Monday, August 6, 2012

Italian Club Sandwich

Look For the Silver Lining by Marion Harris
We're talking about looking for the silver lining today.  Jerome Kern and B. G. De Sylva wrote a song about such optimistic thinking for a musical called "Zip, Goes A Million," which, was, oddly enough, an unsuccessful production.  Many people have recorded the song since, Judy Garland being the most well-known.  However, being as I'm a big fan of "Downton Abbey," I couldn't resist using Marion Harris' recording.  Her rendition plays while Lady Mary and Matthew are dancing and discussing their "flop" of a relationship and, well, fellow fans know what "silver lining" happens next!  It's a good policy, you know, this silver lining hunt.  It gets you through all sorts of unfortunate happenings - like defeating, crushing losses in beyond-bitter cold stadiums.

Years ago, I went to Missoula, Montana to watch my Weber State University Wildcats play the University of Montana Grizzlies.  Weber State lost - actually, we were crushed.  But, you know how they tell you to always find a silver lining?  Well, this Italian Club Sandwich was the silver lining from that trip!

Upon arriving in Montana, my husband and I were met by bitter cold temperatures and knew we were going to need reinforcements to add to the bulk of winter clothing we already brought with us.  We headed over to the Missoula mall and made our way through the sea of maroon and silver to purchase thermal shirts and pants, battery-operated socks, and, for me, a new pair of boots that would be large enough to hold all the socks I was planning on wearing!

While at the mall, we stopped for lunch at a little place that seemed to be getting a great deal of attention.  You ordered your lunch at the counter then found a seat and they brought your selection out to you.  When I was close enough to the case to see what the fuss was about my eyes were immediately drawn to "THE SANDWICH."

I recognized brilliance right away.  It was a beautiful large round of focaccia bread, with herbs and various toppings scattered across the top - flavor baked right into the crust.  
The focaccia was sliced horizontally so the top lifted right off - think hamburger bun.  They then layered deli meats and cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, and dressing on the bottom half then replaced the top.  To serve the sandwich, they sliced the large round into wedges, like you'd slice up a pie, and secured each wedge with a pic to help keep it all together.  Not only was it beautiful and clever, it was beyond delicious!  

I've never forgotten the devastating loss of my Wildcats that day - but I haven't I forgotten that sandwich, either!  It took me awhile to figure out how I could recreate the masterpiece myself.  All I could find in the stores were rectangular focaccia loaves and, while that would do, the round cut into wedges was such a spectacular presentation, I was really hoping for spectacular over satisfactory.

Then, one day, it occurred to me to make my own focaccia bread and shape it however I wanted!  I found a recipe with which to work and took it from there.  You can use the square or rectangular breads from the store, the flavor is still wonderful.  It's a great crowd pleaser and makes entertaining a breeze.  I'll be sharing my focaccia bread recipe real soon, but, in the meantime, have yourself an amazing club sandwich.  This is my version!
Italian Club Sandwich
serves 6 - 8
Printable Recipe Card
One loaf focaccia bread
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. Avocado and Arugula Pesto, or any store-bought pesto
1 lb. thin-sliced turkey
1/2 lb. provolone or mozzarella, sliced thin
pepperoni slices
1 head romain lettuce, washed and drained
2 tomatoes, sliced thin
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Handful of arugula
8 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Slice your focaccia bread horizontally and lift off the top and set aside.

Mix together the mayonnaise and the pesto until well-combined and spread generously across the cut sides of the top and bottom focaccia halves.

Start assembling your sandwich by placing the sliced turkey around the bottom half of the bread, giving it a fold and being sure to keep a fairly even height of meat.  Just use enough meat to give you an even coverage.  You don't want to build a "hump" into the center of the sandwich, requiring jaws to become unhinged in order to take a bite!

After the turkey, you can place the sliced cheese, pepperoni, lettuce leaves with tips pointing to outside rim, tomatoes, basil and arugula, bacon, then topped with a sprinkling of the parmesan cheese.  Replace the top of the bread and slightly give a push down across the top to help things stay together.

At this point, you can either place the food picks in and then slice between the picks to get your wedges or cut and then place the picks.  It's usually easier to secure with the picks first, being careful to place the picks evenly - think of a clock.

There are several variations you can make:  adding roast beef slices, or olives, or banana peppers - really, it has endless possibilities!


  1. Yes Please! Do you deliver?

    1. We might be able to come to some sort of arrangement - if you live within, say, 100 miles of me! But I have a sneaky suspicion that you live closer to my sister, who happens to be a wonderful cook! You should hit her up for a demo of this delicious sandwich! Thx for stopping by and reading!