There are few things nicer than paying Mom an unexpected visit and finding the well, mother of all sandos placed before you on the kitchen table.
Or plucking off your boots after clearing a path to your girlfriend’s car in a snowstorm, only to discover something that’d cost 15 bucks at a Times Square deli waiting for you.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to whip up a killer sammie all by your li’l ol’ self. And the following nine are fundamental.
1. Grilled Cheese
No, I’m not setting the bar low; in fact, I’m about to implore you to have some ambition. Take the cheese, for starters. Make this sucker a three-cheeser, melding Swiss, American and provolone all together betwixt two happy pieces o’ buttered rye. Maybe add some pickles or bacon while you’re at it. The point is, ya not only do gotta be able to make one of these, but ya gotta be able to get a little creative with it too.
These days you don’t even have to fry up the bacon, buddy. Hormel and many others have prepackaged bacon stacked at your grocer, and you simply have to microwave it for a few seconds. And I do mean a few. The assembly lies in the acronym: bacon, lettuce and tomato, of course. It really is that simple. Mayo is up to you, and feel free to get funky with the bread selection.
3. Steak ’n’ Cheese
Like with the BLT, there’s a shortcut if you’re so inclined: Steak-umm sliced steaks. But a nice pounded-out, well-seasoned minute steak is your best bet here. Grilling a slice of onion or pepper, or maybe even a couple of washed mushrooms is a way to take it to the next level, but it’s not necessary. With some salt, black pepper and cheese melted directly onto the steak simply by putting a lid on it for half a minute, you may as well be in Philly.
To so many it’s a given that anyone can whip up one of these suckers. Not so. It’s all about proportion, especially when it comes to the fluffernutter. Marshmallow fluff is considerably thicker than the jelly in a PB&J, so unless you enjoy choking a sandwich down, a little goes a long way. You wanna lay low on the jelly too; too much of that can easily overpower the peanut butter, plus makes for a heck of a messy, sloppy sammie. In either case, the PB is the star of the show.
Nobody’s asking you to be Bobby Flay here. I’ve no tips for you involving how long you’re to press down on the patty, or that you should only flip it once. I’m not even necessarily talking about going the grill route, either. I’m taking about being able to patty some ground beef together with your hands, have it hold together come flip time and not be so red on the inside that you hear “moo” for days.
6. Cold Cut Combo
Not all cold cuts are meant to go together. Slapping some salami together with roast beef will leave you wanting—and your taste buds wondering if they’re really your buds after all. A little salami, some ham, some turkey, with a nice slice or two of Swiss, and you’re on your way. Sure, lettuce and tomato can be considered, as can dabbing some oil and vinegar, but to each his own.
7. Pastrami on Rye
Don’t break out in a sweat! Put a pat of butter in a frying pan, spin the dial to no more than five, and that pastrami will fry up so quick you’ll be dumbfounded. That being the case, if you are going the onion route (which most sandwich aficionados would tell you was a must here), ya gotta do the onion first. It’ll take a few minutes for it to start playing along, becoming pliable and juicy. That’s when you add the desired amount of pastrami. Again, the cheese (which really should be Swiss, although I have done American) gets melted on thanks to popping the lid on top while the rye is in the toaster. Mustard is optional as far as I’m concerned.
8. Egg Sandwich
You really can’t lose here. In a properly greased frying pan you can go for the perfect crack, but if it goes awry, or the whole thing goes up in smoke when you attempt to flip it over, you can just proceed to scramble that sucker. Add a dollop of milk, melt some cheese and call it a day. Bits of ham or turkey in there are always a crowd pleaser, and it can come on anything from toast to an English muffin to a bagel. Whatever happens, say you meant to do it.
9. Post-Thanksgiving Gobbler
I mean, you’re dabbling in leftovers now. The hard work’s been done. Take that tender, left-over turkey, slap it on a plate, scoop some stuffing on top of it—and even cranberry sauce or sweet potatoes if you desire (not me)—and heat to your liking. Melting cheese on top is an option, though purists would scoff. Transfer the whole thing onto a hard roll, Portuguese roll or even hamburger roll, and you just might find yourself enjoying this little feast more than the one that led to it.
Photo: iStock/Getty Images Plus/Robert Kirk