It’s 11 p.m. on Saturday. I’ve just returned home from a 14-hour workday, which included hosting a local radio show and, of course, managing and cooking at my family’s restaurant.
Most people would think I have the greatest life in the world. I get to be around Italian food all day long and have access to so many products.
I’m not going to disagree but I’m going to let you in on a little secret my friends. Sometimes you get a little tired of looking at the same food every day and you just want to be a regular “John Doe” and enjoy a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a fried bologna sandwich.
That’s right, I’ll admit it right here. I enjoy both late night along with potato chips and a pop tart right out of the toaster to finish. Did I mention an ice cold root beer to go along with this?
Now a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is as simple as can be. Three ingredients and that’s about it. Yes, you can put some sliced bananas and even potato chips in the middle but it still remains fairly simple.
But let’s talk baloney. Did you know that Oscar Mayer reports more than 2 billion sandwiches are made with its brand of bologna per year.
Fried bologna? That’s a whole different ballgame. There is a lot of history to the sandwich and after a recent Sunday Facebook post asking my friends what they thought about a fried bologna sandwich, you would not believe the hundreds of responses. The truth is out, and I’m not the only one who loves a good fried baloney sandwich.
Ahhhhh … baloney!!! Or do you say bologna? It doesn’t matter to this chef. Our family friend Paul Silvio re-introduced this lunchmeat delicacy to me a few months ago when he dropped by a whole stick of balogna one day at our restaurant.
It wasn’t long before I was shaving thin slices and putting it in between a couple of slices of Wonder white bread with American cheese. God forbid I put mayonnaise on this because Paul would disown me. Add a slice of tomato and perhaps a few pickle slices and I was good to go for lunch.
The following morning I thought I would treat myself to some scrambled eggs with fried bologna pieces and soft cream cheese, a favorite of mine that my Nana would prepare whenever I slept over at her home. Great memories. I rank this right up there with her famous cream cheese dip and her fried hotdog slices with scrambled eggs.
Now about this fried bologna sandwich business. Not only is this a Southern delicacy found on lunch counter menus, I also found that it is on the concession stand menu at the Cincinnati Reds stadium. In some cities they call it a “redneck steak” or a “minor’s steak” and in the old Northeast section of Kansas City, Paul tells me they used to call bologna “Italian chicken.”
I put up a few more posts on other Facebook pages asking friends what they thought of a Fried Baloney sandwich and received hundreds of comments.
Shannon Gaines Bowman posted that it’s embarrassing how much she likes fried bologna. I just love that comment!
My good friend Gregg Frost, Vice President of Operations for Hen House Markets, tells me “fried bologna in a cast iron skillet on white bread with plochman’s yellow mustard got me and my roommates thru KU. The perfect late night snack. What a great college memory!”
Carrie Habib on Facebook’s KC Foodies wrote: Get really good, all beef bologna from the deli, have it sliced thick, at least 1/4 -inch, cut 4-5 notches around the edge so it doesn’t curl up. Fry in a little bacon grease and use the softest, squishiest white bread you can find slathered with mayo (or as my Mother always served it with Miracle Whip). Potato chips on the side. Perfect lunch or lazy dinner. This exact meal was the talk of my family reunion in the Missouri bootheel last year. My Aunt Leda Fay still talks about it occasionally on Facebook! I am the official fried bologna cook for the family.
Jeff Brown on Kansas City Eats suggested this: I fry mine in bacon grease. Thick sliced, red ring bologna. Two pieces in the pan. Stack em when done with a piece of American cheese in between. White bread with Miracle Whip. Depending of what’s on hand, lettuce, tomato, and sweet pickles. Served with Fritos.
Also on Facebook Kansas City Eats Carlton Logan wrote: Old school. Thick cut. 3 or 4 slits around the edges. Fried in butter. 2 slices between 2 slices of white bread with mayo. No cheese. Just meat and bread.
On Facebook KC Foodies, Chuck Baldee wrote: When I was in Boy Scouts many moons ago this was a MUST on campouts … we used to call them “Astrodomes” because of the shape.
And lastly, Briana Pace on Facebook KC Eats: I went to a school in a small town in Nebraska almost 20 yrs ago. They made fried bologna with a scoop of mashed potatoes in the middle with melted cheddar on them. It was sooooooo good
The recipe for a good fried bologna sandwich is very easy as you can see. Just make some slips in the bologna, fry until a little black char appears and place in between two pieces of white bread with your favorite condiment. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, salt and pepper, pickles, cheese, fried eggs, and even jalapeños. American cheese for sure. It’s that simple. And did I mention a heavy black cast-iron skillet is essential?
And there you have it, a simple sandwich that I really think everyone will love, full of memories and traditions.
As for me, I’m on the way to the store right now to stock up on some more bologna and white bread. A huge thank you to Paul Silvio for the inspiration for the story and of course the enjoyment of such a simple lunchmeat.
Now go get some baloney and white bread and enjoy the day!
Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 62-year-old restaurant with his brother. Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.