My father was born in Escatawpa, Ms. He was a driver and general hand for an old Italian gent in Biloxi, Ms. As a result, he could whip up a mean spaghetti sauce, chicken fricassee, or a big pot of spicy red beans. But his favorite food was any part of the pig, preferably ground up, spiced up and shoved into a casing.
He loved sausage, any kind. You would have thought he was a drug dealer. A phone call would come to the house. A low-voiced conversation would be held and he’d be out the door to meet his supplier(s). He’d buy sausage from the back of a raggedy ford pick-up truck, the trunk of a car, or down a dark alley. Needless to say, none of this pork product was government inspected or had a USDA stamp of approval to indicate that it was safe to eat. But he would bring it home wrapped in whatever packaging the seller had available, croaker sack, greasy brown paper bag, whatever.
My mother wanted no part of this enterprise since she was convinced that we were all gonna get sick and die from ptomaine poisoning, so he would use us children to sneak the sausage into the house and hide it in the back of the refrigerator. I don’t think we ever fooled her. She never cooked the sausage or ate it. My father cooked it for us children and himself. He’d fix it for breakfast with hominy grits and eggs or it would go in a pot of red beans and rice or sausage gumbo.
Since my father was such a sausage connoisseur, stands to reason his favorite sandwich would somehow be sausage related. It was – a fried bologna sandwich.
My brother and sister and I would sit at the kitchen counter while he’d explain the finer points of preparing a fried bologna sandwich. Below is my father’s instructions. I don’t think you can rightly call it a recipe.
Austin’s Fried Bologna Sandwich
1. Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with whatever oil you have available and heat the skillet over medium heat.
2. Place in the skillet a good quality, thick-sliced piece of bologna from which you have removed the rind. Cook the bologna until the edges are crispy and slightly charred. Turn the bologna over and cook the other side. Bologna will puff up in the middle, You can make slits into the edges if you wish it to lie flat. Purists just let it puff up.
3. For a breakfast sandwich, place the fried bologna between two slices of white bread along with a fried egg, and some apple jelly. For a lunch sandwich, it’s white bread, bologna, mayonnaise and lettuce and tomato.
I taught my children how to make these sandwiches. When they were young this was a Saturday morning treat. I still make them myself, but, in homage to healthy living, I use grilled, reduced fat turkey bologna and 9 grain bread. Even so, they still make me think of my father, the King of Sausage.