Oh, I love to eat it every day
And if you ask me why I'll say...
-Jingle from a 1970s bologna advert
Bologna is a sausage-type luncheon meat that is unbelievably popular in the United Sates. Pronounced 'baloney', the name is derived from Bologna, Italy, where the similar mortadella sausage is commonly made.
Bologna is virtually devoid of any nutritional value. It is high in sodium, fat and cholesterol, although it is also available in low sodium, low fat and fat-free varieties. Typically, bologna is made of beef and/or pork, sometimes with chicken, with salt, sugar, pepper and other spices. It is ground up to a purée or paste-like consistency to be poured into a natural or synthetic casing.
Pre-packaged bologna is available at the supermarket in thick or thin slices, with or without 'skin' and sometimes with garlic. Every deli counter should have fresh bologna on offer as well, sliced to any thickness the customer desires or unsliced for the customer to slice at home.
Every child in America should, at some time during their primary school years, open their lunchbox to find a bologna sandwich with American cheese on white bread. It's practically a rite of passage.
The Bologna Sandwich
There is an infinite number of ways to create the bologna sandwich, and each of them is the right way. This entry will not even attempt to cover every possible combination, but instead aims to lay a groundwork from which to build a satisfactory luncheon creation for a variety of tastes. It is nearly impossible to make a bad bologna sandwich1.
The foundation of any bologna sandwich will be two pieces of white bread and one slice of any variety of bologna. If you're really hungry, use two slices of bologna. The best cheese to go with bologna is American cheese2.
Bologna can be dressed up with nearly any condiment. Mustard is a favourite bologna companion, but mayonnaise, barbecue sauce or ketchup are equally tasty. Lettuce and tomatoes can turn a light snack into lunch; pickles or pickle relish make for nice variety too.
A basic bologna sandwich:
- Two slices of white bread
- One or two slices of bologna
- One slice of American cheese
- Mustard to taste
Spread mustard on one or both slices of bread. Place the bologna on the mustard side of one piece of bread. Lay the cheese on top of the bologna and top it off with the other slice of bread.
For the Heartier Appetite
Bologna is a staple of the traditional deli sandwich. When paired with combinations of other luncheon meats, a whole other world of bologna possibilities opens up.
Submarine sandwiches are typically made on a crusty roll cut lengthwise with two or three meats, one or two cheeses, lettuce, onions, pickles and tomatoes, with regional variations. Submarines are known by various names across the US, including hero, hoagie, grinder and Poor Boy and can be eaten hot or cold.
A tasty submarine sandwich:
- One six-inch crusty roll
- Two thin slices of bologna
- Two thin slices of salami
- Two thin slices of Prosciutto ham
- Two thin slices of provolone cheese
- Shredded lettuce
- Two or three tomato slices
- Sliced red or white onion
- Ground black pepper
- Mayonnaise to taste
Cut the roll in half lengthwise and spread mayonnaise on both halves. Sprinkle pepper over the mayonnaise, then layer meats and cheese on the bottom half of the roll. Spread the lettuce over the meat and cheese, lay tomatoes and onions on the lettuce and place the other half of the roll on top.
If you're not sure whether or not bologna is bad for you, you can fry it to make certain that it is. Fried bologna is what college students eat when they long for their simpler school days but feel they should have outgrown bologna on white bread and are under typical students' budgetary constraints.
Many fried bologna recipes will tell you to fry in butter or oil. Given bologna's high fat content this isn't strictly necessary, but can be done if you prefer. Bologna will curl or bubble when it is fried: you can prevent this by cutting notches (two or four will do) along the sides of the slice.
A simple fried bologna sandwich:
- Two slices of white bread, or one hamburger bun
- One or two slices of bologna, notched
- One slice of American cheese
- Ketchup to taste
Fry the bologna slices one at a time over medium heat. You can put the cheese on the last piece as it finishes frying if you would like it a little melted, or you can wait until you are assembling the sandwich. Ketchup can be put on either piece of bread. Stack the bologna and cheese on top and crown them with the remaining piece of bread. The bologna may be a bit greasy, especially if you fry it in butter or oil, so you may want to blot it with a napkin before putting it on the bread.
Don't be afraid to try new things. Bologna is one of the more versatile luncheon meats available. Beyond the lunchbox, try a slice of fried bologna with your eggs for breakfast. Add some potato salad and corn on the cob and call it dinner. Cut it up and put it on a cracker with a slice of cheese for snacks or appetisers. Roll a slice around a serving of mashed potatoes for a fun spin on pigs-in-blankets.
A barbecue bologna sandwich:
- One sandwich roll
- Two slices of bologna
- One serving of coleslaw
- Any variety of barbecue sauce to taste
Fry the bologna as described above and place on one half of the roll. Spread barbecue sauce on the bologna, then add part of the coleslaw. Top it off with the remaining half of the roll. The leftover coleslaw makes a nice side-dish.