakers! Friday is National Sandwich Day, the food named in honor of the Earl of Sandwich, a culinary innovator and expert multitasker.
Few topics drum up as much debate as sandwiches. Is a grilled cheese better than a BLT? Is a club sandwich superior with chicken or turkey? And dare it be asked: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
What makes a sandwich a sandwich?
Bridget Lancaster, host of the popular cooking show "America's Test Kitchen," says sandwich is an "umbrella term" — a catchall phrase, so to speak — for different styles of sandwiches.
"A classic sandwich will have a filling between two slices of bread," she says. "It's portable, self-contained, and you probably won't need a knife and fork to eat it. But then you get something like an open-faced sandwich, which is often very saucy or hot and is eaten with a knife and fork."
So really, a sandwich is what you make it: one slice, two slices, baked, broiled, grilled in butter or served cold for tailgating or camping this autumn.
"Depending on the filling and the bread, a sandwich is suitable for any meal during the day," Lancaster says.
So here's a grilled cheese quite different from those we enjoyed as a child. After all, we're all grown up and ready for something different — a sandwich with a little more kick to it, thanks to aged cheddar, or old cheddar like you'll find at Aldi. The sandwich has a touch of white wine, too, that gives the recipe title a new name: Grown-Up Grilled Cheese. Add some Dijon to give it some spice and you have a brand new adults-only grilled cheese, though the alcohol will burn off as the sandwich grills, so not to worry if the kids want some, too!
America's Test Kitchen Grown-Up Grilled Cheese
7 ounces aged cheddar cheese, cut into 24 equal pieces, room temperature
2 ounces brie cheese, rind removed
2 tablespoons dry white wine or vermouth
4 teaspoons minced shallot
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 slices hearty white sandwich or rosemary bread
Process cheddar, brie and wine in a food processor until a smooth paste is formed, 20 to 30 seconds. Add shallot, and pulse to combine, 3 to 5 pulses. Combine butter and mustard in small bowl.
Working on a parchment-paper-lined counter, spread mustard-butter evenly over 1 side of the 4 slices of bread. Flip 4 slices of bread over, and spread cheese mixture evenly over slices. Top with remaining 4 slices of bread, buttered sides up.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Place 2 sandwiches in skillet; reduce heat to medium-low; and cook until both sides are crispy and golden brown, 6 to 9 minutes per side, moving sandwiches to ensure even browning. Remove sandwiches from skillet, and let stand for 2 minutes before serving. Repeat with remaining 2 sandwiches. Makes 4 sandwiches.
Note: Sandwiches can be held on a wire rack on a baking sheet in a 250-degree oven while the second round cooks.
If you'll be shopping at The Fresh Market today through Dec. 31, you'll have the opportunity to round up your total to the nearest dollar to benefit Feeding America, the specialty food retailer's annual holiday campaign.
The hunger relief organization, the largest in America, uses such funding to help feed people facing hunger during the holiday season. Officials say nearly 34 million people experience food insecurity in the U.S., including more than 9 million children.
A single dollar can help provide at least 10 meals on behalf of local partner food banks, which include the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. All 161 Fresh Market locations are taking part. Of the funds collected, 90% will go to a local partner and 10% will go to the Feeding America national organization.
"The holiday roundup campaign is part of The Fresh Market's ongoing commitment to making a positive impact in the communities we do business," said Jason Potter, president and CEO of The Fresh Market. "The holiday season is all about giving, and we want to make a difference. By simply rounding up their purchase, our guests can help support people in accessing the food everyone deserves and provide meals for those in need, making their holiday season a little brighter."
PORK CHOP GRILLERS
A customer favorite at Bojangles is back for a limited time. The Pork Chop Griller, released every fall, is a tender slice of pork loin rubbed with a blend of chili peppers and seared to perfection. It's served inside a fresh buttermilk biscuit made by a certified biscuit maker.
"When it comes to our seasonal menu items, the Pork Chop Griller is the ultimate fan favorite," said Marshall Scarborough, vice president of menu and culinary innovation at Bojangles. "We have customers constantly asking when this seasonal delicacy will return to our restaurants, and who can blame them? The Pork Chop Griller is perfect for any occasion, whether you're looking for some weekend comfort food or simply trying to spice up your weekday commute."