Eastern Kentucky cuisine has a few iconic dishes (soup beans, chili buns, corn bread, fried catfish, hot brown, burgoo et al) but perhaps none approaches the importance of the fried baloney sandwich.

I use it as a barometer when I’m traveling through the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky, hitting the roadside diners and gas stations in search of sustenance.

If the joint offers this dish then you know there are are some dyed-in-the-wool, old-school Kentucky cooks working thereabouts.

A good fried baloney sandwich must incorporate several elements in its construction.

They are as follows:

White bread: Sure there are some fancy lads out there who crow at dawn for whole wheat bread but they are far removed from the sensible country folk who know that white bread (Kerns bakery?) is THE foundation of a good fried baloney sandwich. Mayonnaise: My family split into two camps on this important issue. The maternal side (good people one and all except for this) championed Miracle Whip a vile substance that serves as a material comrade in arms with equally disgusting ketchup.

The paternal side loved the wholesome goodness of a well-made mayonnaise. Eggs, oil, perhaps a little salt. None of the weirdness I’ve come to associate with the factory of horrors issue; miracle whip. Sweet onion: A yellow onion, raised on southern soil, sliced just right is an essential component of the fried baloney sandwich.

That’s it. Yes, you may put cheese on a fried baloney sandwich but it turns into a different beast altogether. More on that later.

Fried Baloney Sandwich Recipe: Ingredients:

* 2 Slices Baloney, Thick cut, each slice lightly scored at the noon, 3pm, 6pm and 9 pm positions {prevents cupping of the meat}

* 2 Slices Bread, White * Onion, Sweet, Thinly sliced

* Mayonnaise, enough for spreading

Method:

* Heat cast iron pan til good and hot

* Place baloney in un-oiled pan

* Cook til nicely browned

* Spread a skift of mayonnaise on each slice of white bread

* Add thinly sliced sweet onion, some folks like it on the top, some like it on the bottom. Me I’m a top but if you’re a bottom that’s alright too.

* Add fried baloney

* Compact everything into the classic sandwich format

* Voila! Now you’re ready to eat one of the great delicacies of Kentucky cuisine: the fried baloney sandwich.

Typical side dishes for this treat are Grippos, Hussman or Charles brand potato chips, a dill pickle spear and an ice cold bottle of Pepsi Cola

An alternate version of this dish is the Fried Baloney Grilled Cheese.

Here’s how you do that: You must fry the baloney til crisp whilst separately constructing a rudimentary grilled cheese. Two slices of white bread,ample butter, American cheese (two slices). Grill open-faced til slightly warm. Place the crispy baloney between the two slices of bread, close the bread and mash with a spatula. Voila once again! Sometimes you might get tired of one or the other so you have a second classic Kentucky sandwich in your repertoire.

Bon Appetit y’all

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