Fried Bologna Sandwich

There are some things you just have to do when presented with the opportunity:

  • Stand up and scream when your team scored the winning goal in overtime.
  • Blow on a cut that stings.
  • Kick your way through piles of leaves on the ground.
  • Foot race your dog in a field.
  • Put your bare toes in Lake Superior.
  • Watch your kids climb a rock wall in the woods.
  • Scramble up behind them.
  • Hug your dad and stepmom really tightly before leaving for the fourteen hour drive home.
  • Walk outside in high winds just because you can.
  • Eat a fried bologna sandwich with yellow mustard on white bread.

Say what? No, really!

If you dangle a piece of plain old bologna in front of me, it’s likely to activate my gag reflexes. Let’s be honest, it’s not the most appetizing looking stuff, is it? But if you fry it in a pan, pop it on some white bread and slather on yellow mustard? Well, you’ve found one of my guilty pleasures: The Fried Bologna Sandwich.

When you fry a slice of bologna, it changes the texture from wet and mooshy to crisp and chewy. There’s nothing fancy, elevated or chic about this sandwich. It is simply comforting and delicious. While these sandwiches show up on many Midwestern and Appalachian diner menus (and I have called both regions home), I grew up eating these at my own dining room table as a treat.

Since the ingredient list is so short (just three!) I figure the enjoyment of the sandwich is based on technique. Now don’t worry. I’m not going to go all Thomas à Keller on the classic bologna sandwich; I’m just going to give you a couple tricks to enhance your enjoyment of the sandwich.

  1. Use the thinnest slices of bologna you can get that will still hold together. Thick cut bologna kind of whiffs it here. Deli bologna or the stuff that has a first name will work very well with slightly different results.
  2. Cut some vents in the slices of bologna to keep them from pouffing up in the center. Center pouf keeps that part of the bologna from crisping. Very sad. Trust me. My dad likes to cut an “x” in the center. I do one slice from the center to the outside edge (as in the radius of the circle. Dang. Did I just Keller this by saying that?) I find that one cut it makes it easier to do step five but either way will do the job.
  3. Don’t bother with oil, butter or margarine (you shouldn’t ever bother with margarine anyway, but I digress…) Have you seen the fat content on the bologna package? On second thought, don’t look at the fat content on the bologna sandwich. Just trust me, you don’t need to use fat in the pan.
  4. Actively ignore the nutritional content label on the bologna.
  5. Use whatever white bread you like. I used my homemade semolina bread and it was outstanding. Got something more “wonder”ful in mind? Go for it. I like it best untoasted, but there is room for debate there. Step away from the multigrain and health nut breads for this would you? It won’t change the fact that we’re eating a fried bologna sandwich, so let’s all just stick with the white bread for now.
  6. As soon as the bologna has been fried on both sides, immediately -and I do mean immediately- grab the bologna with a pair of tongs and pile it onto your bread. I like to hold it above the bread and let it fold itself as I lower it and slightly twist it. It gives a sandwich loft. (Shoot. There I go again.) Going quickly from pan to bread allows the bread to absorb some of that tasty, salty grease. Yes. I said tasty grease.
  7. Do not. I repeat do NOT use fancy mustard here. This is a job for grade A yellow mustard. Or grade B. The point is, don’t muck around with cranberry or horseradish or grainy mustard on this sandwich. You will regret it if you do.
  8. Accompany this with an icy cold something: root beer, water, milk, or beer.

Above all else, enjoy it. Is it indulgent? You betcha. It’s calculated to make you smile. What do you say? You want a sandwich?

Fried Bologna Sandwich
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
There is nothing fancy about this simple, hearty comfort food other than its near magical ability to put a smile on the face of anyone who eats it.
Ingredients
  • Per Sandwich:
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 2-5 slices bologna (depending on how stacked you want your sandwich and how thick the bologna is.)
  • yellow mustard, to taste
Instructions
  1. Make a cut from a center point of the bologna through the outer edge of the slice. In other words, kind of give your bologna slice a Pacman mouth.
  2. Lay your bologna in a cold, heavy frying pan and turn the heat to medium.
  3. When the pan is fully heated and the bologna starts to show signs of browning around the edges, flip over with tongs or a fork. Continue cooking until well-browned on the other side.
  4. Pile the bologna onto one slice of the waiting bread. Repeat with any bologna that didn't fit in the pan the first time (you don't have to wait for the pan to cool off, just keep in mind it will cook faster.)
  5. Spread yellow mustard on the remaining slice of bread use it to top off the sandwich. Slice in half and serve immediately.

Comments

  1. Kimberly says

    It never occured to me that other people DIDN’T grow up eating fried bologna sandwiches. Wow. And you’re right on every count: no fancy mustard, no healthy bread, un-crisped bologna is sad. I like it that you make your bologna look like Pac Man characters! But now I know that you came from a rich, snooty, well-to-do family because you got MANY pieces of bologna on your sandwich. We only graduated to having more than one piece per sandwich when we grew up and started cooking them for our own families!

  2. Becca says

    I am so glad it’s not just me! I WILL NOT eat regular bologna, but I love it fried. Now I’ll have to try it with mustard, something else I don’t normally eat (I save it for corndogs).

  3. maxie says

    I grew up on the West Coast, but still loved fried bologna sandwiches as a kid. While you don’t want to use any foo-foo mustard, Gulden’s spicy brown is perfectly ok. Actually, it’s preferable in my FB sandwich.

  4. Winnie Dolderer says

    Oh my…I love fried bologna! We used to eat in on the weekends for breakfast as a treat…I don’t like yellow mustard, but I use Dijon and LOVE it. Thanks for the memory..I must buy some to fry up.. I can’t eat it at all without cooking it.

  5. Marvleen Hollenbeck says

    One of my secret guilty pleasures!! Lived on fried bologna sandwiches as a child and have not had one in so long!! I will be making a special trip to buy bologna at my Wegmans’ grocery store tonight and then baking your 1 hour white sandwich bread to serve it on. My husband is away on a work trip so perfect timing!!

  6. Valerie says

    I know this is not exactly in the spirit of the thing, but I was eyeing some mortadella at the Italian deli a few days ago, and I’m just sayin’….

  7. JerryMe says

    Try it with crisp iceberg lettuce – not for the nutritional value, obviously, but more for the crunch factor. YUM!

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