Italian Focaccia Club Sandwich takes a great Canadian classic and puts a memorable Italian spin using ingredients that I love and remember as a child. The end result, a tower of flavor and textures beyond belief, and the most amazing experience of each taste taking its turn to tantalize your palate.
Song of the day: "Partigiano Reggiano" by Zucchero.
Italian........ every time you hear it something happens, excitement, stimulating conversation, travel stories, and most of all food talk. Food is important to Italians, it holds memories intact, it nurtures us, and it is a great way to get a stimulating conversation going that will leave you longing for Italy and a growling stomach to go with it. I was not born in Italy, unfortunately. I always tell Nicoletta a story of how I came to be in the great white north. The story goes something like this:
<<After signing my deal with the upper guides in heaven to re-incarnate to earth once again, my destination was Italy. I knew that I could find my love of lifetimes there and missed her so. I was in the Akashic getting my bearings and information, plus my entrance papers in order, ready to climb into my ether pod and make my way back into physical existence. I was so happy knowing that once again I could share this life with her. I am on my way making my way through the heavenly realms when out of nowhere my archrival hits my pod and sends me into a whirling spin-off course to some God-forsaken land and me yelling "Bastardo". Landing in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in a hospital room with my head clamped with forceps and me holding on for dear life not wanting to come out, but with some force and a bit of a damaged head I was out, distraught and disappointed but also determined with a passion that followed me all my life "destination Italy"! I knew even as a child that one day I will go to Italy and find Nicoletta but as destiny had it, she found me first, with the aid of my cousin Stephanie who had been a long-time pen pal of Nicoletta's. I remember the day I first saw her and it struck me so hard as I had had a dream of a woman coming out of the water with a white lotus on her chest and that day the white lotus appeared and you guessed it, Nicoletta was wearing it and I hoped that she was not thinking that I was gawking at her breasts but was mesmerized by this pure glowing white flower. I knew that I had to be very attentive and alert and not let her slip away. That I did not let happen and on a beautiful summer day in July we were married in an Art Gallery on a terrace with so many beautiful people and me with a smug look thinking "Hey, Bastardo (alias arch-nemesis), you can't stop true love".>>
That's my story that I entertain Nicoletta with many times and each time she laughs, which makes me feel really good inside.
Let's get back to our Italian Focaccia Club Sandwich!
I created this recipe for the Italian Centre Shop, which is one of my favorite places to shop. They have three locations in Edmonton, but I just adore the Little Italy location as it has so much heart and memories in it and really makes me feel like I am at home. The aromas, the conversations, the hustle and bustle of shoppers and workers, most of all I love watching people with their bright eyes looking at all the wonderful products, and on occasion strike up a conversation about food with them and helping them decide on what to buy and what recipes to make, this is a passion of both Nicoletta and I and one of the reasons we started this food blog.
Something that always comes up when you say the Italian store is "the sandwich" an Italian panino filled with so much goodness and is so popular that they usually sell out, perfect for inspiration and one of my favorite childhood things, fresh Italian cold cuts, marinated veggies, cheese, the secret spread, and some good Italian bread. So, in my basket, there is provolone, prosciutto cotto, eggs (organic free-range, of course), roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, Gloria spread, tomato sauce, hollandaise packet, and so many more delicious ingredients and my excitement to create and sink my teeth into this after it is done.
I was just going to use the usual crusty bread, then I saw her so round, and fluffy, with this melted morsels of cheese and spices, calling out to me...yes "THE MIGHTY FOCACCIA". I was sold and my excitement escalated and I am off to our kitchen and my creative bubble of ideas for this Italian Focaccia Club Sandwich to bring to life!
I cut the focaccia in half then trimmed it so I had four nice squares. These would be the dividers for all the different layers of flavor and texture. The edges and pieces leftover I cut up and made bread cubes and some I even soaked in milk and put into a ground pork stuffing which was utterly amazing! The levels of this Italian club goes something like this:
- First stage: toasted focaccia with a plum jam and mayo topped with some provolone, a sprinkle of oregano, some prosciutto cotto, and finishing with another slice of provolone.
- Middle layer: Gloria spread, mayo, grated Friulano cheese, marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers, more friulano.
- Top layer: plum jam, provolone, cooked egg, rose' hollandaise sauce, some grated Friulano, and finally the top bread. Sprinkled with some more grated Friulano cheese!
How does that sound, does that not have your stomach growling and mouth-watering? Mine is as I write this!
I am a bit nervous thinking that I have too many things going on and the flavors will be lost. I better have a taste to make sure, lol. I better do some mouth stretching exercise as this is going to take some pretty big chops to get through. WOW, it is amazing, the crunch and softness of the focaccia with these herbs come through, then the melted cheeses from the provolone to the Friulano are like gooey butter with a side of flavor playing with my taste buds. The cheese is gracefully tinted with the mayo, Gloria spread, plum jam condiments adding such joyfulness to an already happy experience. The hints of oregano adding some balance to the sweet and savory with its peppery herbaceousness, and the prosciutto cotto so sweet, moist, and tender. The marinated artichokes and roasted red peppers are like little bombs of acidic sweetness and earthiness and the egg, oh that egg with its golden hue slithering into every bite leaving traces of the tender egg white to be pondered. That richness and decadence of the rose' hollandaise and egg just balance everything out in a most humble and soothing way.
I am truly amazed at this sandwich. It may look a bit complex, with a lot going on, but in an ever so mysterious way it delivers tidbits of Italian flavors, culture, and tradition in every bite not letting one slip by without being noticed, and a huge smile on one's face as the napkins are flying and faces and hands are being wiped but not after some good finger-licking fun!
If you are wanting an amazing way to start your day, and have always wanted to try some interesting Italian flavors, then pull up a chair, call on those conversational skills, get those napkins ready, and be prepared to be blown away at the spectacular presence and deliciousness of this truly fun and creative Italian Focaccia Club Sandwich!
Italian flavors hosting prosciutto cotto, Friulano cheese, provolone cheese, roasted red pepper spread and a plum jam, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, spots of dried oregano, and a soft cooked egg with a tomato rose hollandaise sauce. The amazing thing is that the egg carried itself through all the flavors and one would think with that much going on it is a bit busy, however, the flavors were spot on and balanced and the sandwiches disappeared very quickly!
- 2 large free range chicken eggs
- 120 g prosciutto cotto
- 100 g sliced provolone
- 140 grams grated Friulano cheese
- 1 x 10 inch round parmesan cheese focaccia
- 3 tsp plum jam
- 2 Tbsp Gloria spread (red pepper, eggplant spread)
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- ⅛ cup of roasted red peppers
- ¼ cup marinated artichokes
- 1 package hollandaise sauce
- 2 Tbsp tomato sauce (Mutti Pizza sauce)
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup milk
- Pinch of oregano
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Cut focaccia in half and cut each half into a nice even rectangle cutting off the round areas. (Keep excess pieces and make bread cubes). Take rectangles and cut into two even squares and cut those in the middle creating 8 total slices.
- Toast these slices in a toaster on a low setting just enough to brown the edges. Butter each slice when you take them out of the toaster.
- Spread jam onto four of the bottom slices. Spread some mayo and red pepper spread on the other slices leaving a top slice to finish each sandwich.
- In a sauté pan drizzle in olive oil, and fry up the eggs on low to medium heat, flipping them after about 1 ½ minutes and cook for an additional 1 ½ minutes.
- In a medium saucepan melt butter, add a packet of hollandaise sauce and whisk well. Take off heat and add milk, basil, tomato sauce, and whisk vigorously and put back on medium to high heat. Keep whisking until it begins to thicken then take off heat.
- Place a slice of provolone on the bottom slice, sprinkle with a pinch of dried oregano and top with two slices of prosciutto cotto and another slice of provolone.
- Place another slice of the toasted focaccia with the red pepper and mayo on top. Sprinkle with grated Friulano and some chopped marinated artichokes and roasted red pepper and some more grated Friulano.
- Place another slice of focaccia with the jam on top, and place a slice of provolone, next, the egg and then a nice drizzle of the rosé hollandaise sauce, and a sprinkle of Friulano.
- Finish with a top slice of the focaccia and slide a medium skewer into the middle to hold the sandwich together. Sprinkle with some grated Friulano.
- Create another sandwich as you have done with this one.
- Heat oven to 350° F. Place sandwiches in an oven safe pan and bake for 10 minutes till cheese is nice and melted.
- Take out of the oven and it is ready to serve.
- Because the focaccia is so soft on the inside I toasted the pieces in a toaster first so that the bread gets a bit crispy would not fall apart from the moist ingredients.
- If there are some ingredients that you are not fond of, improvise and be creative. I am sure it will be delicious!
- Category: Breakfast, Brunch
- Method: Baking/Cooking
- Cuisine: Fusion