Make better Subs and Clubs

A Sub is a Club I want to be a member of.

Read Time: 6 minutes

The turkey, bacon club is one of my favorite sandwiches. But much like a BLT, a club sandwich is dependent on the seasons. Today I want to write about how you can enhance your sub/club sandwiches and how to get past the seasonality issues these sandwiches have.

I’m not going to write about the Club sandwich backstory, because someone else has already done a fantastic job of that. If you want to get deep into the history of the club sandwich, I highly recommend reading this informative edible history of the club sandwich from the Sandwich Tribunal.

A big problem with the club sandwich or the BLT is the T. The tomato is only in season for 2 to 3 months a year unless you grow them yourself. How do we fix this? I have my favorite solution in the tips down below.

Keep reading to learn about the ingredients I use to make my turkey, bacon subs and clubs.

Turkey and bacon sub with provolone
Turkey and bacon club with cheddar and the third slice of bread.

Let’s make some sandwiches

Here are all the ingredients you need:

The two breads

I’ve written about my sub roll before. In fact, I covered it just last week with my shrimp po’boy post. It’s a solid recipe and it’s great for beginner bakers because there aren’t many tricky parts other than rolling and shaping the rolls. The liquid to flour ratio is such that it’s not too sticky or messy to work with which also will help novice and experience bakers alike. I’ve even made it without my stand mixer, so you don’t necessarily need any special tools to make this dough. Give it a shot on your next sub night.

Note: your bread will be better if you use a kitchen scale and weigh out the ingredients in grams.

3 hours
Sub sandwich rolls

This is a great recipe to use when you need a sub sandwich roll. These sub rolls are not too crusty with a soft interior and pleasant chew for a sub sandwich, cheese steak, or po-boy.

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The bread I chose to make the club-style sandwiches was King Arthur Baking’s Harvest Grains bread recipe. Often, for sandwiches like these, I will just make a quick white sandwich loaf or a sourdough sandwich loaf, but I really like the texture that the nuts/seeds bring to the mix in this recipe.

Bounded by Buns Sub sandwich rolls
King Arthur’s Harvest Grains loaf

The mayonnaise

Get some good mayo for these sandwiches. Make your own or buy your favorite. This roasted garlic mayonnaise recipe is fantastic, and I used it for almost all of these sandwiches. Make this recipe.

10 minutes
Roasted garlic mayo

You like sandwiches. Sandwiches like you. You need this roasted garlic mayo to enhance your love with sandwiches.

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The roasted turkey

Sure, you can buy turkey from the deli for a sandwich, but I like thicker sliced turkey that I baked myself for these types of sandwiches. This Cajun turkey recipe is a super simple way to inject a little flavor into your sliced turkey sandwich. If you are buying your turkey from the grocery deli, I suggest asking them to slice it a bit thicker than usual.

2 hours and 35 minutes
Oven roasted Cajun turkey

A little spicy and super seasoned moist turkey, ready for slicing. Sandwich turkey is at the next level right here.

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The bacon

Most likely, you already know how to make bacon. But if you don’t, it’s very easy if you want to bake it in the oven. With this technique, you can cook a lot of it at once or just a few slices.

The veggies

I often choose plain ol’ iceberg lettuce on these types of sandwiches. I believe that’s probably the classic choice, but if you want something like romaine or green leaf, go for it. In my opinion, if it’s not dressed, the lettuce is just there for the texture. When I’m making a sub, I like to shred or finely chop my lettuce and then dress it. When I’m making a club, I usually just use larger pieces.

Tomatoes are a huge part of a good turkey, bacon club. They’re only good a few months out of the year, so seize that season when you can. When it’s the off-season, I do have an alternative to the tomatoes down below in the tips section.

The cheese

Use cheese if you want. If you look back at club sandwich history, cheese isn’t really a traditional ingredient. Even so, I add a slice of cheese about half of the time when I’m making a turkey, bacon club or sub. Do what you want. Make yourself happy.

The sub

The staging ingredients for a turkey, bacon sub (except mayonnaise).
Cross section of the turkey, bacon sub.

The club

All the ingredients for a turkey, bacon club (except mayonnaise).
Cross section of a turkey, bacon club (including the third slice of bread).

Now that we have turkey, bacon subs or club sandwiches made, how can we improve them?

5 tips for better subs/clubs

  1. Third slice of bread?
  2. Tomato + mayo
  3. Wrap in paper
  4. Dress your lettuce
  5. Off-season tomatoes

Tip one: that third slice of bread.

I reached out to my Sandwich Friend, Jim from the Sandwich Tribunal, to get his feedback on the third/middle slice of bread that is often in the club sandwich on a restaurant menu. Here’s what he had to say:

“Historically, the club sandwich does not include the third slice of bread, but versions of it with three slices have existed for over 100 years. Historically, the club sandwich was defined by the presence of roast fowl and cured pork, but the three slices of bread are a potent visual symbol that is irretrievably associated with the club sandwich at this point. So, despite the fact that the “club sub” does not include a middle slice of bread–thank god, ’cause that would be stupid–and despite the fact that the ubiquitous fast food chicken club sandwich doesn’t include a middle slice–they just slap some bacon and Swiss cheese in there mostly–most people still think of that double-decker construction as the classic club sandwich. I have stopped fighting it. But when I make a club sandwich for myself, I leave it out.”

Jim Behymer – Sandwich Tribunal

I could easily let Jim’s very educated quote speak for itself, but instead I will also reiterate (in my words) the important things he said: The third slice of bread is bull hockey. Stop it! You don’t need extra bread in this sandwich.

Tip two: put your tomato next to the mayo

Club with no third slice and cheddar cheese. The lightly salted tomato on top of mayonnaise is currently making its own sauce.

The tomato and mayo smushed together start to make their own special sauce from the juice of the tomato. When you have an in-season, ripe, juicy tomato, this flavor combination can be a thing of beauty. Put the tomatoes directly on top of the mayonnaise next time and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Salting and black peppering the tomato when you put it in the sandwich also helps because the salt will help draw out the liquid in the tomato. Salting can help an out-of-season tomato, but for a better alternative to that, check out my last tip below.

Tip three: wrap your subs in paper

Wrap your sub sandwiches in paper. I like to wrap hot and cold sub sandwiches, even at home. Wrapping sandwiches was invented to make sandwiches prepared by a restaurant/deli easier to transport from the restaurant to the place where you plan to eat them.

The side effect of this is that it encloses the sandwich and tightens things up to help meld the contents and sauces together. Wrap your cold sandwiches and let them sit for just a few minutes for all the ingredients to mingle. If you’re eating a hot sandwich, you can use aluminum foil and it will keep more of the heat in. An aluminum foil wrapped hot sandwich will also help melt any cheese.

Tip four: dress your lettuce in oil and red wine vinegar

Dressing your lettuce with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar adds so much to a turkey club or sub.

Add olive oil and red wine vinegar to your lettuce or veggies in general. Typically, I grab a small bowl and add my lettuce to that. Pretend like you’re making a small salad and toss your lettuce in just a drizzle of olive oil followed by a splash of red wine vinegar. Add a small pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix everything around a bit and take a taste of a piece of lettuce to see how it tastes. If you like it, add it to your sandwich. Otherwise, now is the time to adjust your simple dressing.

The zing of the red wine vinegar will add so much to your sandwich. Your life will never be the same again.

Tip five: sun-dried tomato spread

A good sun-dried tomato spread changes some of the flavors up a bit, in a very good way. In the off-season when tomatoes at the store aren’t great, buy or make some sun-dried tomato spread and use that instead. Here’s my recipe, it’s quick and easy and adds huge flavor punches to the sandwich.

This is a good recipe to keep in your back pocket. Print it out and fax it to your grandma. Also: tell her you love her.

5 minutes
Sun-dried tomato spread

This spread is great on a sandwich with cheese and meat. A bagel sandwiched with cream cheese on one side and sun-dried tomato spread on the other is fantastic.

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Two halves of a turkey and bacon club stacked, and we substitute tangy sun-dried tomato spread for the out of season tomato slices.
The addition of sun-dried tomato spread is also a great option in the sub as well.

The sub club recap

Make more turkey, bacon subs and clubs! I’m not sure if anyone reads this part, but if you do, thanks for hanging out!

Check back next week when we roll out a breakfast sandwich.

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