Anthony Bourdain's 5-Ingredient Mortadella Sandwich That Anyone Can Make

The late, great Anthony Bourdain was all about the sacred and the profane. The tastes of the legendary chef, writer, raconteur, TV personality, and traveler famously ranged from Michelin-starred restaurants to roadside stalls; he was after what was delicious, no matter what its provenance may be. It makes sense, then, that he would hold dear mortadella. Studded with cubes of pork fat and often pistachios, this finely ground cold cut is salty, rich, and an underrated superstar of the sandwich game. Bourdain thankfully shared with the world his secret to constructing the perfect mortadella sandwich, and it's so blissfully simple that just about anyone can put it together.

A New Yorker through and through, Bourdain's sandwich starts with a Kaiser roll much like the kind you'll find encasing other sandwiches in the city's numerous bodegas. Mortadella is the star and here, you need two or three slices, which get heated through and crisped on the edges in a pan or on a flat top griddle. Once the mortadella has some color, top it with a slice or two of provolone and let the cheese melt over the meat. Toast the split Kaiser roll a bit in the same pan then spread the opposing sides with Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, add your meat and cheese, and enjoy. The fat of the meat and cheese will soak into the bread along with the mayonnaise as it yields under the heat with the Dijon adding the perfect piquant counterpoint.

Customize it

Bourdain's mortadella sandwich recipe appears in his 2016 cookbook, "Appetites," and is based on a sandwich he ate at the Bar do Mané in São Paulo, Brazil. While the original features a cheese and roll more prevalent in Brazil, Bourdain swapped them out for ingredients more readily available in the U.S. And just as the chef took culinary liberties with his sandwich construction, so too should home cooks feel free to put their own stamp on a mortadella creation.

Kaiser rolls are a New York staple, but if you can't find them, feel free to swap in an onion or sourdough roll. Keep in mind you want something sturdy enough to stand up to the mortadella and cheese. As to the latter, you want something that melts well, so provolone is a great choice, but Munster, Havarti, Gouda, or even American cheese will do. If Dijon is just too much for you, dial it back with a bit of yellow mustard or, in the opposite direction, amp things up with spicy brown or Creole mustard. Mayonnaise is pretty straightforward here, and almost any brand will do. But if you're loyal to one, like tangy Duke's, then go right ahead with that.

If you need some bracing crunch, layer on dill pickle chips or go sweet with bread-and-butters. A few half-moons of thinly sliced onion wouldn't be out of place either. Just don't get heavy-handed. As Bourdain said in his 2000 cookbook, "Kitchen Confidential," "Good food is very often, even most often, simple food."