Years ago, our local paper published the recipe for one of my favorite mexican restaurant’s club sandwich. It quickly became a staple at our mealtimes, but has been on an extended moratorium lately. A while back, I was heading out on a longer-than-usual work trip and made a batch of these for BK to eat while I was gone. I know some might think that this was very old-fashioned of me, but really its just practical: I worry that if I don’t make food, I will come home to find BK has starved to death while standing in front of our pantry full of food and insisting that there is nothing to eat.
In any case, after eating four of these sandwiches in a few days, BK informed me he would not be able to stomach another for quite some time. But the other week I informed him that I thought we should lift the moratorium. He agreed we were ready. And I’m so glad. These sandwiches have everything: the four different kinds of protein make it hearty and satisfying; the onion slices provide a nice crunch; the jalapeno and chipotle give it a kick; the avocado adds a wonderful cool creaminess; and toasting it pulls everything together.
They keep pretty well, so feel free to bring the extras for lunch the next day. For best leftover results, I’d recommend assembling ahead of time, but grilling and inserting the avocado right before you eat. If that isn’t possible, make the full sandwich ahead of time and nuke it (with the avocado temporarily removed) for a bit before you eat.
4 slices bacon, cut in half to form 8 short pieces
2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
freshly ground black pepper
4 thin slices ham, cut in half to form 8 pieces
1 ½ tablespoons chipotle adobo sauce (from a can of adobo chili peppers)
1 ½ tablespoons low-fat sour cream
1 ½ tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
4 hoagie rolls or 4 ciabatta rolls about 6 by 4 ½ inches
1 can nonfat refried beans
4 ounces shredded or thinly sliced Chihuahua cheese (may substitute sliced muenster or provolone cheese)
½ cup thinly sliced white onion
2 pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and cut into thin slices
Heat a nonstick grill pan or George Foreman over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp; transfer to drain on paper towels.
While the bacon is cooking, cut each piece of chicken horizontally to form 2 equal portions, for a total of 4; place between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness of 1/2 inch. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper to taste.
Wipe the excess fat from the grill pan or George Foreman, add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes on 1 side until lightly browned, then turn and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the ham to the grill pan or George Foreman for a few minutes to crisp it up a bit. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
While the chicken and ham are cooking, combine the chipotle adobo sauce, sour cream and mayonnaise in a small bowl.
Cut the rolls in half lengthwise. Line them up on a large cutting board or work surface covered with wax paper. Spread the chipotle mixture on the cut sides of the bottom halves of the ciabatta; spread the refried beans on the cut sides of the top halves. Cut the chicken into pieces as necessary to cover the chipotle spread. Layer the ham, crisped bacon and cheese, pressing down as you go. Scatter the onion and jalapeno pepper slices on the cheese, and complete the sandwiches with the top halves of the ciabatta.
If necessary, spray the same grill pan with nonstick cooking oil spray and heat over medium to medium-low heat; as an alternative, heat a George Foreman grill or panini press. Add as many sandwiches as will fit, bottom side down, weighing them down (if using a grill pan) with a heavy cast-iron skillet or a plate with heavy cans on top. If using a grill pan, cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and crisp and turn the sandwiches over and cook about 2 minutes on the second side. If using a George Foreman or panini press, grill for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp . Transfer the sandwiches to the cutting board or work surface and open them between the chicken and ham layers. Add several slices of avocado and sprinkle lightly with salt. Re-close the sandwiches. Invert to right side up and cut in half, pressing down firmly. Serve warm.
Adapted from “Rosa’s New Mexican Table,” by Roberto Santibanez, via The Washington Post, June 2007.