I grew up in the Midwest in the 1970s, so my formative years were filled with tuna-noodle casserole (with de-rigueur potato-chip topping); meatloafmashedpotatoesandpeas (and yeah, it was pretty much one word); bone-in chicken breasts, baked, with paprika sprinkled over; macaroni and cheese; and pork chops. With applesauce. For special–like Christmas Eve–we had green olives wrapped in bacon and broiled, Vienna sausages, and pinkish-yellow port-wine cheese with Ritz crackers.
Is it any wonder that I eventually became a foodie?
“Eventually” is the operative word, though, because for a long time I subsisted on Diet Coke, beer, Pepto Bismol, and the deep-fried appetizer sampler platter at whatever local bar I drank the beer at. Oh, and Marlboro Reds.
Even now, now that my cupboard is stocked with red quinoa and dulse and amaranth and turbinado sugar and flax seed, now that I make my kids’ mac-and-cheese with whole-wheat, high-protein pasta, and pureed cauliflower hidden in the sauce, I still have a weakness for the high-carb, cream-of-soup-filled, fried, mayonnaise-covered foods that hearken back to my youth.
Enter the fried bologna sandwich.
For my money, there is little in this world that is as guiltily, greasily, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouthily scrumptious as fried bologna with mayonnaise and iceberg on soft, yielding white bread. Tater tot casserole comes close, but that takes a lot more planning, and turning on of the oven. Garbage plates fit the bill nicely, too, with the additional appeal of hot sauce, but that requires driving (which, as you might imagine, is somewhat out of the question by the time I get the fried-bologna hankering). So, when there’s bologna in the fridge as a start-of-the-school-year treat, fried bologna it is.
So not a recipe, but if making fried bologna isn’t in your DNA, like it apparently is in mine, you might need some pointers:
- Make sure your bologna doesn’t have the little papery rind thing on it. Ew.
- Cut the pieces in half, then make little slits perpendicular to that cut. I believe that this helps prevent curling in the pan, but it could very well be akin to the ol’ ends-of-the-ham legend.
- Fry. No, you don’t need oil. But if you’re paranoid, or have non-nonstick pans, a spray of Pam wouldn’t hurt.
- Don’t let it burn (like I did). Unless you like things burnt (as Long Suffering Husband, bless his heart, claims to, when I overcook things).
- Turn it with a fork. I don’t know why, just because that’s easiest. And the way my Mama did it.
- Pile the cooked bologna on a piece of squishy white bread that you’ve piled iceberg lettuce onto. Arrange according to your OCD level.
- Top with another piece of bread, spread thickly with mayonnaise.
- Do penance.
Not sure if this counts for or against me at this point, but all I had on hand was double-fiber, multi-grain blah blah bread. And organic lettuce. And mayo made from our chicken eggs. Despite those abominably healthful touches, it was still delicious, and I still felt guilty afterwards.
But not that guilty.