NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
July 2, 1998
Preaching experimentation is one thing, but I bet some of you may be thinking I'm advocating culinary blasphemy. How can a salad become a sandwich? Easier than you might think. Substitute creamy coleslaw for the sauerkraut and you've got a Rachael instead of a Reuben. Think about it: corned beef, Swiss cheese and coleslaw sitting between two slices of crusty rye bread or pumpernickel. It works for me, especially if the coleslaw dressing is a little heavy on the mustard, like a sassy honey Dijon.
When it comes to sandwich making, it should be "anything goes" because the sandwich was the invention of obsession. You see, John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, liked to spend much of his time gambling in London pubs. In fact, Montagu's gambling took priority over eating what was considered at the time to be a proper English meal. I've searched the Internet to find information about the Earl, and the stories vary. One says he asked a pub owner to put some slices of meat between two pieces of bread. Another account says the Earl would eat only bread and meat dishes when he gambled.
Well, there you have it. Both eating meat and eating a "dish" between two pieces of bread would seem to qualify for the aristocracy of sandwichdom. If you still have doubts, might I point to the obvious: tuna salad, ham salad, egg salad, turkey and chicken salad ... and the less obvious, the California burger. If that's not a dinner salad sitting on top of a ground beef patty, I don't know what is.
And of course, California is home to one of my favorite salads. An original of the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, the Cobb Salad is ambitiously complex with its blend of greens, cheese, fruits and meats. Sound intriguing? I watched Julia Child prepare a Cobb Salad years ago on her TV program, so this version of the salad is how I remember Julia doing it.
The base of the Cobb Salad is a finely chopped mixture of iceberg lettuce, romaine and chicory. The centerpiece is bite-size chunks of poached chicken breast topped with crisp crumbled bacon. On both sides of the chicken are rows of diced ripe tomatoes. Beyond the tomatoes are chunks of avocados that have been dredged in either lemon or lime juice or rice vinegar to maintain color. To complete this array of toppings are the outside rows: a mixture of chopped eggs, crumbled blue cheese and minced green onion. A vinaigrette dressing is the perfect flavor-enhancing accompaniment to the Cobb Salad, as if it needs any. I like to add a splash of Dijon mustard to the vinaigrette I use.
Now, how does that salad translate into a sandwich? Here's what I came up with. Need an incentive to try it? Remember this: an earl is a rank in British nobility below a marquess and above a viscount. But no matter how you slice the Cobb Salad Sandwich, it rules.
Cobb Salad Sandwich
Yield: 6 servings
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have soaked overnight in a lemon-pepper marinade
6 pieces Canadian-style bacon
6 slices extra-sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup guacamole, preferably homemade
1/4 cup chopped eggs
1/4 cup minced green onions (optional)
6 tomato slices
about 3 cups shredded romaine lettuce
6 kaiser rolls
Drain marinade from chicken. Put marinade into a saucepan, bring it to a boil for several minutes and use as a basting sauce. While the marinade heats, pound chicken breasts slightly to flatten and arrange in baking dish that's been sprayed with cooking oil. Place bacon on top, and spoon some of the hot marinade over. Bake in 350 F oven for 30 minutes, basting occasionally with marinade to keep meats moist. Remove from oven, place cheese on top of breasts and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. As chicken bakes, mix the chopped eggs into the guacamole; add the green onions only if guacamole is onion-free. Serve the chicken-bacon combo on rolls with tomatoes, shredded lettuce and about 2 tablespoons of the guacamole mixture per sandwich.
What's Your Take on This, Julie?
Not only does the sandwich have a colorful history, but sandwiches in general can be made in infinite varieties. This sandwich is packed with flavor and nutrition and would make a delicious entree for families on the run. Most of the preparation can be done the evening before. A Cobb Sandwich provides nearly a quarter of the recommended daily amounts for iron and calcium, and an ample amount of the B vitamins.
At 500 calories and 21 grams of fat per serving, be sure to complete your plate with fresh or canned fruit or a side salad to balance the fat content. Cheddar cheese contains about 9 grams of fat per ounce, and guacamole can contain a high amount of fat and calories. For those who are watching calorie and fat intake, try a lower fat cheese or use less guacamole. You could also substitute fat-free salad dressing for the guacamole.
A low-fat source of protein, chicken is especially high in niacin, a B vitamin used in energy production. The safety of chicken, however, has been questioned lately due to a little known bacteria, Campylobacter. More food-borne illness outbreaks occurred in 1996 due to Campylobacter than any other type of bacteria. The symptoms resemble the flu and can persist for several days. For the elderly, very young or infirm, the illness can be life threatening.
To reduce risk, wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before beginning to prepare food and after any interruption. Save some marinade that hasn't touched the chicken to use as a sauce or boil for several minutes any marinade that has been in contact with raw chicken and then use it as a sauce.
Cook chicken breasts thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 165 F using a meat thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, be sure that the meat is white throughout and the juices run clear. Avoid cross contamination by cleaning and sanitizing cutting boards and utensils that have come into contact with chicken juice. A solution of 1 teaspoon of bleach per quart of water is recommended. Immerse cutting boards in this solution for a minute and allow to air dry.
No one should fear chicken if they keep these precautions in mind. Just enjoy a flavorful, nutritious sandwich that's fit for a king.
Sources: Dean Hulse (701) 231-6136 & Julie Garden-Robinson (701) 231-7187
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