National Bologna Day: Circa 2013
Quote for Today: No matter how thick you slice it, it’s still Bologna. TJ
Today is National Bologna Day and over the last few years the Bologna I’ve eaten has not been very memorable. I think it is the fact that I’ve been buying the least expensive pack on the shelf. You know the one, the off brand for $.79 where you peel off the fake red casing around each slice. You slap it on two pieces of Wonder Bread with imitation sliced cheese , maybe some mustard and mayonnaise and call it a sandwich. Of the eight million pounds of Bologna eaten in America each year, I assume most of it gets eaten this way.
Bologna of some form has been around since the 1400‘s. There are many kinds of Bologna: Kosher, beef, German, Polony in South Africa, Saucisse de Lyon and even Rag Bologna which is native to West Tennessee. There are some regions in the United States that revere this delicious sausage and it is even making its way back on restaurant menus all across America. Here are a few of them.
Payne’s BBQ Sandwich
Payne’s BBQ – Memphis, Tennessee – In Memphis, people have been swearing by the BBQ Bologna sandwiches at Payne’s for years. There is good reason, Payne’s takes a 10 lb Bologna, cuts it in half, then slow cooks it over charcoal along with the ribs and pork butts. It is then sliced thick and smothered in Payne’s BBQ Sauce. Once on the bun, it is covered with their mustard slaw and ready to go. I asked Candice Payne how many they served and she replied “I don’t know, a lot.” Her brother Ronald said it was about 1 out of 5 customers. So when in Memphis, forget about Beale Street, head for Payne’s .
G & R Tavern
– Waldo, Ohio – This neighborhood place in between Cleveland and Cincinatti celebrated its 50th Anniversary last year. Even though Waldo only has around 350 residents, people come from miles away for their great food, especially the Bologna. Beef and pork Bologna with a hint of garlic is served sizzling off the grill as a sandwich with Monterey Jack Cheese, Sweet Pickles and Onions. Put mayo or mustard on it if you like and you are hooked. Another good choice is the Country Boy, a cheeseburger between two thin slices of Bologna with tomato and onion. Sounds like the ultimate Juicy Lucy to me. I hope the folks at Matt’s Bar or the 5-8 Club in Minneapolis don’t get their feathers ruffled over this.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
– New York, New York – Momofuku Ssäm is part of Korean American Chef, David Chang’s empire of restaurants. This man’s delicious and creative food never ceases to amaze people. You can get everything from Smoky Mountain Country Ham to Honey Crisp Apple Kimchi. If you go for the all duck lunch, and it’s available, try the Duck Bologna Sandwich. Unbelievable.
Bowl and Barrel
– Dallas, Texas – Chef Sharon Hage turns Bologna into a pretty upscale sandwich. She starts with a hefty portion of Rudolph’s Old School Bologna then turns it into a melt with Muenster and homemade mustard on rye with a side of BBQ Quinoa. Other items of interest are the Devil’s on Horseback – Crispy Bacon Wrapped Medjool Dates stuffed with Maytag Blue Cheese and the Ghost Pepper Peanuts – Spanish Peanuts with sea salt and a dusting of the world’s hottest chili. This modern American Tavern serves great food and drinks with the added bonus of allowing you to bowl a few strikes at the same time.
Dead End BBQ
– Knoxville, Tennessee – In East Tennessee slang, the Bologna Sandwich is sometimes referred to as the “Lonsdale Ham Sandwich”, named after some guy from England, long story. The one place to get one is at Dead End BBQ, winner of best Que in Knoxville 2013 by Metro Pulse. Their Bologna is slow smoked and grilled to perfection, topped with Cheddar and onion, then served with Horseradish Mustard on grilled sourdough. Sounds pretty dead on to me.
So give this long lived but not forgotten sausage another try. Buy a good one at your favorite deli counter and fix it yourself. Throw it on a smoker for a couple of hours, then slice it thick and fry it up. Finish it with your favorite cheese and condiments, then enjoy your “jumbo sammich.”
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