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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Kitchen Call: Sandwiches for manly appetites

  • Fortunately, there’s such a thing as “guy food.”  Hearty and filling, it can be eaten without utensils while watching a game on the flat screen or at the ballpark, or at an unadorned, preferably outdoor, table with only the benefit of a roll of paper towels.

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  • It’s general knowledge that most men don’t crave brunch. A preferred Sunday means lingering in sweats with the Sports page or crossword, or watching a game without interruption.
    In a perfect world, no man would be required to put on a jacket and tie, sit in a noisy, crowded dining room or stand in line to get a slice of rare roast beef. Neither would he be required to stand in front of a grill trying out his new grill tools in the hot sun all afternoon.
    Fortunately, there’s such a thing as “guy food.” Hearty and filling, it can be eaten without utensils while watching a game on the flat screen or at the ballpark, or at an unadorned, preferably outdoor, table with only the benefit of a roll of paper towels. 
    Barbecue is thought of as the essence of guy food. But naked fire is not a defining requirement of this food genre. Guy food can be a piling up of delicious ingredients between layers of bread. 
    But no dainty stuff. All ingredients, starting with the bread, needs to be robust. A thick roll. Or a dense loaf. Enter two manly favorites: the Cuban or Havana. And the Sloppy Joe. 
    A piling of meats and cheese, spread with ballpark-style mustard and filled out with pickles, the Cuban sandwich has gained popularity over the last few years. 
    Migrating from that island just south of Miami, it was found only in Florida.  Now, any self-respecting city hosting a major league franchise offers the classic and a few variations on the theme.
    The Cuban or Havana requires fresh roasted pork. Buy a pork roast, 5 to 6 pounds.  Place in a baking dish, half a cup each of lemon and orange juice, 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, a few slices of yellow onion, and a teaspoon or two or oregano, besides a little salt and pepper.  Roast it for 20 to 30 minutes per pound in a 350 oven.  Then slice it against the grain for the sandwiches.  Preferably this is warm, but not necessarily.
    A brick is an essential utensil for this sandwich.  Scrubbed clean and wrapped in a double thickness of aluminum foil.  This is used for weighting the sandwich while it heats in a heavy — cast iron, but not necessarily — skillet.  The brick makes all the difference.
    The Sloppy Joe is a brawny, gloriously messy, version of the school cafeteria specialty.  The Joe may require a utensil, but it should be a large spoon, not a puny fork, to shovel up any beef that escapes the bread. 
    Some food historians romantically believe The Joe hailed from the same city as the Cuban.  It supposedly made the trip across the water from one to another establishment where a messy bartender presided over lunch. 
    Page 2 of 2 - Eventually, a prominent Baltimorean opened his own, much neater, bar featuring the sandwich.  The other version is it had always been available somewhere in Iowa, known somewhat unimaginatively as a “loose meat” sandwich. 
    Whatever the origin, the homemade version needs some hot sauce and, for good measure, cheese on top, melting from the heat of the main ingredient. The updated version below incorporates chilies in adobo sauce for extra heat, optional for less adventurous palates. 
    Either way, use big fat burger rolls, not those puny things packaged in a plastic bag.
    CUBAN
    Makes 1 large sandwich, serves 2 to 4 depending on appetites
    1 loaf Cuban (Italian, Salaio) bread, cut in half lengthwise
    yellow mustard
    3 dill pickles, cut in 3-4 lengthwise slices
    5 slices boiled or baked ham, thinly sliced
    2 slices Cuban roast pork, sliced
    3 slices Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
    Mayonnaise, optional
    1. Spread mustard on bottom slice. Place 4 pickles on top of the mustard; place cheese on top of pickles.  Place ham slices over pickles.  Place slices of roast pork on top of ham.  Spread mayonnaise evenly over top slice.  Join both halves of the sandwich, pressing down.
    2. Grill sandwich, in sandwich press or weighted down with a brick in a skillet, pressing sandwich down until top turns golden and cheese melts, 5 to 7 minutes.  (For a large batch, place sandwiches on baking sheets; cover with foil and weight down.  Place in 350 oven.)  
    3. Remove sandwich; slice diagonally from corner to corner to serve.
    SLOPPY JOES
    Makes 10.
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup finely diced onion
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    2 pounds lean ground beef
    1 cup tomato paste
    2 2/3 cups tomato puree
    1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
    1 teaspoon pureed canned chipotle in adobo
    10 hamburger buns
    10 slices cheddar cheese
    1. In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat.  Add onions; cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes.  Add garlic; cook for 30 seconds.  Add ground beef; cook until well-browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
    2. Add tomato paste, tomato puree, chili powder, Tabasco and chipotle.  Stir until blended.  Raise heat; bring just to the boil, then reduce to low.  Simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to spread on a sandwich about 45 minutes.
    3. Heat broiler.  Slice rolls open; place under broiler until lightly toasted.  Ladle 1/2 cup of the beef mixture onto bottom of each roll. Top with cheddar cheese. Return bottom halves to broiler until cheese melts.  Top with remaining halves.  Serve hot.
    Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com. Read Linda’s blog at LindABCooks.wordpress.com. Follow Linda for quick recipes on Twitter at @Kitchencall.
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