Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama brings hope to all on Election Night. Time to eat!

When I stop and pause to look at the still images from Grant Park, it's hard not to feel like there is something bigger happening in our world. In this historic time, people of different races, countries and ages are sensing hope and change. While Oprah and Reverend Jesse Jackson provided heartfelt visuals of the emotional night, the bottom line is that our country, in such dire need of inspiration and motivation, is craving leadership and change.

To celebrate the excitement of the evening and anticipation of the coming four years, we treated ourselves to an All-American dinner of club sandwiches, accompanied by red, white, and blue cocktails and cupcakes.

Club sandwiches, when made well, are comforting, filling, and a delightful combination of flavors that leaves you craving more.

The contents of a 'traditional' club sandwiches are up fro debate. Turkey AND ham? Toasted or untoasted? Double decker? Avocado? Toasted double decker white bread with ham, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise are what you will typically find at diners and restaurants across the country. Cut into four triangles and laid on its side to reveal the layers, french fries and pickles are the traditional accompaniments.

For my version of the club sandwich, I wanted to add some additional flavors to it step up. To start with, I purchased boneless skinless chicken breasts and pounded them paillard thin. The day before, I marinated them in garlic, parsley, lemon, salt, pepper, and oil. I also made some parsley aioli by combining Hellmann's, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. My other ingredients included:
  • Fresh brioche bread
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes
  • Arugula
  • Bacon
The key to creating a great sandwiches and having all of the ingredients the same thickness. When it was time to assemble, I grilled the chicken and toasted the brioche. The hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and avocados were sliced thinly. Once the chicken rested, I sliced the pieces thinly on a bias. The parsley and lemon scented chicken shimmered with its juices, guaranteeing a moist sandwich. I lathered the toasted bread with the aioli and started layering: bacon, eggs, chicken, avocado, arugula, tomato. The sandwiches were topped with another sliced of aioli lathered brioche.

The different textures (smooth avocado, crunchy bacon, and creamy aioli, ), different flavors (smoky, aioli, peppery arugula), and different temperatures (warm chicken, cool tomatoes) combined to create an ideal meal. Coupled with some macaroni and cheese prepared by my husband, the celebration of Obama-nation meet our cravings on many levels.

To finish off the meal, I baked bi-colored cupcakes reflecting the colors of our country. I'm not a baker, so these were admittedly mediocre cupcakes (thank you, Betty Crocker) with overly sugared store-bought frosting.
But the effect was there and our high from Obama's success made them taste better than anticipated.

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