April 14, 2014 |

Scrumptious Sandwiches

By Jeffrey Freehof

Pretzel bun, sandwichAdd variety to your sandwich menu


Do you ever stop for just a moment and realize how lucky we are to be in the business of feeding folks every day? Our routines can certainly become a bit repetitive, leaving us with that same old lack-luster routine. Trust me, it never has to be that way. Your customers are excited to come and get your specialties, so menuing even just one unique item can set you apart.

One of the menu categories that sells more than anything else is our sandwiches, and I want to get you excited about offering something so tempting that your customers will be coming back over and over again simply because they can’t get “that sandwich” our of their minds. Think about it –– a sandwich is a perfect hand-held meal that can be eaten on the run, so it’s a perfect menu item for delivery and carryout. It also gives options to folks who may not want pizza.

We’ve got lots of canvases on which to build our sandwiches on, including (but certainly not limited to) sub rolls, whole wheat rolls, ciabatta rolls, baguettes, flat bread, lavash, all kinds of different flavored tortilla wraps and there are finally some pretty decent gluten-free breads available now (opening up a whole lot of doors to excite some gluten-intolerant diners).

roasted red pepper pesto wrap

Tuscan Club Wrap

A sandwich can really make an impression on folks. One of my favorite sandwiches is a grilled corned beef Reuben, and I remember where the best and the worst I ever had and they were both over 25 years ago. How’s that for an impression? The best was at Mother Shapiro’s in Killington, Vermont, and the worst was at a NY-style deli in the Bahamas where they sliced the corned beef wrong, which made it inedible! So whatever you do, make sure it’s done properly and with some careful intention to strive for sandwich perfection!

I want to share five sandwiches that I think are simply fantastic that have been incredibly successful for me.

This first one I call “Eggplant Florentine.” It’s very easy but truly amazing.

You can start by spreading some honey mustard on a fresh sub roll and toast it in the oven with some of your pizza cheese on it. While that’s toasting, fry up a couple of pieces of breaded eggplant and sauté a couple of ounces of fresh spinach and toss a few ounces of roasted red pepper in with the spinach. Place the eggplant, spinach and roasted red pepper on the toasted bun and it really is heaven in your mouth. The fact that this is a vegetarian sandwich is simply a bonus, because non-vegetarians just love this just the way it is!

pesto, roasted, chicken, sandwich

Pesto-Roasted Chicken Sandwich

The next sandwich, which I created six years ago, has brought me great success. I make a garlic cheesy bread as an appetizer. I wanted to find another dish to create utilizing my pesto-roasted pork tenderloin. By simply slicing it and adding it to the cheesy bread and serving it as a sandwich, it was an instant home run. Pesto chicken breast would be a good substitution if you don’t want to bring in pork.

Some of you might be old enough to remember how popular triple-layer club sandwiches cut into four quarters with long toothpicks in each piece to hold it together were. I worked at a diner 30 years ago where we made them and I can assure you they were a real headache to make. Instead, I created a Tuscan Club Wrap that incorporates the key ingredients of a club sandwich including bacon, lettuce and tomato with sliced ham and turkey. Instead of ordinary mayo, I made a Tuscan mayo by pureeing some roasted red pepper, roasted garlic and a touch of pesto and incorporated that into my mayonnaise to create the perfect spread. I tightly wrap all these ingredients in a tomato basil wrap creating a real crowd pleaser. Wraps work fantastic for catering platters.

One day, I realized that folks may love our great sandwich creations but become undecided with so many great choices. This is why I think sliders are a perfect offering so diners can share three or four sliders as a meal or as an appetizer when combined with other appetizers. We make our own homemade meatballs and are getting a bit famous for them, so we offer them on amazing little brioche rolls. Another great slider is a fresh mozzarella Caprese slider with a slice of tomato, fresh mozzarella, and a basil leaf. Think about sliding some of these into your menu choices.

Caprese Meatball Slider

Caprese Meatball Slider

Although Thanksgiving is a favorite fall holiday, I’ve realized that most diners enjoy the compact, hand-held flavor of Thanksgiving all year ’round. That’s why my Thanksgiving Deluxe sandwich was one of my most popular gourmet sandwiches in my pizza shops. I used to make some soft and spreadable stuffing (dressing as they call it in the South) and some mashed up whole cranberry sauce. Add two ounces of stuffing on the grill with four ounces of sliced turkey breast and two slices of bacon.

While that is heating for a minute, I’d spread some cranberry sauce on the bun and melt a piece of cheddar cheese over the turkey and assemble the whole thing. That is truly a holiday in your mouth. There’s just something so comforting about that one which makes it popular any time of year!

I hope I’ve encouraged you to put a few new twists with bread and meat. Now go ahead and put the spotlight on your sandwich board!

Jeffrey Freehof  owns The Garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia. He is a frequent contributor to Pizza Today and a speaker at International Pizza Expo.