Number Nine, Jus’ The Sammich

One day, when he was about 14, my oldest son wanted to stop off at a local fast food joint for some grody junk food.  Actually, as is customary for a boy his age, he wanted this most days. On this particular day, I acquiesced.

So we were standing in line behind two other local boys of about the same age.  Both had on their muddy cowboy boots, very “broke-in” hats, with their jeans tucked into the tops, and spurs still on from their ride.  Come now, people.  That’s not really the story here.  It may seem odd to you, but in my town, it is fairly commonplace.  In fact, I have seen horses tied off outside a convenience store, parked next to trucks and motorcycles, as their riders were inside procuring refreshments.  Even today’s cowpokes need to wet their whistles after some time on the dusty trail.

But I digress.  These two young cowboys were placing their order.  As it happens at most fast food restaurants, the meals are assigned convenient numbers, making it easier for kids to make the same disgusting choice each and every time they visit.  In this case, a “# 9” was a specially-sauced hamburger, fries and coke.  I have mentioned before, haven’t I, that in Texas a soda is called a coke, even if it isn’t a Coke?

So boy number one places his order, pays and moves to the side.  Uneventful, and predictable enough that the most dim of all fast food employees could handle it.  Boy number two, who we will call Billy Joe Jim Bob, for short, steps up and orders “a number nine—just the sammich”   In order to say this correctly, it is important to pinch your nose, and speak in the impossibly high pitch of a teen boy whose voice is changing.  And with a significant southern twang.

Blank stare, a moment of confusion—and I think a millisecond of sheer panic—crept across the face of the barely conscious order taker.  “The number 9 comes with fries and coke. “  Billy Joe Jim Bob responds, “I just want the sammich”  Additional blank stares and awkward confusion.  There must not be a button on the cash register that reads “number nine, just the sammich”.

Not wanting to spend more time than I absolutely must in this establishment, as I can actually feel the grease in the air, I chimed in “he just wants the specially- sauced hamburger”.  Lights from above.  Harp music.  Barely conscious teen order taker understood, and all was right with the world.  Apparently there is a button that reads “specially sauced hamburger…”

Of course the minute we got in the car, my son looks at me, and in all seriousness, and with the flawless execution of the twangy southern boy that he is, says “number 9, just the sammich”.

Okay, first of all, to call a hamburger a sandwich is really a technicality.  Burgers are really in a class all their own, and will get their own blog as soon as I can keep some around long enough to take pictures.

Secondly, I don’t like sandwiches much, even if you appeal to my southern sensibilities by calling them “sammiches”.   You won’t find me ordering up too many toasty subs, or foot-longs that cost $5.00.

I mean, in theory sandwiches are a good thing.  A meal, neatly wrapped in bread so as to make carrying and eating it a simple proposition.  That’s what the intent was when the Earl of Sandwich ordered his roasted meat to be sliced and served between bread back in the 1700’s.  He did not want to either disturb his poker game, nor get the cards greasy, so this seamed a sensible solution.  It’s really a good thing that this is how he was remembered, because the other things that he was famous for were his excessive drinking, gambling, womanizing, and devil worshipping.  What a catch, ladies!  But at least his laziness and gambling addiction led him to create the “sammich”.

My real problem with sandwiches is that too often they are wimpy.  Most of them are made with uninteresting bread, bland meat (and very little of it) and vegetables that make me snore.

There are a few sandwiches that I love.

New Orlean’s very own “sammich”, the muffaletta, made with several types of meat, and lots of it, piled on ciabatta bread, and spread with a generous quantity of olive salad.

The Ruben…Pastrami and swiss cheese on toasted pumpernickel bread, with sauerkraut and Russian dressing.  Yum.  Hot, melty, big flavors.  What’s not to love?

And my number one favorite sandwich ever—the Philly Cheesesteak.  I have made it a quasi-vocation to find the best one on the planet.  And I am not apt to choose one of the original ones in Philadelphia… Not Pat’s.  Not Gino’s….I know that seems wrong of me, and maybe a bit against the grain.  But it isn’t right, not even for the sake of authenticity, to eat cheese from a jar.

The best cheesesteak I ever had came from Delaware Sub Shop #1, at the corner of 5th and Colorado St. in Austin, Texas. And you should recognize that this is the FIRST time I have ever called a restaurant out by name, so I must be serious.   I can’t vouch for it now, as the place changed hands since, but back in the day it was the BOMB.  I have tried to recreate it to the best of my ability, and I do make a pretty mean cheesesteak…See for yourself.

Philly Cheesesteak

 

Philadelphia Cheesesteak Sandwich

serves 4

 

  • 4 hoagie rolls
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, divided
  • 1 large bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ribeye, shaved (ask your butcher)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 12 oz Provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cherry pepper relish (optional)–Cento makes a good one

 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Brush the buns lightly with butter and toast them.  Set aside.

Add remaining butter, onions and bell pepper to hot skillet.  Sautee until softened.  Layer the steak over the onions, and allow to cook a few minutes.  Begin tossing the mixture in the pan until the steak is cooked through.  Spread evenly across the bottom of the pan. Layer cheese across the top, and allow to coook for a few minutes until melted.  Turn off the heat.  Use tongs to gently remove the meat mixture to the waiting buns.  Top with cherry peppers, if using.  Serve immediately.

**if you want to try a more authentic version, substitute cheeze whiz for the provolone.  Heat it in a small saucepan, and ladle it over the sandwich.

 

Muffaletta…Big Bread. Big Meat. Big Flavor.

 

Muffaletta

serves 6

 

  • 1 large ciabatta loaf, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 pound thin sliced genoa salami or sopressata
  • 1/2 pound thin sliced ham
  • 1/2 pound thin sliced turkey
  • 1/4 pound thin sliced provolone
  • 1/4 pound thin sliced mozzarella
  • 1 12-oz jar olive salad, in olive oil
  • Mustard is optional, but mayonnaise should never touch a muffaletta

 

Lay the bread halves side-by-side on a baking sheet, on top of plastic wrap. On the top half, spread the olive salad.  You can drain off some of the excess olive oil, but not all of it.  On top of the salad, layer half of the cheese.  Then layer the meats, and end with the other half of the cheese.  Top with the bottom bun, and tightly wrap the sandwich in the plastic wrap.  Turn it over, so that the olive salad can drip down onto the meats and cheeses. Allow to sit for at least ten minutes.  Cut into serving size pieces, and serve.

 

Reuben on Pumpernickel Rye

 

Reuben On Rye

serves 4

  • 8 slices pumpernickel rye bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 pounds shaved pastrami (use corned beef if you can’t get pastrami)
  • 8 oz sliced Swiss cheese
  • 1 pound sauerkraut, well-drained
  • 1 cup Thousand Island salad dressing

Brush both sides of the bread with butter.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Place two pieces of bread on the hot skillet, and toast for a minute or two, until toasty.  Turn over.  Place 1/4th of the cheese on one piece of the bread, and 1/4th of the pastrami on the other.  Place 1/4th of the sauerkraut on top of the meat, and top with 2 tablespoons of the salad dressing.  When the cheese is melty, and the bread is toasty on the bottom, place the cheesy piece of bread on top of the other half (cheese side down, of course).  Remove to a serving platter, and repeat three more times with the remaining ingredients.  Cut sandwiches in half, and serve immediately.

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Categories: Food, humor, recipes, Texas, writing

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50 Comments on “Number Nine, Jus’ The Sammich”

  1. 2012/05/29 at 10:36 pm #

    I’m going to whisper this post or else I’ll get run out of South Jersey…but for a Texan (or a Philadelphian 😉 ), you make a REALLY good cheesesteak! Then again, I hate cheez whiz and love provolone. Betcha provolone’s what the original steak shops used back in the day.

    • 2012/05/29 at 10:56 pm #

      I know…I have to keep some of my BBQ beliefs silent….Or I would get run out of town on a rail….

  2. suzanne banfield
    2012/05/29 at 10:51 pm #

    You forgot the croque monsieur! The french perfected the humble grilled cheese sammich’.

  3. suzanne banfield
    2012/05/29 at 10:53 pm #

    We even made them for french class!

    • 2012/05/29 at 10:53 pm #

      I know…And I LOVE that sandwich. I’m dumb.

    • 2012/05/29 at 10:55 pm #

      I’ll have to do a whole blog sometime about the food we made for French class…beignets and some really, really bad jambalaya…I have to give credit for that one to my mom. And it isn’t even french.

  4. 2012/05/29 at 10:57 pm #

    Eff yes. I love a good sandwich. I want one now…

    • 2012/05/29 at 10:59 pm #

      I ain’t lyin’—the house smells AMAZING…fried meat and onions…They should make a perfume!!

  5. 2012/05/30 at 6:26 am #

    Love the story as much as the recipes!

  6. 2012/05/30 at 7:35 am #

    i love this! thanks for the laugh this morning!!!

  7. 2012/05/30 at 8:23 am #

    I’m so glad you haven’t written off all sandwiches…or sammiches…they’re good!

  8. 2012/05/30 at 9:41 am #

    I must never open your blog before 9AM or I’ll find myself in the kitchen fixing this stuff instead of working. But hey. If I’m going to play Hooky then it should be with something as delic as one of these Sammies:)

  9. 2012/05/30 at 12:26 pm #

    I regret that I just ate a really crummy luch. I would much rather have had your Philly or Reuben. I’ll even take the Muffaletta if you hold the olive spread (ok, ok, so I’m weird. It ranks right up there with bell peppers and SBRs in my book). I mentioned Cheez Whiz in my blog today….tried to make a Texadelphia Burger. Cheez Whiz is NASTINESS in a jar.

    • 2012/05/30 at 2:17 pm #

      Wait….You. Don’t. Like. Bell pepeprs? I don’t even know if I can process that….

      😀

      • 2012/05/30 at 2:20 pm #

        Just the green ones. I can tolerate the yellow, red and orange ones.

  10. 2012/05/30 at 2:17 pm #

    Aha! Now I know what a reuben is. Thank you very much!

  11. 2012/05/30 at 4:52 pm #

    Those sammiches look good. I’ll have to try ’em on my husband!
    Tennessee calls all soda ‘coke,’ too. My dad’s family is from the Appalachian region, and anytime we visit, it takes a minute for us to remember that.

  12. 2012/05/31 at 2:11 am #

    Oh! Muffaletta “sammichs” are the absolute best!

    • 2012/06/17 at 2:02 pm #

      As we prepared for our anaunl Christmas Fondue feast…it came to me! Bacon! Cut in approx 1 inch lengths…placed between the shrimp and shrimp, dipped in my famous beer batter, bacon between the onion ring and mushroom, dipped in my famous beer batter, bacon between..well you see whats happening here!! Oh glorious! buurrrppp…

  13. 2012/05/31 at 10:36 am #

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In thought I would like to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article… however what can I say… I procrastinate alot and on no account appear to get one thing done.

  14. 2012/06/02 at 10:17 am #

    I lived in Philly for a year and never once went to Pat’s or Gino’s actually I never had a Philly cheese steak when in Philly isn’t that sad? No I made my own so not so sad and not with cheese wiz ! One of my favorite sandwiches is a Cuban. My son who went to culinary School would want me to try all different foods.( I was the taste tester ) He had me try a Cuban and I loved it!

  15. 2012/06/03 at 7:40 am #

    Those are some sandwiches! 🙂

  16. 2012/06/03 at 4:47 pm #

    I would agree with you that the Philly Cheesesteak is an awesome sammich. I swear I could smell the onions and peppers just by looking at your picture. Yum!

  17. 2012/06/03 at 7:18 pm #

    That burger sammich with the special sauce sounds like good eatin as does the Philly from Delaware via Austin, TX. Imo fix me one directly.

  18. 2012/06/03 at 11:03 pm #

    Oh, THS is a real sammich post!!!! I cannot believe people call soda “coke!”

    • 2012/06/06 at 10:31 pm #

      Yep….what kind of coke do you like? Ha ha. Makes my husband nuts. He’s a scientist type, so he is more precise, but the rest of us, and much of the deep south just call them all cokes.

    • kotha12
      2012/06/24 at 11:58 am #

      Funny, people in my country call everything coke..even a soda!

  19. 2012/06/07 at 10:05 am #

    Sounds – and looks – awesome!

  20. elmediat
    2012/06/07 at 7:46 pm #

    Great post. You sammiched in a lot of information. 🙂
    While some may find it unusual to call “All soda, coke”, as someone from Ontario Canada, I have to translate soda. You mean pop. To me a soda is either soda water, tonic, or an old fashion expression for soda-pop ( which itself is very old fashion). Love the recipes and background info.

  21. 2012/06/08 at 2:29 pm #

    Waw! That Philadelphia steak sandwich looks tremendously tasty & that muffelata sandwich looks huge, tasty & well-flavoured! I can’t wait to make them!

  22. 2012/06/11 at 11:55 am #

    You do like sandwiches, good sandwiches, I get it. Run-of-the-mill-whatevers-on-bread, not so much….I’m right there with you. Greatly enjoyed the “Texas” fast food story. Living here can be a trip for sure 🙂

  23. 2012/06/14 at 3:02 pm #

    I’m a vegetarian and that Reuben sammich created a slight drizzle of spittal in the corner of my mouth. Well done.

  24. 2012/06/15 at 9:22 am #

    You say excessive drinking, gambling, womanizing, and devil worshipping like it’s a bad thing.

    I love me some Muffaletta…or anything from Nawlins

  25. 2012/06/24 at 5:33 pm #

    Firstly, I’m new to blogging. This is the first blog I’ve elected to follow. It’s wonderful! It’s beautiful! Amazing! I am so very hungry.

  26. Your Loving Husband
    2012/06/25 at 3:16 pm #

    Hey babe, can you make some cheese steak sandwiches soon? They are calling…

  27. 2012/06/28 at 5:52 am #

    hi there thanks for following mine! im having a hoot of a time reading yours! 🙂

  28. 2012/07/21 at 3:23 pm #

    Leaving aside for a moment that the mere idea of the fat content of most of those recipes makes me want to heave, why do Americans seem to have so many recipes for thinly shaved meat? It’s almost unheard of in the UK. Is it because they don’t like chewing?

    • 2012/07/21 at 7:33 pm #

      You must be terribly bored to complain about, of all things, how thinly we shave our sandwich meat. Step away from the computer and go eat something boiled and terribly bland.

      • 2012/07/22 at 4:20 am #

        You could take my comment about the fat as a complaint – though I was merely expressing a personal preference – but it was just a question about why you (and many of your fellow-countrymen) prefer many layers of thinly shaved to ‘normal’ sliced meat in recipes.

      • 2012/07/22 at 9:42 am #

        Well, that is not an easy question to answer. I don’t think it is something we give much thought to, the same way you probably don’t think about why English puddings are made with beef suet rather than vegetable fat or butter. Some things just are as they have always been. I don’t always prefer thinly shaved meat….when I am having plain ham and cheese, or roast beef, I like thick cuts of meat. But when I share recipes, I try to share the most authentic version of the original as I can, which in the case of these three, means thinly shaved meat.

        When having a sandwich that has several types of meat, such as the muffuletta, I guess we shave it so the sandwich doesn’t end up weighing five pounds. Also, thinly shaving the meat fools the eye into thinking there is a lot more meat on the sandwich than there is, which may be why so many restaurants do that..The muffuletta was created this way in New Orleans at City Grocery….

        The Ruben was created in New York delicatessens by Jewish immigrants almost one hundred years ago, and that is how they did it. Corned beef can be pretty toothsome otherwise, and you could wind up tearing up your bread and having your sandwich fall apart on you, which may be why they did it that way.

        The cheesesteak was created almost a hundred years ago in Philadelphia, as an “accident”, when a customer at a steakhouse needed something super fast to take with him. The proprietor took some thinly cut steak scraps and grilled them up real quick and threw them on a bun, and voila! The cheesesteak was born. Since I have had readers (from the U.K., by the way) ask me about the latter two, I wanted to share the most authentic version possible.

        We do also eat steak sandwiches with regular, thick cut steaks on bread or buns…roasted chicken, meatloaf, etc..

        Bottom line is, we eat them every which way, based on region, tradition, and personal preference.

      • 2012/07/22 at 10:48 am #

        OK That all makes sense. Thanks for that. Oh, and I’ve discovered it is possible to buy pre-packaged ‘wafer-thin’ sliced beef, ham and turkey in Tesco supermarkets. Amazing how these animals grow to allow 5 in square slices with rounded corners – roughly the size of a standard sliced loaf! Commercially at least, I don’t think mixed meat sandwiches have reached this side of the Atlantic yet.

        I have an idea for a blog post 😉

      • 2012/07/22 at 1:47 pm #

        Oh yes, the rounded square lunch meat…..I am pretty sure the ingredient list reads: animal by-products (read: lips and assholes), salt,red, and stuff I can’t pronounce….

        Best not eat it….
        🙂

  29. 2012/07/22 at 2:57 pm #

    I’ve given you a link in a post (http://driverrob.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/sunday-lunch-roast-beef/).

    • 2012/07/22 at 3:03 pm #

      Thanks…that’s the way we eat roast beef too… 🙂

  30. 2012/08/17 at 3:54 pm #

    It’s 6.47am here in Sydney (not really sandwich time!) but you post is making me crave a Reuben something fierce!

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