Open-faced pizza sandwich

The Poor Man’s Pizza is an excellent sandwich.


wtf where are the triangle pepperoni!? Spoiler: these are all cut in triangles but not separated. I separated them and fixed it.

A man named, Bob Petrillose, invented a sandwich that he named the Poor Man’s Pizza in 1960 before restaurant delivery was really a thing. According to an article at Serious Eats, the Hot Truck at Cornell University was the home of the PMP or Poor Man’s Pizza which was two halves of French bread with sauce and melted cheese turned into a sandwich. Petrillose started his Hot Truck in the 60’s and ran it for 4 decades, working late nights to satiate the college students at Cornell.

Petrillose was not only the inventor of a fantastic sandwich, but he was apparently also an incredible person. This article from Cornell’s quarterly magazine in 2009 memorializes his death with very touching tributes from many students during his 40-year career selling sandwiches from his food truck.

The internet claims that Petrillose’s French bread pizza concept was licensed to Stouffer’s. Because of this, I figured I’d pay tribute to the inventor of French bread pizza by making Poor Man’s Pizza sandwiches and document the process with recipes.

According to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled article), Stouffer’s started putting their French Bread pizzas in the freezer aisle in 1974. Guess who else was born in 1974? GUESS!?

“Back to the Taste You Love.”
Seems like there must have been some New-Coke-style drama with the pepperoni at some point.

Petrillose’s Hot Truck is now permanently closed, so none of us can try a Poor Man’s Pizza from the source, but we can certainly make something similar at home.

We should talk about that, but first I want to revisit the French bread pizza that you can buy at the store.

The Stouffer’s French bread pizzas

I wanted to relive my history with the French bread pizza, so I bought some and baked them and imagined living in a cramped college apartment. These taste just like I remember. Each pizza is way hotter than you’d think, with extra crunchy edges and a super soft and cheesy center. The middle part of the bread, under the sauce and cheese gets a bit soggy and that sogginess along with the super crunchy and crispy sides gives you a lot of fun textures to enjoy.

I asked the only person I know who is basically some sort of pizza genius what he thought about French bread pizzas and he had this to say:

“I have a super soft spot for French bread and bagel and tortilla pizza in all its MacGuyvered forms” … “it’s a real opportunity to heighten the textural element. Pizza’s big and soft and comforting in the form most people are familiar with. Messing around with texture can heighten a lot of the experience.”

John Carruthers – Crust Fund Pizza

Check out John’s community focused pizza project, Crust Fund Pizza. And you can still buy one of his fantastic pizza cookbooks he created for charity: Pizza for Everyone.

These are Stouffer’s French bread pizzas, just like you might remember them, baked according to the directions. The crispy, sharp edges will destroy your mouth with the combination of searing heat and crunchy crust. But the memories taste so good. Be careful.

“Pizza bread” from the store

I was looking at the prepared foods section beside the deli in my local grocery store (shout out to Cermak) and I saw they had “Pizza bread.” I had been working on this blog post for a bit at the time, so I figured I’d give it a try since I didn’t have anything prepped for lunch that day.

There were ZERO instructions, but I figured for $3.99 I couldn’t really go wrong. All the pepperonis were whole instead of the fun little Stouffer’s triangles, so I fixed that with some kitchen shears.

Stouffer’s French bread pizza technique

In my research into the Stouffer’s French bread pizza, I found this Mashed.com article “We Finally Have Stouffer’s Iconic French Bread Pizza Recipe.” In that article, they suggest that a little fennel at the end is a required ingredient that a lot of people forget.

From that article they say that Stouffer’s actual ingredients/weights list/instructions is as follows:

  • 2.5 ounces (5 tablespoons) pizza sauce
  • Top each pizza with 1.5 ounces of shredded low-moisture mozzarella
  • 0.5 ounces of sliced pepperoni, cut into quarters
  • Bake your pizza at 375 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes until the cheese is melty and browning a little

I follow all of this in my recipe except for the baking time and temperature. 375 would probably work just fine though. I cook mine at 450 degrees F (232 C) for a shorter amount of time. All of this is in the recipe below.

The “French” bread

I’ve posted about this bread recipe a few times already. It’s my go-to long bread recipe now unless I need something really firm like a real French baguette.

This is also a super easy bread recipe. If you’re a beginning baker, it should be easy to jump in the deep end and become a baker with this recipe.

3 hours
Sub sandwich rolls

This is sort of a French style sandwich roll. Not too crusty but with a good chew for a sub sandwich or po-boy.

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The pepperoni

Boar’s Head pepperoni has a natural casing, which helps you get those pepperoni cups you see on pizzas that are cooked at higher temperatures than we’re working with here.

I try to buy Boar’s Head traditional pepperoni and slice it myself on a mandolin (WATCH YOUR FINGERS) but feel free to buy whatever pepperoni you like. The Boar’s Head brand has a natural casing which when cooked at high heat will produce the cupping pepperoni cups, holding pepperoni grease that people on Instagram like to see on their pizza. These French Bread pizzas will never get to that point, so buy the pepperoni that you like.

I’m a big pepperoni pizza fan, but for this pizza or sandwich or pizza sandwich you can use whatever toppings you’d like. Try it with mushrooms, Canadian bacon and pineapple or even just straight pizza sauce and cheese. If you have some leftover meatballs from spaghetti and meatball night, break some of those up on top and go to town.

The sauce

Here’s a big ole can of tomatoes.

My wife, Robin, has been making a similar sauce to this for a few years now.

Overall, this isn’t a copycat of the Stouffer’s sauce. It’s just a sauce that we both really enjoy, and it works great for a French bread pizza. Stouffer’s sauce is pretty sweet, and this sauce does have added sweetness that seems perfect for a pizza sandwich.

The sauce is easy to make, especially if you have a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you’re going to have to chop and mash up the tomatoes with all the other ingredients.

If possible, make your sauce the night before you plan to use it, because that will give the flavors extra time to meld.

40 minutes
Robin's pizza sauce

A slightly spicy, slightly sweet tomato sauce that's great for your next French bread pizza.

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The process

Let’s dive right in with this slideshow of the build process. This is how I build my French bread pizzas.

The French bread pizza recipe

Once you have your bread, sauce, cheese and toppings, this is a very simple recipe.

French bread pepperoni pizzas view printable page for this recipe

Much like the French bread pizzas you find in the freezer section of the grocery store, except you can tweak these to your liking with your favorite toppings and homemade sauce. Flip two French bread pizzas on top of each other for a great sandwich.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 inches of a French sub roll, split in half
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 to 10 tablespoons pizza sauce
  • 2 to 4 ounces low moisture mozzarella
  • 2 to 3 ounces pepperoni, cut into quarters
  • pinch fennel seed (optional)
  • grated parmesan (optional)
  • red chili flakes (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F (232 C)

Slice your French sub rolls length wise like you're making a sandwich. 

Spread a tablespoon of butter on each slice of bread and toast under the broiler until the butter is melted and the bread is browning and crisping up. This keeps the bread from getting too soggy under the sauce/cheese. 

Add each slice to a baking sheet or cookie sheet, buttered side up. 

Spread 3 or 4 tablespoons of pizza sauce on each slice of bread. Make sure to get the sauce all the way to the edges of the bread.

Top the sauce with cheese. Make sure you have an even coating of cheese on each slice of bread. 

Add your toppings (in this case, pepperoni - but other pizza toppings would work well here too). Sprinkle the toppings around each slice for an even distribution. 

Sprinkle a pinch of fennel seed around the top. 

Add the sheet pan full of French bread pizzas to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melty and browning a little. Depending on your oven, you might want to take a quick peek at your pizzas around the 10-minute mark. 

If you want a really browned top, you can turn on the broiler for just a minute or two and broil the pizzas. BUT pay very close attention if you try this, it will go from epically toasty to tragically burned quickly if you're not paying attention. 

Remove pizzas from the oven top with grated parmesan and red chili flakes (if desired) and enjoy. 

Notes:

I like to take two French bread pizzas and flip them on top of each other to create a super comforting, melty and gooey sandwich. You should try it too!

With that recipe you can just make a bunch of French bread pizzas and go nuts eating them or you can flip each half together and make fantastically pleasing and comforting sandwiches.

I’m not sure why I never thought about turned these into sandwiches as a college student, but it’s a great idea.

Look below for how awesome French bread pizzas look when turned into sandwiches

A Poor Man’s Pizza with pepperoni and nice gooey cheese.
This sandwich is yelling “comfort” so loudly that you will surely need a nap very soon.
These are great with any toppings/fillings or just plain cheese and sauce.
This is a good sandwich to wrap up in paper or aluminum foil prior to eating. The foil helps to steam everything and soften some of the crispy edges, making all the sauce and cheese blend together.
A Pepperoni PMP. Or maybe it’s a PPMP? Whoa. What about a Personal Pepperoni PMP? PPPMP?

Make French bread pizzas. You heard me, just do it. They’re fantastic comfort food.

Pizza sandwiches are a whole different experience than pizza, they’re something else and they are great. Stick around for next week when we talk about leftovers.


Cheesy fiery chicken-y sandwich

Recipe: 🧀 + 🔥 + 🍗 + 🍞


Buldak is a Korean phrase that’s interpreted to mean: fire chicken (bul = fire, dak = chicken). Buldak is a heavily sauced chicken dish including course gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) and gochujang paste (Korean chili paste) in the recipe to bring the heat and spice.

Cheese buldak action shot!

In researching buldak for this post, I found a 2015 article from CNN Travel claims that for some South Koreans, eating spicy food is a stress reliever. After the year we’ve all had, I believe we can use some stress relief so I think we should make and eat more buldak.

This week we’re making cheesy buldak sandwiches inspired by a recipe from Maangchi. If you don’t know Maangchi, she’s a YouTube personality that cooks primarily Korean based food. She’s super wholesome and fun to watch. Here’s her video for Spicy fire chicken with cheese (Cheese Buldak: 치즈불닭) – she’s great, go watch it and try her recipe.

Maangchi’s buldak recipe is super spicy, but still very flavorful. It is a bit sweet and savory all at the same time and it leaves you with a pleasant lingering spicy heat that will keep each bite interesting. My wife and I both get excited when we make the decision to cook this dish again.

I altered the recipe to be whole boneless skinless chicken thighs which I prefer in a sandwich, but you can use chicken tenderloins or thin sliced/butterflied chicken breast if you’d like. The rest of the recipe is similar to Maangchi’s but I change the proportions and instructions to better fit sandwich making.

I like the idea of a larger, whole piece of chicken in my sandwich, but if you want to make a batch of cheese buldak with the chicken chopped up into bite sized pieces and put some leftovers in in a bun for sandwiching later, that’s a fantastic idea too.

There’s hot chicken and love beneath that beautiful layer of cheesy goodness. This is Maangchi’s recipe, click the links above for that.

As you’ll see in the photos below, I’ve made a ton of cheesy buldak sandwiches over the past year. I like it because you can whip up the sauce and cook the chicken within just a few minutes and then broil the cheese to melt and sandwich time comes super-fast after that.

The buns

I wanted a soft bun for these sandwiches, so I fell back on my potato bun recipe that I’ve been baking and tweaking for the past year or so. I whipped up a batch and sesame seeded most of the buns. I’ve explained this before, but if you want to add sesame seeds to a bun, you simply need to apply an egg wash (one whole beaten egg mixed with a tablespoon or so of water) and then sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds right before adding the buns to the oven.

2 hours and 45 minutes
Super soft potato buns

Need six super soft perfectly sized burger buns? The kind of bun that is slightly smaller than your burger patty so that you get a solid burger to bun ratio? Try this recipe.

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Do you prefer naked buns or sesame seed dressed buns?

The special ingredients

There are three special ingredients in this recipe that you might not be able to get at your local grocery. One ingredient isn’t quite as special as the others, but I still wanted to speak about it a tiny bit here.


First you add your chicken to this very spicy paste. Course gochugaru and gochujang paste are key ingredients for success.

Gochugaru

AKA: red pepper flakes or powder

I believe that the gochugaru is the least likely ingredient that you might find at your grocery store. I get mine at our local Korean market, but it’s easily available on Amazon (link below).

Make sure you buy the COURSE grind. I bought the fine grind the first time we made cheese buldak and it does make a big difference.

Gochugaru is the magic ingredient that you can use to adjust the heat in this recipe. Add more for more heat and less for less heat.

Buy Gochugaru (Amazon affiliate link)

Gochujang comes in tubs like the one here and squeeze tubes. We use it frequently, so we buy the tub.

Gochujang

There are many brands of gochujang, the one pictured is the one available at our local grocery and we enjoy it, but we have tried a few others. Gochujang is a great addition to marinades, stir frys and even things like mayonnaise for an extra flavor kick.

In our house we add gochujang to a few of our steak marinades and it has become something we just add a small or large spoonful to a lot of sauces and even soups if we want to add depth of flavor or spice.

Buy Gochujang (Amazon affiliate link)

If you’re making the main Cheesy Buldak dish, dice up a lot of low moisture mozzarella into half inch cubes. If you’re making Buldak sandwiches, you will want slices of cheese not cubes.

Low moisture mozzarella

Blocks of low moisture mozzarella should be at most large grocery store chains, but just remember, we’re not talking about the balls of fresh mozzarella here.

In a pinch you can use the shredded stuff for pizza, but I don’t really like pre-shredded cheese when you’re hoping for a good melt. Pre-shredded mozzarella has starches tossed in with the cheese to keep it from clumping.

If you can find a block of low moisture mozzarella, buy that.

Reheating leftovers

This recipe is quick to whip up once you have all your ingredients together. You could get it on some buns in half an hour or so. If you don’t eat all your sandwiches the first meal, you can easily reheat these for future sandwiches.

For reheating, I place a piece of chicken with a little scoop of sauce on a foil lined sheet pan and I bake it for about 7 or 8 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 C). After 7 or 8 minutes I remove the sheet pan, flip the chicken pieces (add more sauce if you have some) and cover it with cheese and return it to the oven. You can cook it another 3 minutes to melt the cheese or if you like your cheese to brown you could set it under the broiler for a minute or two.

In my experience with chicken thighs, the leftover sandwich is just as tasty as the first day.

Cheese buldak sandwiches

Here’s the recipe to try:

Cheese buldak sandwiches view printable page for this recipe

This is a spicy sandwich. The cheese and bun both help to cool things off a little, but you can adjust the heat by changing the amount of Gochugaru chili flakes. Inspired by Maangchi's Cheese Buldak recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast pieces
  • 14 cup gochugaru (course pepper flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 14 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup (or honey)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 14 cup water
  • 12 lb low moisture mozzarella cheese cut into slices
  • sliced green onion (garnish)
  • 6 soft hamburger buns or rolls

Directions:

In a medium bowl add gochugaru, gochujang, soy sauce, canola oil, black pepper, corn syrup, garlic and ginger. Stir well to combine. 

Add your six chicken thighs and mix everything up very well. You want all the chicken coated in the marinade. 

Place a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Swirl the pan around to coat the bottom of the pan with oil as much as possible. 

When pan is hot, use tongs or a fork to place each chicken thigh in the hot pan. If your pan isn't large enough to cook all six thighs, you can cook in batches. 

DO NOT get rid of the bowl that has any leftover marinade in it. We will be using that to make our sauce

Cook each chicken thigh 3 minutes on the first side, flip and then cook 3 more minutes on the second side. Remove all chicken to a plate. 

Once all the chicken is done, add a quarter cup of water to the bowl where you marinaded your chicken. Mix the water around to loosen the marinade from the bowl. This will allow you to get it all into the pan. 

Pour all the leftover marinade with the water back into the pan where you cooked the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium. 

Add all of your chicken to the pan with the cooking marinade and nestle everything in together. 

Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. 

Remove pan from heat. 

Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and add your pieces of chicken. If you're using large pieces make sure they're separated from the other pieces, if you're using small bite sized pieces make sure you place them in sandwich sized piles. If you're only making one or two sandwiches you can just add one or two pieces or chicken piles and use the rest for leftover sandwiches. 

On top of each piece of chicken add slices of mozzarella. Place sheet pan under the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes. Pay very close attention though, everyone's broiler is different and things can burn very quickly. 

Once the cheese is broiled and melted to your satisfaction, remove the sheet pan. Allow the chicken to cool for a minute or so and then add each piece to a bottom bun. Add a little extra sauce if you want and garnish with the sliced green onion. 

Top with the bun top, serve and enjoy. 

Some cheese buldak sandwiches to stare at

Here are four more examples of cheesy fire chicken sandwiches I’ve made over the past year or so.

Glorious spicy, melty goodness
Boneless chicken thigh cheesy buldak on a toasted sesame seeded bun.
A batch of chicken thighs or chicken breast pieces can be cooked in buldak over the weekend and reheated to create quick sandwiches during the week. I do this often.
If you like spice and cheese, I have the sandwich for you.

Try Maangchi’s recipe. Buy gochujang and gochugaru and keep them in the fridge for longer shelf life and you can make this recipe very quickly whenever you crave it. And believe me, you’ll start to crave this dish and sandwich.

Check back next week when you can Sea more of my Food!


Curderburger for your thoughts

On October 15th, for one day only, Culver’s plans to release the Curderburger. Instead of waiting, I made my own.


I didn’t expect to write about two fast food copycat recipes/sandwiches in a row, but because of timing and what some real writers would call an “editorial calendar,” here we are. Let’s Curderburger and enjoy it.


The April Fools joke 2021. A big fried cheese curd in a bun.

A Wisconsin based burger chain known as Culver’s shared an April Fools’ joke on social media earlier this year that jokingly announced The Curderburger. Cheese fans across the land got excited.

If you don’t know what a fried cheese curd is, congratulations; you’ve never been hungry in a bar in the Midwest of the United States. Cheese curds themselves are young unaged cheese — typically cheddar — that is separated from the whey. Instead of packing that cheese up and molding it into huge wheels, it’s chunked up into small pieces and sold immediately as cheese curds.

The Midwest delicacy known as fried cheese curds, takes these fresh curds and batters or coats them in breadcrumbs and they are fried to order. Much like the more well-known mozzarella stick, you end up with a crispy exterior and a tender, slightly melty interior.

The feedback from the comments on the April Fools’ joke convinced Culver’s to follow through and create a Curderburger. They’ve announced that it’s coming October 15th, at a Culver’s near you!

The original joke concept was just a big ole fried cheese curd in between a top and bottom bun. But Culver’s concept brought to life is their Deluxe butter burger with a fried cheese curd disk placed on top of the burger patty. Witness the following promo photos and action shots for the Curderburger coming out on October 15th.

The Curderburger promo photo.
A real-world version of the Curderburger. I think Dan Higgins/USA Today has credit for this photo.

It appears that Daniel Higgins/Green Bay Press Gazette gets credit for the real world Curderburger above.

If you want to know more about how Culver’s makes their burgers, this video should be instructive.

Culver’s is pretty good for a fast-food burger, but this is NOT what most Wisconsin butter burgers are actually like.

[side discussion/rant on butter burgers]

A Wisconsin butter burger often has scoops of butter on top of the burger patties before the patty is sealed up and then everything below gets all buttery. The only butter in a Culver’s “butter burger” is a spread of butter on the top bun before it gets toasted. That’s just fine, but it’s not what you’ll find at other burger joints in Wisconsin. I must stand up for my northern Wisconsin neighbors. Many burgers around the world are served on butter toasted buns. That doesn’t make them a butter burger.

Maybe one day I’ll attempt a Wisconsin butter burger for a blog post. I’ll make sure my doctors are all alerted before I start down that path, though.

[/side discussion/rant on butter burgers]

I’m going to use the techniques in that video plus all the promo photos and make a Curderburger.

A disk of cheese curds

Somehow, I opened this bag from the bottom because it’s chaos in sandwich land.

First, we need a big ole fried cheese curd patty.

My goal was to make disks out of cheese curds and then coat them in breadcrumbs and fry them just like normal people do.

At first, I thought that I would just coat some curds in an egg wash and then freeze them all together in a disk. The more I thought about it, it seemed that this would never really make a solid disk.

My second plan was to melt the curds and then shape them into disks. I had never melted cheese curds before, but about 30 seconds in the microwave does the trick. Turns out, lightly melting the curds and pouring the slightly melted cheese into a ring mold in the freezer for an hour will give you perfect disks of cheese curd ready for frying.

Here’s a two-photo slideshow of that process.

Then I lightly coated my curd disks in breadcrumbs and fried them. Culver’s uses breadcrumbs and not a batter so that’s what I did.

1 hour and 35 minutes
Fried cheese curd disks

Q: What's better than a bunch of fried cheese curds?
A: A bunch of really big fried cheese curds.

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Two fresh fried cheese curd disks.
A cross section of a fried cheese curd disk.
A big ole frying cheese curd hockey puck.

I made two different colors of curd disks because I spare no expense bringing you sandwich content.

Once you have your frozen disks of formed cheese curds, you coat them in all purpose flour, then run them through an egg wash and then coat with seasoned breadcrumbs.

Fry all your cheese curd pucks for 2-ish minutes at around 375 degrees F and you’re left with nice crunchy, soft in the middle cheese curds to turn into Curderburgers.

Once the cheese curds are fried, you’ll want to drain them on a wire rack, or a tray lined with paper towels. You can place your fried cheese curd disks in a 200-degree F oven to keep warm while you make the rest of your burger (don’t put paper towels in a hot oven though, watch out).

The smash burger

Frying curd disks and cooking cheeseburgers at the same time does take a bit of timing. But your burgers will be smash burgers which means they will cook only two or three minutes for a super thin patty.

I’ve covered smash burgers in a post before, and they’re easy as long as you have a hot surface and some way to smash the patty. I attempt to detail the process again in the full recipe down below.

Curderburger assembly time

Here’s the layering process if you’re writing these things down (and you should be):

  • Top bun
  • Butter (toasted on bun)
  • Fried cheese curd patty
  • Smashed burger patty (4 ounces)
  • Tomato slice
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Two slices of red onion
  • Three pickles
  • Bottom bun (toasted)

The toppings going in as bottomings here really gives me a bit of pause, but this is how Culver’s does it, so I did my best to do it as well.

Theirs vs mine

Overall, I think I did a pretty good job, but I won’t really know until I try a real life Curderburger. I will probably update the post at the very bottom after October 15th, 2021, with updates if I get the opportunity to try one.

30 minutes
Fried cheese curd smash burger

Based on the Culver's Curderburger, this is a fully loaded smash burger with a fried cheese curd patty on top.

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I’m going to attempt to try the Culver’s Curderburger on Friday. I’m not sure what the interest level will be or whether things will sell out, but if I get the opportunity I will try one, take a photo and give my review via @beerinator on twitter and @beerinator on instagram. I will also post more details on the new Bounded by Buns facebook page. Check out one of those and follow or like the page for this and future updates.


BREAKING: CURDERBURGER UPDATE

Updated: October 15th, 2021
I got the chance to try an official Curderburger today and it was pretty good. The curd disk was about a quarter of an inch think, where some of mine were closer to a half inch. If I were to make mine again and adjust the recipe I think that’s about the only thing I would change. My homemade bun was lighter and fresher than theirs, but everything else was pretty similar.

The thickness of the curd disk made a pretty big difference in texture. In some bites of the official Curderburger you couldn’t even tell that it was there other than the cheese flavor. The edge bites of the Curderburger were definitely the best parts because you not only got the texture from the smashburger patty, you also got the crunchy fried breadcrumb exterior from the fried cheese curd disk.

Overall, I enjoyed this burger. I would order it again, but I don’t think I’d order it every visit to Culver’s. If the Curderburger was a once a year or seasonal menu item then I would definitely use that opportunity to come back and try one.

An official Culver’s Curderburger. There’s lettuce, red onion, pickles, and tomato under there along with a slathering of mayo. Cheese is oozing out the side of the fried curd disk.
This guy’s name is Curdis. You can get him if you upgrade to a family sized cheese curd. I didn’t need him or the family sized cheese curd order but sometimes things happen for a reason. This was not one of those times because it happened for no reason.

If you didn’t get a chance to try this, I’m hoping that Culver’s brings it back from time to time. Maybe it’ll be a once a year thing they do for #NationalCheeseCurdDay.


Caprese what!?

This sandwich is named after Capri. The island, not the pants.


Once again I decided to turn to random sites on the internet to provide all of my fun historical facts about food. It appears that caprese salad is only about 100 years old. There’s a lot of speculation about when or who invented it first, but most sources believe caprese originated in the southern Italian region of Campania. More specifically, caprese is named after the island of Capri, which is an island in the Campania region.

Caprese as a salad is thought to have been first mentioned on a menu at the Hotel Quisisana in the early 1920s. If you’d like to read a good breakdown on caprese sandwiches (including pizza and salads) check out the Sandwich Tribunal’s caprese post.

At its simplest, a caprese salad or sandwich includes three ingredients; basil, mozzarella and tomato. Most caprese salads will also have drizzles of olive oil, salt and possibly some balsamic vinegar. Green, white and red are the colors of Italy’s flag and with the basil, mozzarella and tomato, caprese mimics the colors of the flag much like another very simply adorned Italian dish, pizza margherita.

This isn’t my first salad to sandwich post and it likely won’t be the last. Let us walk through the steps I took for this sandwich.

The focaccia

You can add all sorts of herbs or green things to the top. This one had fresh sage leaves and Italian seasoning.

King Arthur’s Blitz Bread is a very easy bread recipe. In my experience, focaccia is some of the best bang for your effort bread you can make. In less than two hours you can have this baked up and ready to eat or slice for sandwiches.

Focaccia is some of the best bang for your effort bread you can make.

The recipe mentions using a mixer, but you really don’t need anything to make this properly other than a scale (here’s the scale I use – Amazon affiliate link). The dough never really comes together like typical bread dough (it stays more like a thick batter) so you should make sure to have some olive oil handy to spread on your fingers if you need to handle it very much.

If you’re a rookie at baking bread, I suggest you give focaccia a try. This recipe gives you a great result with very little way to mess things up unless you incorrectly measure your ingredients. Use a scale.

Once you get your focaccia mastered, you’re about half way to one of the best types of pizza you can make at home, Detroit Style!

Prior to baking, add olive oil and poke the top a little to create small indentions for the oil and spices to pool up.
Post bake. This one is just Italian seasoning and flaky salt.

Part of why I love focaccia is the crispy almost fried texture you get from the bread frying in the pan due to the oil underneath. I’m also a big fan of the salted and seasoned top.

Soft on the inside but crispy on the outside with crumb for a good sandwich or to serve on the side of some soup or pasta.

GREEN: the walnut basil pesto sauce

Instead of just straight basil leaves, I decided to make one of the world’s best sandwich condiments, pesto. Pesto can be and has been made from almost anything green, but typically it’s basil. It’s also usually made with pine nuts, but my wife had a lot of extra walnuts left over from cake or brownies and I used those.

This recipe is solid and once you try it, you’ll want to put it on all of your sandwiches.

10 minutes
Walnut basil pesto

Pesto is a great option for a fresh spread or sauce for your next sandwich. The key is adding the oil slowly to help create the proper emulsified consistency.

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WHITE: the mozzarella

I’ve never made cheese and there’s no time like the present (or past since I made this in the past). So I decided to make my mozzarella.

I first watched this youtube video and then I followed this mozzarella recipe from thekitchn.com. Making your own mozzarella relies on buying two special ingredients, citric acid and liquid rennet (both Amazon affiliate links). The two ingredients together cost me around 20 bucks. Then after that initial investment I was able to turn a gallon of milk into two fairly large mozzarella balls and one smaller one. Enough for a weeks worth of sandwiches at least. In glancing at my local grocery store website, the cheapest ball of fresh mozzarella costs about the same as the cheapest gallon of milk, so if you plan to keep making mozzarella it should eventually pay for itself.

The whole mozzarella making process took me around 45 minutes to do. It’s a fairly active recipe and it requires you to hit certain temperatures, so you’re definitely going to need a probe thermometer or just get really lucky with your guesses.

Now that I have both citric acid and liquid rennet, I will definitely be making mozzarella again. Would I suggest you try? Sure. If you have the time and want really fresh really tasty cheese, I say go for it. But if you don’t have excess in your schedule you can always just buy fresh mozzarella at the store and slice it yourself.

I’M CUTTING THE CHEESE
The recipe requires you to hit certain temps so you’ll need a thermometer.
Finished balls of fresh mozzarella.

RED: the tomatoes

If you read my BLT post you already know that I like to support my Farmer’s Market in the summer. Growing up, my Dad had a fairly large garden and grew a lot of tomatoes, but as an adult I like to let others do my gardening and weeding for me and then I pay them for it. If you don’t have a garden, I suggest you do the same and buy a bunch of tomatoes during the later part of summer when they’re at their ripest and tastiest.

A red and an orange tomato ready to sandwich.

Let us put the colors together

Look how simple this sandwich prep looks. Don’t forget to add a tiny bit of salt to your tomatoes to help accentuate their flavor.

All the pieces arranged and ready to sandwich.

A good caprese sandwich with a ripe tomato is a fantastic experience. To make a sandwich like mine fully from scratch you really only need a food processor or blender and a thermometer. But if you didn’t want to go through the trouble of making your own mozzarella and you have a good source for focaccia (or other types of bread) you could have one of these sandwiches ready to go in minutes.

The sandwiches

It tastes like eating an Italian flag. This is not true. I’ve actually never eaten a flag. Yet.
It’s an Italian flag with some orange color splashed on it!
Back to the tricolor flag sandwich.

And an extra

Here’s another similar-ish to a caprese sandwich.

Grilled chicken thigh with melted cheddar, salted tomato and pesto on focaccia. No mozzarella, but still very good.

Make more caprese sandwiches and focaccia

If you take nothing else from my caprese ramblings today, I’d love for you to try to make your own focaccia. If you do, share a picture with me on instagram or twitter. Check back next week when I turn a thing that’s not supposed to be a sandwich into a sandwich. Again.


Burgers three ways

I made some burgers and now you get to read about them (and look at them).


Two or three times a year I plan to delve a bit deeper and write about the toppings of the burgers I make at home. This week I made the following burgers:

All three of these burgers are simply 80/20 ground chuck with salt and pepper. I don’t like to mess around too much with spices in my burgers, but you obviously can if you want. That’s up to you. You are, after all, the Tina Turner of your own Hamburger.

Potato Buns

First we need to address the buns. The King Arthur Baking Hamburger Potato Buns recipe is one of my go-to bun recipes. You can use this for longer sub-like rolls or even weigh out pretty small sizes for sliders or hot dog buns. This recipe does require you to have potato flour and special dry milk in your pantry, but I make this bun style often enough to keep those items on hand. It also helps that both of these ingredients have a fairly long shelf life – even longer if you keep them in the fridge. The point of the potato flour is that it absorbs moisture in the dough and it leaves you with a more moist hamburger bun that will stay fresh longer.

Since I was making hamburger buns, I decided to add some toppings to some of the buns. That’s a super easy way to change up your hamburger rolls or hot dog buns. Just prior to baking, simply brush each bun with an egg wash (one whole beaten egg and a tablespoon of water) and apply your bun toppings liberally. I like to use Everything Bagel Seasoning (Amazon affiliate link), but you can use poppy seeds, sesame seeds or even something like dried onion flakes.

Sliced hamburger potato roll.

All American burger

This was a diner-style griddle burger, not a smash burger. I weighed out my ground beef into two 3 ounce portions and formed it into two patties. I typically use parchment paper and use my hands to form a round patty that is wider than my bun. In this case I flattened them into two fairly thin patties. You want to make your patty wider than your bun because the meat will shrink as it cooks. I like to form patties on a scrap of parchment paper because you can use that to flip them onto your hot griddle or skillet.

The ingredients for my All American burger are: two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, … tomato … on a sesame seed bun. The pickles I used were my MSG pickle recipe and the sauce I used here is a super easy sauce recipe I use for burgers and other sandwiches.

5 minutes
Special sandwich sauce

Great substitute for mayonnaise but way more flavorful. Perfect on a burger or even as dipping sauce for fries and onion rings.

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You can add finely diced pickles or onions to this sauce as well. And those seeking a little heat could opt for sriracha or another hot sauce to liven things up.

The All American burger. Two formed beef patties, American cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles and special sauce on a sesame seed bun.

Blue cheese and bacon jam

Blue cheese and sweet and savory bacon jam is a great combination of big flavors. I’ve shared my bacon jam recipe before and it is fantastic paired with blue cheese. For this burger I went with a hefty scoop of bacon jam and a wide but thin slice of blue cheese on an everything bagel bun.

You could go with blue cheese crumbles as well, but in my experience those end up falling off the burger and make a bit of a mess. Thinly slicing from a wedge of blue cheese helps your cheese stay in the mix.

Slice of blue cheese, bacon jam on a everything bagel seasoned bun.

Onion all the way

My onion all the way burger is very similar to a smash burger. I wrote about smash burgers a few months ago and most of those tips and tools apply here.

This burger is a lot like an Oklahoma fried onion burger. The burger historian himself, George Motz, can explain what that is better than I can. Here’s a video with Motz for Martin’s potato roll’s youtube channel where he explains and makes an Oklahoma fried onion burger. The simple explanation (if you don’t want to watch the video) is that this is a burger that is smashed and griddled along side sliced up onions.

The main difference in my burger is that I smashed the burger balls into the hot surface with thinly sliced onions. Motz’s recipe tells you to smash the onions into the burger balls forming patties with onions on the top side. Then when you flip, you end up cooking the onions while cooking the second side of the patty. I like to put the onions down first and smash my patties into the already cooking onions. It works great either way though, so experiment yourself and see what you think.

The slide show below shows the simple steps I follow to smash this onion burger.

Why make a burger with one type of onions when you can make a burger with two types of onions? Here’s my onion ring recipe.

Fried onion rings

Crispy and light onion rings are perfect as a side dish or placed inside a sandwich.

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Salt or season your fried onion rings right as they come out of the frying oil.

Here’s my finished Onion All The Way burger. I also used special sauce on this one as well.

Onion all the way burger. Two onion smashed patties, American cheese, two onion rings, special sauce on a plain potato roll.

And that’s it. Three burgers I made that hopefully will inspire you to make some of your own.

Don’t forget that Father’s Day is coming up. If you have the chance to see your Dad, offer to make him a burger. Pretty sure that Dads like burgers. If he also loves to cook burgers, I have several burger cooking tools listed in my smash burger post. Check those out. Next week I’ll be writing about another sandwich. I think this one may contain pork. Stay tuned!


Pimento cheese sandwich untoasted

Shredded cheese is grate

This is my ode to pimento cheese, the cheese spread of summer.


The cheesy, salty, crunchy snack of my youth.

Pimento cheese reminds me of summer. When I was growing up in Eastern North Carolina, this cheddary cheese spread was a staple in our fridge in the summers. My Mom made it often and I probably didn’t have non-homemade pimento cheese until many years later when I moved to Chicago.

If you’ve never had pimento cheese, it’s typically shredded cheddar cheese, blended with diced pimento peppers and mayonnaise to create a spread or dip. Recipes will vary from chunky consistency to very smooth and spreadable. Some simple variations also come in the form of adding sugar or honey for sweetness or adding other peppers or chili powders for spice.

On many family beach or lake trips (shout out to White Lake!) during my youth we’d be presented with a lunch option of pimento cheese or tomato sandwiches. It wasn’t until I got older that I learned the correct answer when my Mom asked, was “both,” but when I was a kid, I always opted for the pimento cheese. My Mom’s recipe is smooth, creamy and sharp from the cheddar with just a touch of sweetness.

One other lasting memory for me during our family beach trips was snack time with pimento cheese and Bugles. With a built in pocket scoop, a bugle makes a great cheese spread dipping utensil. I’d be lying if I said I had never had a pimento cheese sandwich with a side of pimento cheese and bugles.

The bread

There was a time while I was in high school and/or college that my Mom inherited a sourdough starter from our across-the-street neighbor, Mrs. Newton. Mom made bread from that starter for at least four or five years and I remember it being great sandwich bread that we took with us on our yearly beach trip (we lived about 45 minutes from North Carolina’s coastline).

Jimmy Starter Jr lives again! 7:30 am was where he was after feeding and then he’s almost doubled at 11:30 am and still growing.

In thinking about approaching and writing about the pimento cheese sandwich, I chose to bake King Arthur Baking’s sourdough sandwich bread recipe. I plucked my sourdough starter, Jimmy Starter Jr., out of back-of-the-fridge retirement and started feeding him again.

My starter was born on October 1st, 2019 – President Jimmy Carter’s 94th birthday – so I was presented with the perfect name for him. He’s served me pretty well, but at some point during the early 2020 pandemic, there was a severe lack of flour in the stores and I felt it was a bit wasteful to keep feeding him. I left Jimmy in the back of the fridge for at least 10 or 11 months to chill.

It wasn’t until very recently that I pulled him out, poured off the liquor from the top and within two or three feedings he was doubling in size after every feeding. Just like his namesake, Jimmy Starter Jr. is back at work building things.

For this sandwich I wanted simple sandwich bread and not boules, so this recipe is baked in 4×8 inch bread pans. The resulting bread ends up a tiny bit dense, but I feel that helps it hold up very well to spreads and toasting. The egg wash prior to baking makes the top shiny and pretty and the tight crumb sets each slice up for some good mayo or mustard spreading.

Mom’s pimento cheese recipe

Pimento cheese is a southern United States thing. It wasn’t invented in the south, but from all accounts it was perfected there. I’m working with my Mom’s recipe that I’m sharing below with you. This isn’t a gourmet pimento cheese that you might find at a fancy restaurant. This is pimento cheese spread that you should be eating on sandwiches or spreading on crackers.

To get things smooth, this recipe requires a food processor. You could probably do it without the food processor, but the blades help a lot in getting a spreadable consistency. A lot of food processors also came with a shredding blade which will shorten the time and effort you need to get the cheese shredded. Here’s the Cuisinart food processor (Amazon affiliate link) that I own and use, but you can find them cheaper if you shop around. Just try to get one that also has the shredder blade or else you’ll need to use a box grater.

20 minutes
Mom's pimento cheese

An awesome addition to a sausage biscuit sandwich. This is my Mom's recipe. Growing up, I enjoyed a lot of pimento cheese sandwiches, with just the spread and sliced bread. This recipe also works great as a snack with crackers or pretzels.

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Duke’s vs Miracle Whip

Most of the time my Mom used Miracle Whip to make her pimento cheese. I’ve used it also but I actually do not like the taste of miracle whip on its own. Because of this, I decided to do a back to back blind tasting of the same exact recipe with just Duke’s Mayonnaise vs Miracle Whip.

My wife and I each got two spoons and served the other samples without sharing which was Duke’s or which was Miracle Whip. My wife’s palate is definitely better than mine and she was able to guess correctly. She knew which was Miracle whip, but she said they were very very close. I did not accurately guess from a blind tasting and even after the blind tasting, while looking at both and knowing which one I was consuming, the differences were very slim.

I was very much expecting to immediately be able to discern the sweet tang of Miracle Whip, but it did not stand out. The Duke’s version is a slight bit more savory than Miracle Whip, but it isn’t that noticeable if you’re not specifically looking for it. I guess my main takeaway from the blind tasting and eating both batches all week is that you can use your favorite mayonnaise in this recipe and it will still turn out tasting great.

The Big Matchup: never thought I’d be blind tasting pimento cheese, but here we are.

Untoasted vs Toasted

Now we’re back to the debate about whether a specific sandwich is better toasted or untoasted. I got into it a little when I wrote about PB&J and in both cases so far I’ve definitely preferred the toasted version of the sandwich. The texture of butter toasted bread just stands out too much. Below you can find photos of both types of pimento cheese sandwiches. My vote for pimento cheese sandwich is toasted bread. BUT you shouldn’t toast/griddle the bread with the pimento cheese inside.

Griddling the sandwich with pimento cheese already inside will cause the spread to get melty and slide out of the sandwich. So if you do griddle or toast it, just pay attention and get it off the heat before you lose all your cheese.

I toast the bread with butter in a skillet with no ingredients. Once the bread gets to where I want in terms of color I let the bread rest and cool a minute before spreading pimento cheese in the middle. Toasting it and then applying the cheese later keeps everything from melting and becoming a big mess.

Untoasted sandwich. This is pretty much what I ate as a kid.
Toasted half. A butter toasted slice of bread that’s then packed with pimento cheese spread.

Cheesy upgrades

Bacon

BREAKING NEWS: add bacon to something and it will be good.

Bacon makes everything better! (your mileage may vary)

Extra cheesy biscuit option

Pimento cheese is fantastic on a biscuit (in this case my super savory cheddar cheese biscuit). I also used pimento cheese in my recreation of The Uva. I’m not sure why I even need to type all these words, you can look at the photo and see how beautiful it is for yourself!

Pimento cheese on a sausage biscuit? Yes, please!

Spicy option

The best way to add spice and heat to my Mom’s pimento cheese recipe is to add chopped up pickled jalapenos or another type of pepper into the mix. This is something that you can add into the full batch or you can chop up just a few jalapenos and add them to each individual sandwich.

Chop up and add 20 or more pickled jalapenos to your batch of pimento cheese if you want to add a little spice. Or you can just add whole pickled jalapeno slices to each sandwich if you want to change things up.

I love pimento cheese! Did I say that already? Try this recipe for your next family get together or snack night. I’ll be back next week writing about some other sort of sandwich. Sign up for my newsletter if you’re one of those email people!


The King of breakfast sandwiches

You probably never sausage a sandwich!


I get really excited about the sausage, egg and cheese biscuit. This is definitely my favorite breakfast sandwich and would be my go to selection at a fast food breakfast joint. This week I made a bunch and if you continue reading you’ll learn about the process I use to make these at home.

The biscuits

The base biscuit recipe I use is from Southern Living magazine (youtube link). It requires three ingredients and is fairly easy to get right. If the idea of keeping buttermilk around in your fridge seems wasteful, you can also buy buttermilk powder at the grocery store and follow this recipe from The Kitchenista Diaries.

I’ve already written a little bit about biscuits and I have three different flavor versions (two savory and a sweet one) in my recipe archive. Go read that if you have never made biscuits before and then come back here to read the rest of my process for sausage, egg and cheese.

The tools

This set of biscuit/cookie cutters (Amazon affiliate link) is very similar to the ones that I have. I bought mine so long ago that I don’t know where we purchased them, but I like having many different sizes. I like to bake a bigger size biscuit if I’m making a sandwich, but we usually choose a smaller size if we’re having biscuits on the side of a plate of breakfast.

Another tool that I use even more often than a rolling pin when making biscuits is a bench scraper. This is a great scraper set (Amazon affiliate link) for right around 10 bucks. It has three scrapers included. The orange plastic one I almost never use, but the red curved one is great for bread baking and getting dough out of a bowl and the metal one is what I use for biscuits and scooping and folding during the folding/layer making process. Buy this or find another bench scraper if you’re planning to make biscuits a regular thing at your house.

The sausage

Forming patties with a ring mold

I don’t usually make my own sausage blend for breakfast sandwiches. Typically I just buy bulk breakfast sausage in the tube and I form my own patties.

Forming my own means that I can get the shapes and sizes that I want. Since I already know how big my biscuit is (because I know what size biscuit cutter I used) I use a similarly sized cutter (or a slightly larger one – meat will shrink once cooked) and I spread a tiny bit of canola oil on the inside of the ring and I use it to shape my patties. The oil keeps things from sticking. Sometimes I freeform shape each patty – that’s also a very easy option – but when I’m feeling fancy and precise I use the ring mold.

Cooking each patty for 4 or 5 minutes per side on a medium-high heat should get you to a fully done stage of sausage patty goodness.

Egg options

The folded egg

A folded egg is way better for a biscuit sandwich than scrambled eggs. If you’ve ever put scrambled eggs on a sandwich, you know that you’re about to have a mess on your hands with the scrambled curds falling out. With a folded egg, you have a solid but still soft piece of egg that shouldn’t make a mess. You’re pretty much making an omelet here, with nothing but salt and pepper added.

Sausage folded egg and cheese biscuit. The king of breakfast sandwiches.

Here’s a short slideshow of how I prepare a folded egg. The whole process takes about 1 minute of cooking time plus whatever time it takes you to get your surface hot. I like to do it in a flat griddle so I can flip things easier. I usually try to get the hot surface up to between 275 and 350 F (that’s around 177 C).

The round egg

A “round egg” is the egg preparation you’ll find on an Egg McMuffin at McDonald’s. A folded egg is what you’ll find on a biscuit sandwich. Many McDonald’s enthusiasts prefer the round egg more than a folded one because it requires the McD’s cook to use a fresh egg instead of a pre-cooked folded one. In our DIY make-at-home versions they’re all fresh eggs, so that part doesn’t matter very much, it’s more about the effort you want to put into it.

I don’t like to cook the round egg very much, but I still cooked one for this post. The main reason I don’t like a round egg is because you have to cook it pretty well through in order for it to retain its shape in the ring mold. I like my eggs a bit softer and less done. If you like yours more well done then this might be a fun option for you, but I much prefer the folded egg option.

If you want to cook a round egg, I would grab the same ring mold that you used to cut out your biscuit and you place that on a hot surface. Make sure if you’re doing this on a non-stick surface pay close attention so that you do not scratch the surface with the metal mold. Grease the ring mold first with some vegetable oil and pour your egg into it. I like to stir the egg a little once its in the mold and cooking to make sure that the yolk gets cracked and mixed in a bit with the white. Cook for a couple of minutes until it seems like the sides are set inside the mold. With tongs, carefully remove the ring mold and flip the egg to finish it cooking on the top side.

A round egg

The microwaved egg

Chef José Andrés shared this trick on tiktok and a friend shared it with me. It’s basically one egg mixed very thoroughly with one spoonful of mayonnaise. I was skeptical, but I tried it and it worked fairly well. I like my scrambled eggs on the softer side of things so I might play around with the timing on the microwave to get a better result. Sixty seconds for me was a bit too long, but to have an egg that is the perfect size for a biscuit sandwich in less than 2 minutes is fantastic (gotta count the cracking and scooping and stirring time too).

If the idea of mayonnaise in your scrambled eggs makes you squirm, just remember that mayo is simply oil and egg yolks mixed together with seasoning (and if store bought, preservatives).

Here’s Chef Andrés explaining his technique. A photo of my attempt at the microwaved egg is below.

The Jose Andres microwaved egg trick with a couple dribbles of hot sauce.

Sausage gravy

Gravy isn’t a typical ingredient in a sausage egg and cheese biscuit, but it’s good to know how to make a quick sausage gravy for a breakfast. Here’s my recipe but read below if you want to know my gravy ratio and methods to make gravy on the fly.

Recipe Card
Sausage gravy

Everyone should know how to make sausage gravy. You never know when there will be a gravy emergency and you will have to step up and save the world. You should be prepared.

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If you want to keep things really simple, the sausage gravy I usually make is made up of 2 parts oil/grease, 2 parts all-purpose flour and 16 parts of liquid. This means you can use 2 tablespoons of leftover fat/grease from cooking sausage in a pan, 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 cup of milk (16 tablespoons to a cup) to make a sausage gravy. I’ve had good success scaling the recipe up to double and halving the recipe as well. Since I was only eating one biscuit here, I used 1 tablespoon sausage grease, 1 tablespoon of flour and a half cup of milk. If you’re going to adjust anything in this gravy ratio, you can adjust the milk/liquid. If you add more, you just may need to cook it a bit longer to reduce and thicken the gravy.

If you’ve just finished cooking the sausage and your pan is still hot you can remove all but 2 tablespoons of grease from the pan (add some vegetable oil if you don’t have quite enough in the pan) and then spoon in your two tablespoons of flour. Stir this around over medium heat for a couple of minutes and this will cook off the flour taste. Add your milk and stir everything to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until you get the gravy consistency that you desire. It’s that simple.

Sausage gravy and folded egg

And those are some options for how you can make the King of Breakfast Biscuits. You can choose your own adventure with the egg options, but my favorite for visual appeal is the folded egg. For ease and quickness, that microwaved egg trick is pretty special. If I’m already cooking sausage patties and my pan or griddle is hot I will keep folding eggs.

The bonus biscuit

I’ll finish out this sausage, egg and cheese post with an extra cheesy surprise. This is my super savory cheddar cheese biscuit recipe with yellow mustard, sausage, cheddar and a folded egg for you to look at and think about until you make your next biscuit sandwiches. Stay tuned for next week when I’ll be writing about even more cheese!

The cheddar attack: a savory cheddar cheese biscuit, mustard, sausage, melted cheddar and a folded egg.

Cheddar cheese biscuit with fried chicken

Cheese on cheese on cheese

You like cheese!? I like cheese!


My wife bought a box of white cheddar grooves and when we opened them we learned that this box was magical. A bunch of the crackers in the box were very heavily seasoned with the white cheddar flavor dust. Most were so full of dust that you could no longer see the “grooves.” Of course when something phenomenal like this happens in your life, you tweet about it and I did.

Magical Box of Cheez-it Grooves!

One of the replies to my tweet boldly told me I should use cheez-its as the coating on some fried chicken. I read the reply at 4 am and realized that the lunch portion of my day was planned.

The day before, I had baked up a batch of my savory cheddar cheese biscuits and I had also made a batch of cheddar beer cheese spread for crackers and snack time.

40 minutes
Super savory cheddar cheese biscuits

These savory biscuits are great on their own and even better with chicken or pork for a breakfast sandwich.

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15 minutes
Cheddar Beer Cheese Spread

Cheese spreads aren\'t only for crackers. Spread on any sandwich for a burst of extra cheesy flavor.

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Put those two recipes together and add a cheez-it coated fried chicken thigh and that’s a sandwich all figured out.

For the chicken, I basically made my normal buttermilk fried chicken (recipe below) except when it came time for breading, I brought each thigh from the buttermilk marinade, coated with the seasoned flour, then I put it back in the buttermilk marinade and finally I crusted each thigh in crushed up cheez-its. Then I rested them for a few minutes while my oil heated up and fried according to the recipe.

Here’s the cheez-it frying in action. Glorious.


Buttermilk fried chicken thighs view printable page for this recipe

A quick and easy recipe to prepare fried chicken for sandwiches. The cayenne gives it some heat. You can omit that if you don't want it spicy or even double it if you're extra bold.

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Ingredients:

Buttermilk marinade
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 12 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breast meat cut into sandwich size pieces)
Seasoned flour
  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 12 teaspoon paprika
  • peanut oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Add salt, pepper cayenne pepper and paprika to buttermilk and whisk to combine. Put chicken in a zip top bag or bowl with a lid. Pour buttermilk marinade over chicken and store in fridge for at least an hour or overnight. 
  2. Make seasoned flour by combining flour with all of the spices, salt and pepper in a bowl or pan that is large enough for a piece of chicken to lay flat in the flour. 
  3. Remove one piece of chicken at a time from the marinade and dredge in the seasoned flour mixture until thoroughly coated on all sides. Place fully coated chicken onto a piece of parchment or the rack of a sheet pan to rest. 
  4. Heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  5. Fry each piece of chicken for 6 to 7 minutes or until it reaches 165 degrees internal temperature. You'll probably want to fry for 3 minutes on the first side and then flip it to make sure you're getting the level of browning that you want. Continue cooking on the other side. 
  6. After frying, place finished chicken on a cooling rack over paper towels to drain some of the oil away. 

Notes:

A boneless skinless fried chicken thigh is usually a really good size for a biscuit or sandwich on a small bun. Typically a breast could be too large for your bun, so you may want to butterfly it or cut it into a shape that will more closely fit your bun or bread choice.


The final Cheez-it biscuit sandwich

Cheez-it crusted fried chicken thigh with cheddar beer cheese spread on a cheddar cheese biscuit.