There’s a reader over on Serious Eats out of NYC who has a conniption-style hissy-fit every time I mention Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread. Nicknamed “izatryt”, she apparently also can’t stand Velveeta either.
I came back over here this week and searched my blog for the Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread recipe.
It was weird. I didn’t find it.
Ok, so, in that case, I may as well … oh, here it is. My family and I seriously love these eats. Seriously.
“Izzy” jes’ don’ know whut’s good for ‘er.
There’s a deli/butcher shop in Burton, Michigan, called Nehring’s Market. We’re more than acquaintances with the Nehring’s, as Ralph and his wife are my younger sister’s Godparents. Ralph and his crew of cutters make a Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread that tastes almost exactly like this recipe. This recipe is what my mom’s made for decades.
Somewhere down the line, we think mom’s recipe, and what the Nehring’s crew offers in the store, crossed paths and are, in fact, of the same lineage.
Of course, ya’ gotta have good meat. Koegel’s Ring Bologna is the only stuff I’ll use.
Finding the right ring bologna is an important step as it affects the flavor of the finished spread. The most popular ring bologna, such as Ekrich and many others, have roots in the Pennsylvania Dutch communities. But instead, what you want to find is a good German ring bologna, as the Pennsylvania Dutch won’t taste the same whatsoever. Koegel was raised in the city of Durlach, Germany, in the late 1800s. When he was of age he joined one of Germany’s well-respected apprenticeship programs under the supervision of a Master Butcher. In a few years he had earned his Meister Wurstmacher designation, indicating he was a Master Sausagemaker. The product I use, shown above, is his own original recipe from the early 20th century. Find yourself a good local German meatpacker (there are many, such as at Alpine Village in Torrance, California) and use their ring bologna.
In the recipe for Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread, I included a step about skinning the ring bologna before grinding it. At the same time, the hot dogs in natural casings for the Almost Flint-Style Coney Sauce don’t get skinned before being sent through the same grinder. Shortly after finishing this version of mom’s recipe for the sandwich spread, I made a batch for Mary and I … while only glancing at the recipe for ingredient amounts. While grinding the ring bologna, I noticed the ground bologna seemed to stay inside of the grinder more than usual. I thought maybe the disks on the front of the grinder were simply stuffed so, using a butter knife, I dug all the meat out of the disassembled grinder, then finished the batch of sandwich spread.
The following day after eating sandwiches made from this batch for lunch, we had a good laugh (more Mary than myself as it was at my expense!) over having to dig large pieces of ring bologna skin from each bite of their sandwiches.
Make all kinds of good stuff, and to enhance your reputation in the kitchen, make sure you can repeat it. And be sure that I will skin the ring bologna for the Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread from now on.
This lunchtime and picnic favorite is available by the pound in some variation in just about every deli and butcher shop in the midwest. It’s simple to make: kids absolutely love helping grind the ring bologna in the meat grinder. A lot of this recipe doesn’t actually need to be measured. This is one recipe you can make ingredient-by-ingredient, tasting as you go, creating your own flavor, and using different brands and various flavors of each of the ingredients.
The original image for this post, circa 2008.
Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread
1-1/2 lbs ring bologna
2 – 3 baby sweet pickles
3 1/8″ slices from 1 medium-size Spanish onion
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp yellow prepared mustard
1 loaf white bread
1 old-fashioned hand-driven meat grinder
1 8″ x 8″ glass dish
1 large mixing bowl
1 2-quart storage container with lid
Remove any strings or clips off the ends of the ring bologna. Cut the bologna into 4 sections for easier handling. Slit one side of each section lengthwise and remove the casing.
Install discs onto the front of the meat grinder for a fairly small grind and grind the ring bologna into the glass dish. After digging the rest of the bologna out of the grinder, dump the bologna into the mixing bowl.
Finely-chop the sweet pickles till you have about 1/2 cup, and then do the same with the slices of onion. Add the chopped pickle and onion to the bologna in the mixing bowl, then add the mayonnaise and mustard and mix it all together till it’s smooth. Taste it, adding some salt to punch up the flavor if necessary.
Transfer it to the storage bowl and refrigerate the spread until it’s ice cold. Use a fork to put a layer of spread about 3/8″ thick (my kids like it about 1/2″ thick on a slice of white bread, then close with another slice. Serve with kettle-cooked potato chips or steaming-hot French fries.
- Koegel original-flavor ring bologna is the preferred choice. The garlic or pickled varieties also make for an interesting flavor. Other brands from other “real” meat suppliers throughout the state will taste just as good.
- While it’s possible to grind the ring bologna in a food processor, a better texture is created using an old-fashioned hand-driven meat grinder. These are available in specialty and antique shops, commercial food equipment dealers, and the cooking section of Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan.
- Grandma Joyce uses Miracle Whip dressing instead of the mayonnaise. She also grinds the pickles and onions through the grinder instead of chopping them separately. Grinding the pickles and onions also squeezes their juices into the ground bologna, which adds an interesting touch to the already tangy flavor of the Miracle Whip dressing. Oddly enough, she likes my version better, even though she insists on using Miracle Whip for her own batches!