First there was the almighty patty melt made with a hamburger patty. Then the healthy food craze started in the mid 1970's. Tuna melts became the number one American diner restaurant grilled sandwich. The turkey melt became a healthy option too.
I have done some fancy diner cooking during my career. Trendy upscale diner cuisine was a popular trend a few years ago. Diners that served nice presentations of "fancied up" standard diner food with a few nice gourmet ingredients became a hit with customers who wanted a nice quality cheap meal. Diners have always been known as having the lowest prices in the restaurant industry.
When working in a diner, an employee soon realizes that there are several things to overcome. Diner customers are notoriously cheap tippers and the waitstaff that works for that kind of money are not exactly Ritz Carlton material. American Diners are famous for loud rude waitresses, but that is part of the charm of the atmosphere in a diner. Many 24 hour greasy spoon diners get a rush of loud drunken customers after the bars close and that also adds to the charm.
There are many customers who only purchase a cup of coffee and read a newspaper for an hour before walking out the door after leaving a 25¢ tip. Waitresses learn to "take it with a grain of salt" when they get a few of those kind of customers.
The "Greasy Spoon" reputation of diners is a big hurdle to overcome. Many short order cooks are at the starting level of cooking or chef work. Greasy food that is slopped on a plate is the reputation that diner food has. Veteran cooks with bad attitudes often take jobs at diners. There are many professional high quality cooks that work in diners and many of these seasoned cooks had military service backgrounds.
Upscale diners that serve creative gourmet trendy food have changed the reputation of the American diner. Las Vegas has several diners that serve some very fine tasty cuisine at a very low price. Las Vegas even has a 1950's style "red booth" diner with a singing waitstaff that performs 1950's rock and roll shows while serving food. The food at Roxy's Diner is very trendy. The Stratosphere Casino in Las Vegas is where to find Roxy's Diner.
The first time that I had a sandwich with crispy fried onion straws on it was at the Stratosphere Casino. Honestly, I did not even bother to look at the menu, I just sat down and ordered a French Dip sandwich with french fries, because I know that sandwich is on every diner menu from coast to coast. To my surprise, there were delicious crispy fried onions on the French Dip. The beef was freshly roasted and the au jus was home made and not an instant mix. The bread was a well crafted French Baguette. It was the best French Dip sandwich that I have ever had! As a chef, I used to shy away from using crispy onions on sandwiches, but after that French Dip, I really liked the idea!
Patty melts are great with crispy onions instead of grilled onions too. Today, I thought that a turkey melt would be nice with crispy onion straws. Grilled tomato slices are a popular option for a turkey melt. Fine dining chefs occasionally do crave good diner food. Diners are usually the only place that is open after the fancy restaurant dinner hours are over. Many chefs prefer to relax at a diner after work rather than to sit at a bar. Relaxing casual comfort is what late night American diner restaurants are all about!
Crispy Onion Straws Recipe:
This recipe make more than enough onion straws for one sandwich. Snack on the rest or use them to make another recipe!
Cut 1 onion into paper thin slices.
Place the onion slices in a mixing bowl.
Season the onions with sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
Toss the onions with the spices.
Allow the onions to sweat for 10 minutes.
Add just enough flour to coat the onions, while tossing the paper thin onion rings with the flour.
Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360º.
Note: Fry the onions in small batches, so the do not stick together.
Pick up some of the flour coated onions and shake off any excess flour.
Sprinkle the onions into the hot oil, so they do not clump together.
Fry the flour coated onions, till they become golden brown and crispy.
Scoop the crispy onions out of the hot oil with a fryer net.
Place the onion straws on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess grease.
Repeat these last few steps, till all the onion straws are fried.
Set the crispy onions aside on a stove top and keep them warm..
Cheddar Turkey Melt with Grilled Tomato and Crispy Onion Straws:
Heat a griddle or saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
Brush 2 pieces of whole grain bread with melted unsalted butter.
Place a few thin slices of cheddar cheese on the bread.
Add 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter to the pan.
Place 4 to 5 ounces of very thin sliced delicatessen style roasted turkey breast in the hot pan.
Grill the sliced turkey, till it becomes hot.
Place the grill turkey on the cheese on one of the slices of bread.
Grill 2 tomato slices in the pan.
Place the grilled tomatoes on top of the turkey.
Set the 2 slices of bread in the pan and grill the bread, just like making a grilled cheese sandwich.
Place a small mound of the crispy onion straws on the turkey and tomato side of the sandwich.
When the bread becomes toasted golden brown, flip the plain grilled cheese half of the sandwich on top of the crispy onions, tomato and turkey on the other half of the sandwich.
Use a spatula to set the sandwich on a cutting board.
Slice the sandwich in half and set it on a plate.
Garnish the plate with pickles or fruit.
The sandwich in the pictures was served with Persian pickled wild cucumber, Persian pickled turnips, dates and roasted red bell pepper strips.
A grilled turkey melt sandwich is such a nice afternoon meal! Cheddar is a nice flavor of cheese for this sandwich. Grilled tomato add a nice flavor and a light feeling. The crispy onions add a very interesting flavor and crunch. Regular roasted turkey is yummy on a grilled sandwich. Smoked turkey would be nice on this sandwich too.
Pickle products are very popular in Persia and Arabia. Persians do make some very nice pickles that are different than the standard grocery store pickles. I kind of like the hot pink color of the pickled turnips! Persian pickles are available in Persian and Arabic middle eastern markets at a very reasonable price.
This was a nice modern American diner style lunch! Yum! ... Shawna