Last week, St. Albans reader David Esque told me he was on a quest to find the "world's best" hot bologna sandwich.
He had heard that "Mom" Smiley used to make a good one back in the late '50s and early '60s at Smiley's Restaurant in St. Albans and, more recently, that Andy's in Institute had a nice one. He wondered if readers might have those recipes or any others worth trying.
David, did they ever. Keep reading ...
"In response to your appeal for a hot bologna sauce, attached is the recipe from Ross' Pool Room in Dunbar," said Dr. Dave Santrock. "Ross' was located on Dunbar Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets in the '40s and '50s. I am not sure when it closed.
"I do remember the Smiley's in St. Albans and believe it surpassed Ross', but I have no clue as to the recipe."
"I grew up in Buffalo in Putnam County and there used to be a restaurant here back in the '60 and '70s that a woman named Geraldine Johns ran," said Leah Higginbotham. "The restaurant is no longer here, but she now works at the Buffalo Diner.
"She was known for her hot bologna sandwiches. She is in her 80s now but continues to work the early shift at the Diner. I don't think bologna sandwiches are on the menu, but I'm sure she could still whip one up."
"The hot bologna sandwich is just one of those foods: the simpler, the better," wrote Kasey Warner. "I have truly eaten 100 variations and always come back to the simplest ...
"Fry the bologna (at least half-inch thick) with a few cuts on the edges to prevent the meat from curling up, about a minute per side on medium heat. Slather the bologna with plain yellow mustard, put it between slices of simple white bread and fry both sides 'til golden brown - like a grilled cheese sandwich, another simple original.
"It is THAT simple. It is the best recipe, and it shouldn't be messed with."
Granted, he said, you can add stuff you like. He occasionally adds mayonnaise, a favorite BBQ sauce, some sliced jalapenos, dill pickles or cheese.
"But nothing beats simple mustard on fried bologna between white bread and grilled."
The State Journal's Ann Ali swears by one from Tricky Fish.
"Are you still looking for hot bologna candidates?" she Tweeted. "Tricky Fish has one of my faves. It's thick-cut with great melted cheese, buttery toasted bread and a spicy sauce. YUM!"
Reader Patricia Maynard got straight to the point.
"Buy one slice of beef bologna sliced on No. 8 (yes, I said 8) and cut slits on four sides. Heat skillet up and add about a tablespoon of bacon grease, more if you like, and fry bologna until lightly brown. Turn and fry other side until lightly brown, then keep turning until it's almost burnt.
"Serve with grilled onions and mustard," she said. "The best!!! Yum. Enjoy!"
For those in the dark, deli meat is usually sliced on a thickness scale from 1 to 10, so 8 is pretty substantial.