One of America’s Favorites – Pig Pickin’

May 3, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A pig pickin’ (also known as rolling a pig, pig pull, pig roast or, among the Cajun, “cochon de lait”) is a type of party or gathering held primarily in the American South which involves the barbecuing of a whole hog (the castrated male pig or barrow, bred for consumption at about 12 weeks old). Females, or gilts, are used as well. Boars (full-grown intact males) and sows generally are too large.

Many Southern families have a pig roast for Thanksgiving or Christmas, graduations, weddings, or summer gatherings. Some communities hold cook-offs during festivals, where cooks compete against one another for prize money.

 

A pig, often around 80–120 pounds dressed weight, is split in half and spread onto a large charcoal or propane grill. Some practitioners use a separate stove filled with hardwood to produce coals which are then transferred under the charcoal grill by shovel; others use charcoal with chunks of either blackjack oak, hickory wood or some other hardwood added for flavor. The style of these grills are as varied as the methods of producing them, some being homemade while others are custom-made.

There is a long-running debate among barbecue enthusiasts over the merits of different fuels. Propane is said to maintain a consistent temperature, whereas charcoal or charwood are often touted as producing better-tasting meat.

The cooking process is communal and usually directed by an authority figure; the host is helped by friends or family. It usually takes four to eight hours to cook the pig completely; the pig is often started “meat-side” down, and then is flipped one time once the hog has stopped dripping rendered fat. Some practitioners clean ashes from the skin with paper towels or a small whisk broom before flipping the hog to help produce high quality cracklings from the skin.

Often the hog is basted while cooking, though the method and sauce used differs according to region. For instance, a typical South Carolina Piedmont-area baste would be a mustard based sauce, an Eastern North Carolina baste is usually a very light vinegar based sauce with red pepper flakes, and Western North Carolina barbecue uses sauce with a ketchup base similar to traditional barbecue sauce.

When the cooking is complete, the meat should ideally be tender to the point of falling off of the bone. The meat is then either chopped or pulled into traditional Carolina-style pork barbecue, or it is picked off the hog itself by the guests. It is from the latter that the gathering gains its name. The barbecue is sometimes eaten with hushpuppies (fried cornmeal, occasionally flavored with onions), coleslaw, baked beans or sometimes Brunswick stew. In South Carolina, it is common to serve pilaf or hash as a side dish. Hash is a blend of leftover pork mixed with barbecue sauce and usually served over rice.

Sweet tea, beer, and soft drinks are often served.

The pig pickin’ is a significant part of the culture of the South; the necessary work and time needed to cook the hog makes it ideal for church gatherings (“dinner on the grounds”) or family reunions, and they can be held virtually year-round thanks to the region’s mild winters. Pig pickin’s are popular amongst the most devoted tailgaters at college football games across the South. The pig pickin’ has been long associated with politics; many local political parties and politicians still use the pig pickin’ to attract people to meetings and campaign rallies.[citation needed] In 1983, Rufus Edmisten, running for Governor of North Carolina at the time, was overheard saying “I’ve eaten enough barbecue. I am not going to eat any more. I’m taking my stand and that is it.”

Culturally and culinarily different from traditional Deep South pig pickin’ events, pig roasts are a common occurrence in Cuba, as well as the non-mainland American state of Hawaii, with roasts being done in the traditions of those places.

One of America’s Favorites – Chimichanga

April 26, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Chimichanga

A chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito that is common in Tex-Mex and other Southwestern U.S. cuisine. The dish is typically prepared by filling a flour tortilla with various ingredients, most commonly rice, cheese, beans, and a meat such as machaca (dried meat), carne adobada (marinated meat), carne seca (dried beef), or shredded chicken, and folding it into a rectangular package. It is then deep-fried, and can be accompanied by salsa, guacamole, sour cream, or carne asada.

The origin of the chimichanga is uncertain. By some accounts, it originated in Mexico, in others, by accident in Arizona, United States. Given the variant chivichanga, specifically employed in Mexico, one derivation indicated that immigrants to the United States brought the dish with them, mainly through Sonora into Arizona. The words chimi and changa come from two Mexican Spanish terms: chamuscado (past participle of the verb chamuscar), which means seared or singed, and changa, related to chinga (third-person present tense form of the vulgar verb chingar, a rude expression for the unexpected or a small insult.

One of America’s Favorites – Chimichanga

A chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito that is common in Tex-Mex and other Southwestern U.S. cuisine. The dish is typically prepared by filling a flour tortilla with various ingredients, most commonly rice, cheese, beans, and a meat such as machaca (dried meat), carne adobada (marinated meat), carne seca (dried beef), or shredded chicken, and folding it into a rectangular package. It is then deep-fried, and can be accompanied by salsa, guacamole, sour cream, or carne asada.

Chimichanga from Amigos in Melbourne, Australia.

The origin of the chimichanga is uncertain. By some accounts, it originated in Mexico, in others, by accident in Arizona, United States. Given the variant chivichanga, specifically employed in Mexico, one derivation indicated that immigrants to the United States brought the dish with them, mainly through Sonora into Arizona. The words chimi and changa come from two Mexican Spanish terms: chamuscado (past participle of the verb chamuscar), which means seared or singed, and changa, related to chinga (third-person present tense form of the vulgar verb chingar), a rude expression for the unexpected or a small insult.

According to one source, Monica Flin, the founder of the Tucson, Arizona, restaurant El Charro, accidentally dropped a burrito into the deep-fat fryer in 1922. She immediately began to utter a Spanish profanity beginning “chi…” (chingada), but quickly stopped herself and instead exclaimed chimichanga, a Spanish equivalent of “thingamajig”. Knowledge and appreciation of the dish spread slowly outward from the Tucson area, with popularity elsewhere accelerating in recent decades. Though the chimichanga is now found as part of the Tex-Mex cuisine, its roots within the U.S. are mainly in Tucson, Arizona.

Woody Johnson, founder of Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen, claimed he had invented the chimichanga in 1946 when he put some burritos into a deep fryer as an experiment at his original restaurant Woody’s El Nido, in Phoenix, Arizona. These “fried burritos” became so popular that by 1952, when Woody’s El Nido became Macayo’s, the chimichanga was one of the restaurant’s main menu items. Johnson opened Macayo’s in 1952. Although no official records indicate when the dish first appeared, retired University of Arizona folklorist Jim Griffith recalls seeing chimichangas at the Yaqui Old Pascua Village in Tucson in the mid-1950s.

According to data presented by the United States Department of Agriculture, a typical 183-gram (6.5-ounce) serving of a beef and cheese chimichanga contains 443 calories, 20 grams protein, 39 grams carbohydrates, 23 grams total fat, 11 grams saturated fat, 51 milligrams cholesterol, and 957 milligrams of sodium.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Texas Toast

April 19, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A slice of Texas toast on top of a bagged loaf of bread.

Texas toast is a toasted bread with butter, and often garlic, that is often made from a type of packaged bread that has been sliced at double the average thickness of most sliced breads. The Texas toast loaf itself is often more squarish compared to most sliced breads which have a more curved side and top. While Texas toast bread can be used in the same manner as ordinary bread slices such as in sandwiches, it is especially useful for dishes involving liquids, such as barbecue sauce, or where extra thickness could improve the product, such as French toast. In addition, the often increased thickness of the slices of Texas toast lets it retain moisture and softness better than regular sliced bread. It is usually a white bread although there are whole wheat varieties. Producers of Texas toast in the United States include Franz Bakery, Mrs. Baird’s, and Safeway/Lucerne Foods.

Popular in Texas and its bordering states, Texas toast is often served as a side with southern-style dishes such as chicken fried steak, fried catfish, or BBQ. Texas toast can also be used when making toasted sandwiches.

The actual toast itself is made by putting butter or margarine on both sides of the bread and broiling or grilling it until it is a lightly golden brown. Depending on the recipe, the spread may contain seasonings including garlic, yielding a form of garlic bread. The toast may include cheese on one or both sides, similar to an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich.

The best-selling varieties of Texas toast are frozen breads, sold with a garlic or garlic and cheese spread which is applied immediately after baking. The best selling brands are the New York Brand of the T. Marzetti Company, Pepperidge Farm, and Coles.

Mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese Texas toasts

Some recipes suggest regular or thick-sliced bread be cooked in a frying pan alongside fried steak, bacon, or other meat product in order to absorb the grease from the meat (cf. fried bread).

One claimant to the invention of Texas toast is Kirby’s Pig Stand. The once-thriving chain, whose heyday in the 1940s saw over 100 locations across the United States, also claims to be the originator of the onion ring. Texas toast may have been first created in 1946 at the Pig Stand in Denton, Texas, after a bakery order for thicker slices of bread resulted in slices too thick for the toaster and a cook, Wiley W. W. Cross, suggested buttering and grilling them as a solution. Another Pig Stand cook in Beaumont, Texas claimed he created the idea of grilling the bread. W.W.W. Cross is also credited for combining the Texas toast with chicken fried steak to create Kirby’s Pig Stand’s famous Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich.

One of America’s Favorites – Chicago-Style Hot Dog

April 12, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Chicago-style hot dog

A Chicago-style hot dog, Chicago Dog, or Chicago Red Hot is an all-beef frankfurter on a poppy seed bun, originating from the city of Chicago, Illinois. The hot dog is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. The complete assembly of a Chicago hot dog is said to be “dragged through the garden” due to the many toppings. The method for cooking the hot dog itself varies depending on the vendor’s preference. Most often they are steamed, water-simmered, or less often grilled over charcoal (in which case they are referred to as “char-dogs”).

The canonical recipe does not include ketchup, and there is a widely shared, strong opinion among many Chicagoans and aficionados that ketchup is unacceptable. A number of Chicago hot dog vendors do not offer ketchup as a condiment.

Many sources attribute the distinctive collection of toppings on a Chicago-style wiener to historic Maxwell Street and the “Depression Sandwich” reportedly originated by Fluky’s in 1929 The founders of Vienna Beef frankfurters—the most common brand served today, first sold at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago—and the proprietors of Fluky’s were both Jewish, which may account for the wieners’ pork-free, kosher-style character.

A char-dog with ends cut cervelat-style

The “dragged through the garden” style is heavily promoted by Vienna Beef and Red Hot Chicago, the two most prominent Chicago hot dog manufacturers, but exceptions are common, with vendors adding cucumber slices or lettuce, omitting poppyseeds or celery salt, or using plain relish or a skinless hot dog. Several popular hot dog stands serve a simpler version: a steamed natural-casing dog with only mustard, onions, plain relish and sport peppers, wrapped up with hand-cut french fries, while the historic Superdawg drive-ins notably substitute a pickled tomato for fresh. Many vendors, including Portillo’s, offer a Chicago-style dog with cheese sauce, known as a cheese-dog.

Chicago-style hot dogs are cooked in hot water or steamed before adding the toppings. A less common style is cooked on a charcoal grill and referred to as a “char-dog”. Char-dogs are easily identifiable because very often the ends of the dog are sliced in crisscross fashion before cooking, producing a distinctive cervelat-style “curled-x” shape as the dog cooks. Some hot dog stands, such as the Wieners Circle, only serve char-dogs.

The typical beef hot dog weighs 1/8 of a pound or 2 ounces (57 g) and the most traditional type features a natural casing, providing a distinctive “snap” when bitten.

The buns are a high-gluten variety made to hold up to steam warming, typically the S. Rosen’s Mary Ann brand from Alpha Baking Company.

Chicago-style hot dog at Portillo’s

The Chicago area has more hot dog restaurants than McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King restaurants combined. A “hot dog stand” in Chicago may serve many other items, including the Maxwell Street Polish, gyros, pork chop and Italian beef sandwiches, corn dogs, tamales, pizza puffs and Italian ice. The restaurants often have unique names, such as The Wieners Circle, Gene & Jude’s, Gold Coast Dogs or Mustard’s Last Stand; or architectural features, like Superdawg’s two giant rooftop hot dogs (Maurie and Flaurie, named for the husband-and-wife team who own the drive-in). One of the most popular vendors of the Chicago-style dog are Chicago’s professional sports teams; in fact, those sold at Wrigley Field are affectionately known as “Wrigley Dogs”.

Portillo’s is the top vendor of this variation of hot dog regionally. After Portillo’s, Boz Hot Dogs (aka Bozo’s) and Scooby’s Red Hots have the most locations and thus also are top vendors of Chicago Style Red Hots.

One of America’s Favorites – Finger Steaks

April 5, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A finger steak

Finger steaks consist of 2–3” long by 1/2″ wide strips of steak (usually top sirloin), battered with a tempura-like or flour batter, and deep-fried in oil. Typically they are served with French fries and a buttered piece of thick toast. They are commonly found in restaurants, bars, and fast-food joints (either handmade or of the frozen variety) in Southern Idaho and less frequently in nearby states but are not well known outside the Inland Northwest.

Finger steaks are purported to have been first served in a restaurant setting at Boise, Idaho’s “Milo’s Torch Lounge” (aka The Torch) in 1957. Milo Bybee claimed to have invented finger steaks while wondering what to do with leftover tenderloin scraps when he was working as a butcher for the U.S. Forest Service in McCall. Bybee went to work as a chef at the Torch in 1946. According to a local lifestyle reporter, Milo’s claim of inventing finger steaks is questioned and that it may have been passed onto him by the original owners of The Torch. Either way, their origin is so closely tied to Idaho that one suggestion for the Idaho state quarter design was to “do something with the fact that Idaho is the home of finger steaks” submitted to the state arts commission on a napkin.

Finger steaks were produced as a frozen food by B and D Foods, which was founded in 1972 to supply its Signature Finger steak to a chain of fast food restaurants, the Red Steer, a now defunct chain of fast food burger joints in Idaho.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Loco Moco MONDAY

March 29, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A loco moco plate lunch, with soba noodles (left) and macaroni salad (right)

Loco moco is a dish featured in contemporary Hawaiian cuisine. There are many variations, but the traditional loco moco consists of white rice, topped with a hamburger, a fried egg, and brown gravy. Variations may include bacon, ham, Spam, tofu, kalua pork, Portuguese sausage, teriyaki beef, teriyaki chicken, mahi-mahi, shrimp, oysters, and other meats.

 

The dish was reportedly created at the Lincoln Grill restaurants in Hilo, Hawaii, in 1949 by its proprietors, Richard Inouye and his wife, Nancy, at the request of teenagers from the Lincoln Wreckers Sports club seeking something that differed from a sandwich, was inexpensive, and yet could be quickly prepared and served. They asked Nancy to put some rice in a bowl, a hamburger patty over the rice, and then top it with brown gravy. The egg came later. The teenagers named the dish Loco Moco after one of their members, George Okimoto, whose nickname was “Crazy”. George Takahashi, who was studying Spanish at Hilo High School, suggested using Loco, which is Spanish for crazy. They tacked on “moco” which “rhymed with loco and sounded good”. To Spanish-speakers, however, the name can sound very odd, given that they hear it as “crazy snot” (moco is Spanish for “mucus”).

Fish loco moco

This dish was featured on the “Taste of Hawai’i” episode of Girl Meets Hawai’i, a Travel Channel show hosted by Samantha Brown. The episode features the dish being served at the popular restaurant, Hawaiian Style Cafe, in Waimea together with the plate lunch, another Hawaiian specialty dish.

The loco moco was also featured on a Honolulu-based episode of the Travel Channel show Man v. Food (this episode aired in the show’s second season). The host, Adam Richman, tried the dish at the Hukilau Café, located in nearby Laie. Richman also tried an off-the-menu loco moco at a San Francisco eatery called Namu Gaji on his 2014 show, Man Finds Food. In 2018, on a different episode of the revived Man v. Food, host Casey Webb tried a loaded version of the loco moco at Da Kitchen in Maui.

One of America’s Favorites – Peanut Butter Cookies

March 22, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 4 Comments
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Peanut butter cookies with peanut chunks

A peanut butter cookie is a type of cookie that is distinguished for having peanut butter as a principal ingredient. The cookie originated in the United States, its development dating back to the 1910s. If crunchy peanut butter is used, the resulting cookie may contain peanut fragments.

 

George Washington Carver (1864-1943), an American agricultural extension educator, from Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute, was the most well known promoter of the peanut as a replacement for the cotton crop, which had been heavily damaged by the boll weevil. He compiled 105 peanut recipes from various cookbooks, agricultural bulletins and other sources. In his 1925 research bulletin called How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption, he included three recipes for peanut cookies calling for crushed or chopped peanuts.

It was not until the early 1930s that peanut butter was listed as an ingredient in the cookies.

Peanut butter fork scored cookies

Early peanut butter cookies were either rolled thin and cut into shapes, or else they were dropped and made into balls; they did not have fork marks. The first reference to the famous criss-cross marks created with fork tines was published in the Schenectady Gazette on July 1, 1932. The Peanut Butter Cookies recipe said: “shape into balls and after placing them on the cookie sheet, press each one down with a fork, first one way and then the other, so they look like squares on waffles.”

Pillsbury, one of the large flour producers, popularized the use of a fork in the 1930s. The Peanut Butter Balls recipe in the 1933 edition of Pillsbury’s Balanced Recipes instructed the cook to press the cookies using fork tines. These early recipes do not explain why the advice is given to use a fork, though. The reason is that peanut butter cookie dough is dense, and unpressed, each cookie will not cook evenly. Using a fork to press the dough is a convenience of tool; bakers can also use a cookie shovel (spatula).

One of America’s Favorites – Burnt Ends

March 15, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Beef brisket with burnt ends.

Burnt ends are flavorful pieces of meat cut from the “point” half of a smoked brisket. When brisket muscles are separated, the lean “first cut” or “flat cut” is the deep pectoral, while the fattier “point”, also known as the “second cut”, “fat end”, or “triangular cut”, is the superficial pectoral. A traditional part of Kansas City barbecue, burnt ends are considered a delicacy in barbecue cooking. Either the entire brisket is cooked whole, then the point end removed and cooked further, or the point and flat are separated prior to cooking. Due to the higher fat content of the brisket point, it takes longer to fully cook to tender and render out fat and collagen. This longer cooking gave rise to the name “burnt ends”. Sometimes when the flat is done, the point is returned to the smoker for further cooking. Some cooks re-season the point at this time.

Kansas City style burnt ends are usually served chopped with sauce either on top or on the side. A “proper” burnt end should display a modest amount of “bark” or char on at least one side. Burnt ends can be served alone (sometimes smothered in barbecue sauce) or in sandwiches, as well as in a variety of other dishes, including baked beans and French fries.

Kansas City native Calvin Trillin is often credited with popularizing burnt ends. In a 1972 article he wrote for Playboy about Arthur Bryant’s restaurant in Kansas City, he wrote: “The main course at Bryant’s, as far as I’m concerned, is something that is given away free – the burned edges of the brisket. The counterman just pushes them over to the side and anyone who wants them helps himself. I dream of those burned edges. Sometimes, when I’m in some awful, overpriced restaurant in some strange town, trying to choke down some three-dollar hamburger that tastes like a burned sponge, a blank look comes over me: I have just realized that at that very moment, someone in Kansas City is being given those burned edges for free.”

One of America’s Favorites – Horseshoe Sandwich

March 8, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Horseshoe Sandwich

The horseshoe is an open-faced sandwich originating in Springfield, Illinois, United States. It consists of thick-sliced toasted bread (often Texas toast), a hamburger patty, cheese sauce, and then French fries.

While hamburger has become the most common meat on a horseshoe, the original meat was ham. The “horseshoe” name has been variously attributed to the horseshoe-like shape of a slice of bone-in ham, or to the horseshoe-like arrangement of potato wedges around the ham.

It’s not uncommon to substitute other meat for the hamburger, such as chicken or ham, or use more than one type of meat. The fries may also be substituted with tater tots, waffle fries, or other forms of fried potatoes.

Though cheese sauces vary by chef, it is generally derived from Welsh rarebit. Common ingredients include eggs, stale beer, butter, sharp cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, flour, dry mustard, paprika, salt and pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper.

A smaller portion, with one slice of bread and one serving of meat, is called a pony shoe.

A breakfast horseshoe is also available. The hamburger and French fries are replaced with sausage or bacon, eggs, and hash browns. The cheese sauce can also be substituted with milk gravy.

Ross’ Restaurant in Bettendorf, Iowa is known for a similar dish called the Magic Mountain. Instead of a hamburger patty, the sandwich contains steamed loose-meat. It has been enjoyed by politicians and celebrities including Barack Obama and Bette Midler.

The horsehoe was invented at the Leland Hotel in Springfield, but its inventorship has been the subject of controversy. The sandwich was created in 1928 by Leland Hotel chef Joe Schweska. His kitchen assistants included Tony Wables and Steve Tomko, who has also sometimes been credited as the inventor of the horseshoe and who served the horseshoe in his own restaurants later on. The Leland, located on the corner of Sixth and Capitol (now an office building), was one of Springfield’s leading hotels. It was built in 1867 and has housed hundreds of prominent Americans. The structure is five stories high and contained 235 rooms. Chef Tomko also took his horseshoe recipe to the Red Coach Inn after leaving the Leland Hotel.

In the 2015 Thomas’ Breakfast Battle, hosted by Thomas’ Breads, Mike Murphy won a $25,000 prize for his breakfast horseshoe. The contest featured chefs from throughout the country combining local flavor with Thomas’ English muffins. Murphy’s winning horseshoe included eggs, bacon, cheese sauce, sausage gravy and hash browns on top of the English muffin. He prepared the dish on an episode of Fox & Friends to promote the contest.

One of America’s Favorites – Tuna Fish Sandwich

March 1, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Tuna sandwich

A tuna sandwich, also known as a tuna fish sandwich, is a sandwich made from canned tuna—usually made into a tuna salad by adding mayonnaise, and sometimes other ingredients such as celery or onion—as well as other common fruits and vegetables used to flavor sandwiches. Common variations include the tuna boat (served on a bun or roll) and the tuna melt (served with melted cheese). The more general term of tuna sandwich may also refer to cuisine utilizing filet of raw or cooked tuna, rather than canned tuna.

In the United States, 52% of canned tuna is used for sandwiches. The tuna sandwich has been called “the mainstay of almost everyone’s American childhood.

A tuna fish sandwich is usually made with canned tuna mixed with mayonnaise and other additions, such as chopped celery, pickles or pickle relish, hard-boiled eggs, onion, cucumber, sweetcorn, and/or black olives. Other recipes may use olive oil, Miracle Whip, salad cream, mustard, or yogurt, instead of or in addition to mayonnaise. The sandwich may be topped with lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, bean sprouts, or avocado in any combination.

 

* A tuna melt has melted cheese on top of the tuna or on a tomato slice and is served on toasted bread.
* A tuna boat is a tuna fish sandwich served in a hot dog bun or long-split bread roll.

A tuna melt sandwich served with French fries

Tuna is a relatively high protein food and it is very high in omega-3 fatty acids. A sandwich made from 100 grams of tuna and two slices of toasted white bread has approximately 287 calories, 96 of which are from fat (10.5 grams fat). It also has 20 grams of protein and 27 grams of carbohydrates.

A larger, commercially prepared tuna fish sandwich has more calories than noted above, based on its serving size. A 6-inch Subway tuna sub of 238 grams has 480 calories, 210 of those from fat, 600 milligrams of sodium, and 20 grams of protein.

 

 

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