Is the lettuce superfluous? Ed sure thinks so. "The bacon gives you smoky, porky, slightly sweet flavor, the tomato is sweet, juicy and lends just a touch of needed acid to the sandwich, the Hellman's mayo is creamy and rich, and the Pullman loaf's crusty edge gives you the crisp crunch some would say the lettuce provides."
Turkey, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and cheese, divided almost always into two layers by an extra slice of bread, make up this lunch staple. Though most people wouldn't recognize a single-decker Club, culinary icon James Beard called it the "authentic" sandwich and the omnipresent double-decker a "bastardization," writing that "whoever started that horror should be forced to eat three-deckers three times a day the rest of his life." The Club is often cut into quarters and pierced with toothpicks.
Seriously, though, because there's no real definition. The Dagwood is defined by its form, not its filling, and even then loosely. Saveur called it a "catchall for whatever ingredients you might have on hand." Webster's mandates only that it be "many-layered," with multiple meats and a few grab-bag toppings.
The pictured version includes 3 slices of rye, 4 types of meat (ham, bologna, salami, and turkey), 2 types of cheese, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, dill pickles, tomato, and, of course, a couple of toothpicked olives for a garnish. That sounds like a Dagwood to us.
Read more: The Dagwood Sandwich recipe
Read more: Elvis Sandwich recipe
But how do you know when your sandwich is no longer a grilled cheese and has become, say, a reuben, or a regular old cheese sandwich? A Grilled Cheese Must...
Be a closed sandwich, griddled on both sides.
Have cheese as the primary ingredient; other ingredients can complement, but not overwhelm the cheese.
Be made with sliced bread. Thus a sandwich made with whole, crust-on loaves like an Italian panini or a Cubano do not qualify.
Be served hot all the way through, with the cheese melted.
Be cooked on a flat, greased surface until golden brown. In extreme circumstances it may be cooked on an outdoor grill over an open fire. A grilled cheese may never be baked.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Pilgrim a.k.a. the Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich
You put the turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on a slice of bread. You pour gravy on everything and add the second slice. And there's your Pilgrim sandwich. The Pilgrim's ingredients can vary as long as it features Thanksgiving leftovers. Here are some of our favorite concoctions.
What about a Reuben made with pastrami or turkey instead of corned beef, and coleslaw instead of sauerkraut? It's called a "Rachel."
Sandwich trivia: If you order a "Sloppy Joe" in or around South Orange, New Jersey, you'll get a meat, swiss, slaw, and Russian-dressing sandwich that's pretty much a Reuben.
Bagel and Lox
Beef on Weck
"The hero is a sandwich of cured Italian meats. These are layered into a forearm's length of fresh crusty bread, often with a few slices of Italian cheese and a condiment or two atop them--pepperoncini, yes; roasted peppers, yes; mayonnaise, an emphatic no. Also, perhaps, a splash of vinegar, certainly a drizzle of olive oil. Some ground pepper, a sprinkle of salt. But no more. No sun-dried tomatoes sully the interior of a true hero, no pesto, no Brie, no fancy pants ingredients at all."
Read more: The Food Lab: Wicked Good Lobster Rolls; Reconsidering the Lobster (and Hot Buttered Lobster Rolls!); 17 Lobster Rolls We Love in the Northeast; Lobster Roll Rumble: 19 Lobster Rolls We Ate; 10 Lobster Rolls We Love in and Around Portland, Maine; Serious Eats Talk: What do you put in your lobster roll?
New Jersey Pork Roll (a.k.a. Taylor Ham)
Read more: Grilled Chicken Spiedies
In North Carolina, your barbecue sandwich will probably be made with chopped pork. In Texas, it's sliced beef brisket. In Kansas, you might get burnt ends dripping with a sticky, tomato-based sauce. No matter the meat, it's the star in this sandwich. The bread's just there to get it to your mouth.
Read more: The Serious Eats Barbecue Style Guide
The ingredients: roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, sliced pickles and mustard on crusty Cuban bread, all toasted in a sandwich press called a plancha. Traditionalists frown upon versions that include ingredients like salami, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato.
Fried Oyster Po' Boy
Pimento Cheese Sandwich
Dry: the beef broth is allowed to drip off the roast beef.
Wet: the roast beef is pulled from the broth and placed directly on the sandwich.
Dipped: the whole sandwich, roll and all, is dunked in the broth.
Read more: The Best Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago
Read more: The 10 Best Jibaritos in Chicago
Read more: Cleveland's Polish Boy
Read more: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich recipe
St. Paul Sandwich
Origin stories for this sandwich vary: maybe the bread on a beef sub was stale, and needed jus for softening. Maybe a customer with sore gums couldn't handle a crusty Italian roll dry. Maybe a server accidentally dropped the sandwich into a pan of drippings and served it anyway, to a police officer who was so delighted by the taste that he came back, with friends, for more. Whatever circumstances birthed this beefy beauty, they were lucky ones for the Los Angeles restaurants soon overrun by customers in search of the soggy, salty satisfaction of the now-classic au jus sandwich.