Anthony Bourdain's 5-Ingredient Sandwich Is My Favorite—It's So Delicious

Anthony Bourdain, a true food lover, had a favorite sandwich. It’s extremely delicious, requires just five ingredients, and is incredibly easy to make at home.

Anthony Bourdain's 5-Ingredient Sandwich Is My Favorite—It's So Delicious
Anthony Bourdain cut-out next to a photo of his sandwich
Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Laurel Randolph

Finding deliciousness was Anthony Bourdain’s life work. During his world travels, he relished fine dining and simple foods in equal measure.

I’ll never forget when I first heard Bourdain recall one of his favorite dishes, a fried mortadella sandwich. Talk about simple but delicious! In his book Appetites: A Cookbook, he called it a “beloved heap of oozing awesomeness.” So, of course, I had to try it.

What Is Mortadella?

Mortadella is bologna’s grown-up cousin. It is very similar to bologna but has more texture to it thanks to large pieces of fat marbled in the meat. It is generally sliced thin and is a perfect addition to sandwiches. 

Normally you wouldn’t cook mortadella, using it more like a cold cut. This sandwich adds some heat to the Italian meat with very delicious results. Cooking the mortadella melts the big pieces of fat in the meat, allowing the edges to crisp up.

The Key Ingredients

Because this recipe is so simple (just five ingredients), it’s especially important to use high-quality ingredients. It’s what makes the sandwich truly special.

  • Roll: You need good bread to hold these tasty sandwich fillings. A high-quality Kaiser roll or something similar is great. I like to lightly toast the roll on the inside just to crisp it up a bit. 
  • Mortadella: This is the key ingredient to this sandwich. Look for really good, sliced-to-order meat, ideally from a good Italian market. You will need about 6 slices per sandwich (sliced very thin).
  • Provolone Cheese: Accept no substitutes! Use the best Italian provolone available, sliced. The nice thing about provolone is that it melts well and any extra melty pieces will get crispy in the skillet.
  • Mayonnaise and Mustard: I like to mix the classic condiments for a simple sauce. I use a 2:1 ratio for my sauce (mayo to mustard). 
Anthony Bourdain sandwich on a cutting board
Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Laurel Randolph

How To Make Anthony Bourdain’s Favorite Sandwich

This is pretty straightforward and any home cook can make this sandwich happen in a few short minutes. To make one sandwich, you’ll need:

  • 1 sandwich roll, split
  • 6 thin slices mortadella
  • 2 thin slices provolone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Start by lightly toasting the roll. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the mortadella slices in two piles. You want the mortadella in messy piles, not in clean stacks. This will mean more edges and more crispiness. 

Fry the mortadella until it browns on the bottom, about two minutes. Flip the mortadella piles with a spatula. Add cheese to the top of both piles and cook for another few minutes until crisp on the bottom and the cheese has melted. 

Smear your roll with the mayonnaise and mustard. Stack up the cheesy mortadella piles and add them to the roll. Eat this sandwich right away while it’s still crisp and melty. I devoured mine and it's safe to say that Anthony Bourdain's favorite sandwich is also my favorite sandwich.