I wrote this recipe for the generation that didn’t grow up eating this fifties classic. Believe it or not, turkey, ham, cheese, and strawberry jam is not as awful as it sounds. Once you try it, you’ll choose this deep-fried retro combo as your special-occasion sandwich too. Pile the crispy wedges onto a platter, dust with powdered sugar, and watch to see who fights over the last piece.
For grilling the bread, I prefer to use a home-style panini machine, a two-sided grill that resembles a waffle iron. The heavy metal grills apply pressure and heat to both sides of the bread or sandwich at once. There's no flipping necessary, and you don't need to exert any extra pressure on the sandwiches as they grill. Turn the panini machine to high and allow it to heat up for 5-10 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to the grill, placing them side by side without overcrowding them. (Most home-style panini grills have room for two sandwiches or two slices of bread.) Close the top grill and cook them for a few minutes, until the bread is lightly browned. This practical and easy-to-use machine is the fastest, most efficient method for making grilled sandwiches.
If you don't own a panini grill, other techniques work fine. You can achieve the same effect with the coffee-shop method, using a heavy-bottomed pan, or better yet, a well-seasoned cast iron skillet with some clarified butter. Place a tablespoon or so of the clarified butter in the skillet and cook the assembled sandwich over medium heat, covered with a lid. WHen the bottom side turns golden brown, flip the sandwich over and move it around so it absorbs some if the butter around the edge of the skillet, adding more butter if necessary.
Cooking Methodfrying, grilling
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together, game day
Recipe Coursemain course
Taste and Texturechewy, crisp, sharp, sweet
Type of Dishsandwich
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup club soda
- 1½ cups dark beer
- 6 slices white or whole-wheat sourdough bread
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, sliced into 18 1/16-inch-thick slices
- 8 ounces smoked ham, such as Black Forest, sliced into 9 1/16-inch-thick slices
- 8 ounces roast turkey, sliced into 9 1/16-inch-thick slices
- 3 tablespoons strawberry jam, plus extra to serve on the side
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- ½ cup powdered sugar
TO MAKE THE BATTER: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cayenne, and salt. Whisk in the club soda and beer. The mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
TO ASSEMBLE THE SANDWICHES: Set half of the slices buttered side down, and cover with the cheese slices, folding them over if they extend past the edges. Layer the ham and turkey over the cheese, and spread the jam over the turkey. Place the top slice of bread on, buttered side up.
Grill the sandwiches (see Note).
Pour the oil into a deep heavy-duty saucepan to fill it halfway. Heat the oil to 350 degrees, measuring the temperature on a deep-fat thermometer.
Cut the sandwiches on a diagonal into thirds, to make 9 triangular pieces.
Stir the batter. Dip each sandwich piece into the batter, thoroughly coating it. Fry the pieces 2 or 3 at a time, being careful not to overcrowd them in the pan. Cook them for about 3 minutes on each side, until they’re nicely browned, and transfer to a paper towel to drain. Allow the oil to come back up to temperature before you fry the next batch of sandwiches.
Place the sandwiches on a platter. Sift a very heavy layer of powdered sugar over them, and serve with a side of jam.
2002 Nancy Silverton