Last week, I was telling you about the best sandwich ever. I was in the process of making it when I had to cut this short. I’ll now pick up exactly where I left off…
So I found an onion. What better to go on this stackable, ever-growing feast than thick slices of onion, also cooked in bacon grease. I just needed one more thing to bring it together. This is when I found a jar of pickled, assorted hot peppers in my fridge.The jar was pretty old, in fact I believe it had come to me in a gift basket several years ago from someone who didn’t really like me, but was put in a position where they felt obligated to give me something.
I wasn’t overly concerned with the age of this jar because the liquid these peppers were stored in gave them a shelf life of approximately infinity times three. This jar of peppers would far outlast Buzz Lightyear, but not Keith Richards. It would just be him and a bunch of freakishly oversized talking cockroaches sitting on a bamboo raft in the middle of the ocean eating these peppers.
So I plucked one each of four different varietals of hot peppers from the jar, and continued with my preparations. For some reason, I was not concerned in the slightest with the rust ring around the inside of the lid and top of the jar. My ulcer has been acting up lately, so I did take care to separate the stems and seeds from the peppers. I guess that’s about as close as I come to listening to a doctor. Ah, what do they know? A little internal bleeding is nothing more than a last second condiment for a good meal.
The flat top was getting hot, and I dumped approximately a full cup of bacon grease on it. Now it’s time to start putting this baby together. Let me point out at this time that both the hot dogs and the bologna were ALL beef. There were no cowardly underachieving ingredients or substitutes of any kind. There was no chicken, turkey, soy, tofu allowed in my kitchen for this project. And the only pork was the heavenly smelling rendered swine fat that all of this deliciousness was about to be cooked in. Somewhere, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, and a doctor of internal stuff each just spontaneously combusted.
I’ll now walk us through the prep work that my Mona Lisa on bread entailed. First, I grabbed my two super thick slices of bologna. I scored them with a knife about half way to the center at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions. Now, this an underused technique and a veteran move preventing the bubbling affect while cooking. If you’ve ever had call to cook any sliced, circular, encased meat products in this fashion, then you are aware that the center tends to bubble up and lose contact with the cooking surface, while the edges get burnt. A couple of quick, short slices with your knife and this problem is alleviated. You’re welcome.
Next come the tall and sexy Nathan twins. With the same knife, I sliced them each down the middle length-wise. Not all the way through though, just enough that you can open them like a book, and cook them on a flat surface evenly without them rolling. Now I sliced the onion, about a ¼ inch thick. I was going to stop at half an onion, but thought better of it and sliced the entire orb of aromatic goodness. I think at this point, given the list of ingredients on this epicurean leviathan, any concerns about my subsequent facial fumes as I attempt to procure a kiss later on in the day are pretty much out the window.
Next, I got four slices of individually wrapped, processed, yellow American cheese food. I had at this time, no less than 7 different varieties of expensive, very high end, and delicious cheeses in my refrigerator. They each have their time and their place. Just not on this particular sandwich. I arranged the slices of cheese-like substance in stacks, two-deep of four pointed stars. This configuration would provide maximum coverage once the cheese is melted atop the bologna. Everything was now cooking on the flat top, together sending my nasal passages, and taste buds into sensory overload. Not since the birth of my youngest child had I anticipated the completion of something with such excitement.
I placed the two slices of potato bread in the toaster. They didn’t require a full browning, but a light toasting was absolutely necessary for this project. It was simply to change the texture and porous properties of the bread to accommodate the inevitable greasy sogginess that was to ensue. I very briefly entertained the idea of using mayonnaise as my binding agent/ condiment of choice. However my omnipresent concerns about my cholesterol intake caused me to think better of it. Yeah, right. It was health concerns that made me lean towards mustard, not the fact that it’s complete blasphemy to put mayo on a Nathan’s hot dog. No sir! This masterpiece required not only mustard, but mustard that was artificially colored with yellow number gotta-be-carcinogenic. Nobody ever pulled up next to me at a light in the back of a Rolls Royce, rolled down their window, and asked for this crap. But ‘of course’ it was perfect for this mission.
As this ballet of awesomeness danced about on my flat top, I had a look that I can only imagine was on Dr. Frankenstein’s face as he uttered the words: “it is aliiiiiiive!” Just seeing, and smelling this celestial concoction was almost enough to make me start smoking again, just so I would have something appropriate to do after I’d eaten this sandwich.
All ingredients were perfectly cooked, and it was now time to stack and construct the sandwich. I had taken great pride and care through this symphony of gourmet delights up to this point, and I wasn’t about to cut corners on the actual construction. I meticulously applied each layer of my culinary Sistine Chapel with the care of a Parkinson’s patient playing Jenga. Once the stacking was complete, I reached for a large kitchen knife to cut it in half. I caught myself just in time though. I honestly believed that a sandwich like this would be insulted if I had cut it. No way man, this one was to be consumed whole, and square. I actually apologized out loud to the sandwich. I’m not even making that up.
Now I had to prep myself, and my table for a meal of this magnitude. This was NOT just any sandwich. This was a life-changing experience about to take place. Instead of a placemat, I actually spread out some newspaper on the dining room table as if I were about to eat crabs, or deliver a baby. I skipped right over a napkin, and wisely brought an entire roll of paper towels to the table.
The sandwich required no chips, pickle, garnish or accompaniments of any kind. Anything other than just this sandwich on a plate would have been a slap in the face to it. As I walked to the table, I’m pretty sure I heard a chorus of angels and some harp music. I set the plate down on the table, and prepared to indulge, but something just didn’t seem right. For reasons I didn’t understand at the time, and still can’t comprehend as I complete this story, I felt oddly driven to eat this sandwich shirtless. So I did. I don’t know if it were something so transcendent and meaningful that I’m just not deep enough to grasp it. Or, that I just needed to have the full white trash experience so I had to ride it out to the end.
I ate this sandwich with a joy that my vocabulary is not vast enough to apply a label to. I’m not yet aware of a word that could appropriately describe my feelings. With each and every bite I took, an angel earned its wings, a fairy dodged death, a healthy child was born somewhere in the world, a unicorn sprouted a horn, and a Nicholas Cage movie was sucked into a paradoxical worm hole, and erased from all of our memories as if it had never existed.
For the next several minutes, time seemed to stand still as I enjoyed possibly the greatest sandwich of my life. I completed every last bite of the sandwich and actually retrieved one more slice of potato bread to sop up the drippings from my plate, forearms, and chest. I wanted none of this to go to waste. I got up and walked away from the table as happy as I’ve ever been and headed in the direction of my bedroom. The only way to follow a meal like that is with a short nap. I climbed into bed, and the moment my head hit the pillow, the word “Daddyyyyyyyy” was being bellowed through the monitor subsequently waking the other baby. No nap for me, but it was still a great day. One that shall forever live in infamy as the day the most epic lunch ever was created.
Thanks for playing along.
Until next week,