In the days leading up to our trip to Europe, I whipped through my last issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray in hopes of finding a few simple, new recipes that wouldn't take all of my precious packing time but would also satisfy my SH as he worked feverishly to prepare. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here before, but I'm kind of obsessed with the buffalo wing flavors combo: smokin' hot sauce, the sharp tang of blue cheese, cool chunks of carrot and celery...HEAVEN. Rach, thankfully, is also a big fan, and has devoted a great amount of time to creating recipes that revolve around that particular combination, even a Buffalo Chicken Pizza that I have made time and time again and devoured every bite. You can imagine my delight when my latest mag contained a most delicious-looking recipe for Buffalo Club Sandwiches. The only possible way to improve upon the Buffalo combo? That beloved critical ingredient of a club sandwich, BACON! I decided that I must make them immediately, and that they would particularly serve my purposes well as a good choice for the busy days before we left.
Both of us found the sandwiches to be utterly satisfying. Pan-grilled chicken cutlets doused in hot sauce (I used Cholula, my fave, which is actually hard to find out in Cali!) were planted firmly between two pieces of still-warm, golden crusted slices of toast, which was then slathered with a delectable mixture of creme fraiche, chunks of blue cheese, and scallions. I laid generous slices of peppered bacon, thick juicy hunks of heirloom tomatoes, and a bit of fresh spinach atop the creamy sauce, and then one more slice of toast. One careful slice with my knife, cutting the sandwiches diagonally, restaurant-style, and they were ready for eating.
I should tell you that buffalo wings and all their divine accoutrements are yet another thing to add to the list of "things I never tried until I met my SH." We joke about it now, when he unfailingly asks, every time we eat out, if I've had it before, full well knowing that I am no longer the girl who only ate pepperoni pizza or hamburgers "plain and dry." "Have you ever had pad thai?" "Have you ever tried rogan josh?" "I'll bet you've never tasted grilled sausage like that!" It's funny, because it's not that he ever pressured me to expand my palate a bit more, or teased me for my preferences. It was just being around him, seeing that he was always willing to try anything, and that he liked SO much. Clearly, I was missing out. Not anymore!
8 slices bacon, preferably peppered
1 cup creme fraiche (I'm SURE you could easily substitute sour cream)
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 small glove garlic, grated or finely chopped (I excluded this ingredient, purely because I occasionally find raw garlic a bit too strong for my mood that day)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon EVOO
4 turkey or chicken cutlets, 5-6 ounces each (I used chicken)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup hot pepper sauce, preferably Frank's Red Hot (I used Cholula)
12 slices sandwich bread, toasted
8 leaves bibb or green-leaf lettuce (I had fresh spinach on hand)
4 thick slices tomato, preferably heirloom
Carrot and celery sticks, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Arrange the bacon on a broiler pan and bake until crisp, 15 to 18 minutes.
2. While the bacon is cooking, in a small bowl, combine the creme fraiche, blue cheese crumbles, garlic, mustard, parsley, and chives.
3. In a large skillet, heat the EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Season the turkey/chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, add to the skillet, and cook until golden, about 4 minutes on each side. Scoot the cutlets to the side of the pan, add butter and heat until melted. Stir in the hot sauce and coat the cutlets; turn off the heat. Layer each of 4 toast slices with a sauced turkey/chicken cutlet, another toast slice, a mound of the blue cheese spread, 2 criss crossed slices of bacon, 2 lettuce leaves, 1 tomato slice, a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a third toast slice. Serve the clubs with the carrot and celery sticks.