Maine’s lobster roll — delectable though it is — is just one of the regional specialty sandwiches found in New England. The Vermonter is a toasted cold cuts sandwich with apple, sharp cheddar, and maple mustard that is popular in the Green Mountain state; one corner of Rhode Island has a mildly spicy veggie-filled version of the sloppy Joe called Woonsocket Dynamite. Choose one, or work your way through all three to fete Dad this Father’s Day.
Makes 4 sandwiches
To make maple mustard, mix 3 tablespoons maple syrup with ½ cup grainy or brown mustard. Opinions differ about the meat filling here; many recipes use either turkey or ham, but I like the combination. The oven is the most efficient way to toast 4 sandwiches at once, but if you’re making fewer, you can easily use a panini press or a skillet on medium-high heat.
8 ½-inch slices cinnamon-raisin, cranberry-pecan, walnut, or hearty multi-grain bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup maple mustard
12 thin slices deli turkey (about ¾ pound)
1 large tart apple, cored and thinly sliced
8 thin slices deli ham (about ½ pound)
½ pound extra-sharp cheddar, thinly sliced
With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread 4 slices of bread with 1½ teaspoons butter each and place, buttered sides down, on a large baking sheet. Spread each with 1 tablespoon maple mustard and top with even portions of turkey, apple, ham, and cheese (leaving about ½ inch from the edges to give room to melt). Spread each of the remaining slices of bread with 1 tablespoon of maple mustard, then press slices firmly into sandwiches, mustard side down; spread tops with remaining butter. Place another baking sheet over the sandwiches and weigh down with 1 or 2 heavy, ovenproof skillets.
Carefully transfer the assembly to the oven and bake until the bottoms are browned lightly and crisp, about 7 minutes. Working carefully, turn the sandwiches over, replace the weights, and bake until the bottoms are browned lightly and crisp, about 6 minutes longer. Cut the sandwiches in half, if desired, and serve.
Makes 6 sandwiches
The Dynamites I sampled recently in Woonsocket were pretty mild; my recipe has more kick, though nothing approaching its truly explosive namesake. Crushed red pepper flakes are the typical heat source, but I like the tang of vinegary hot cherry peppers (or substitute 2½ teaspoons hot pepper sauce). Use any type of roll you like, as long as it’s substantial enough to withstand the saucy filling.
1½tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered and each quarter thickly sliced
3 large Cubanelle or Italian frying peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped into 1¼-inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, chopped into 1¼-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tablespoons Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup tomato paste
1½ pounds ground beef, preferably lean
1 2/3 to 2 cups tomato sauce (about 1 15-ounce can)
3 tablespoons chopped jarred hot cherry peppers, or more, to taste
6 hoagie or similar rolls, split, for serving
In a very large straight-sided saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions, peppers, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften and the edges are just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, sugar, and tomato paste, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute; scrape the mixture into a large bowl and set aside. Return the pan to medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons water, and scrape the bottom of pan to dissolve the fond; add the liquid to the vegetables.
Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the ground beef and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes; tilt pan and spoon off fat if desired. Add the tomato sauce, cherry peppers, 1½ teaspoons black pepper, and the vegetables to the pan, stir to combine, adjust the heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, to meld flavors and thicken, about 90 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if necessary. Remove the bay leaves, divide the mixture among the 6 rolls, and serve at once.
MAINE LOBSTER ROLLS
Makes 6 sandwiches
On the butter vs. mayo question, a Maine friend doesn’t hesitate: “melted butter and celery salt — the only way to go.” But as an interloper from Connecticut, I fall into the mayo camp. If you’re cooking your own lobsters, you’ll need either 5 1-pounders or 4 1¼-pounders.
1 pound cooked lobster meat, cut into ½-inch dice
1/3 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup mayonnaise, or more, to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice, or more, to taste
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter, melted
6 split-top hot dog buns
In a medium bowl, mix the lobster, scallions, mayonnaise, lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, salt, and pepper if necessary, stir to mix, cover, and refrigerate until needed (use within 4 hours).
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Brush the sides of the buns with melted butter and cook until well toasted, about 2 minutes per side.
Divide the lobster salad among the buns and serve.
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