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Jun 16, 2009 09:26 AM

When simple/cheap is better than haute

Do you have any examples of dishes where you prefer the cheaper simpler variety to a fancy rendition? My personal all time favorite food is Shells and Velveeta. I'll add some black pepper but it gets ruined when people try to fancy it up with other cheeses or mustard or whatever else. I've had a million fancy Mac 'n Cheeses and nothing compares. Another good example for me is a Grilled Cheese sandwich. You can keep your garlic or avocado or multigrain bread, give me white bread (wonder bread) and american cheese and nothing else comes close.

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  1. The BLT. Toasted white bread, mayo, standard bacon, iceberg lettuce and a fresh tomato. No niche bacons shrouded in pepper, no complex pestos, no herb-marinated sun-dried tomatoes, no micro greens, no aïoli.

    Just a good old-fashioned diner BLT. With plain chips and a dill pickle spear.


    19 Replies
        1. re: hyacinthgirl

          fourthed, with a side of Kraft box mac n cheese

          1. re: Cinnamon

            fifthed - the perfect sandwich as is

        2. re: cayjohan

          Cay (and the rest of the BLT 5!):

          I know what you're saying. But I had probably the best BLT of my life yesterday and it was in the "haute" category. It was definitely pricey, but oh, so delicious:
          THE BLT
          Applewood smoked bacon. brie cheese. sundried tomato aioli. romaine lettuce. toasted country bread

          I also prefer a grilled cheese (at home) on sourdough bread--American is usually my cheese of choice for comfort food, but I also like havarti with honey mustard.

          That said, on the other side of the coin, there's nothing like "cheese dip"--melted Velveeta with a jar of salsa mixed in and a bag of tortilla chips for dipping. Talk about all that and a bag of chips!

          Guess I'm an equal opportunity eater. ;)

          P.S. to Cay re diner BLT--our local diner serves jalapeno bacon, which is FAB...but I believe their standard BLT is as you describe it.

          1. re: kattyeyes

            Oooooh yes, I forgot to mention cheese dip. Good call, kattyeyes!


            1. re: LeahBaila

              Or Velveeta melted with Hormel chili. I won't cop to making it, but if there's a crockpot bubbling away at a party, I'm there with bells on.


              1. re: cayjohan

                I'm going back to DC next week. I'll try that - but my requirement for eating stuff like that is that it has to be cheap (as indicated by this thread)! I like good and healthy at any price - OR - now and then decadent and dirt cheap! Chef Boy -R - Dee ravioli for $0.69 a can! If Hormel and Velveeta actually cost as much as making chili and topping with some SafeWay cheddar or roasting a chicken I'll just do it myself.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  If you're gonna do it, you've gotta go all the way. Pick up a block of cream cheese (the lower fat Neufchatel is fine). Spread on bottom of glass baking dish. Cover cream cheese with Hormel. Top with shredded cheddar and bake. Eat with tortilla chips--we like Tostitos.

                  Edit: I got too excited reading about eating junque and didn't read your $ part--the "recipe" I just quoted you above HAS to be less $ than making your own chili...however, when you're home, there is nothing like making that same dip from scratch with your own meat and taco seasonings. But I eat both (the cheap and the haute!)!

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    I'm going to do it. But I'll shop: the recipe has to cost way less than scratch. Thank you and Whooppie!

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Sam, chili dip (and its close cousin, taco dip) are so worth it! Hormel shouldn't be more than $2, but you're probably going to want to pick up some Sriracha or chilies to give it some life, which might put you just over the edge budgetwise.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        Couldn't Sam bring his own ground chilis to save from having to buy Sriracha here? Some ground chipotle would amp up the Hormel nicely. Don't you wish Sriracha came in little convenience packs as ketchup does? There is an idea!!!

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          Good luck getting liquid fire past security!

                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            Yes, I always travel with chile flakes.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              Yes, eccentric botanists tend to travel together, to ensure that nobody loses the room key, etc. But do you also bring the ground capsicum?

              2. re: kattyeyes

                I ask you--is this not the most beautiful BLT you've ever seen?

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Da faincy people blended up da 'maters in what they call that ay-oh-lee stuff. Dang, it was good, whutever it wuz.

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      And it doesn't look like they scrimped on the bacon either...looks right nice!

            2. I don't think I have one example where I prefer simple/cheap over haute. For me, it's based on what I feel like having that particular day.

              1. Sauerkraut & weiners, tacos, corn dogs (gas station), tuna fish sandwich, ...

                15 Replies
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  totally agree on the tuna fish sandwich. canned tuna with lots of mayo, that's the way to go.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

           trying to imagine haute retooling of the corndog...

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      it's a new trend in NYC right now.

                      1. re: demigodh

                        Where can I find these haute corndogs?

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          PDT and Shake Shack (UWS location) come to mind at first. I think there's a new place in Park Slope as well that serves fancy corn dogs/hot dogs.

                          1. re: demigodh

                            The Crif Dog/PDT corn dog isn't particularly haute or retooled and I'd be surprised if SS would change the classic either but maybe I'll go check it out.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              I could be wrong. Not basing it off of personal experience. I did read an article on some food blog recently about how corn dogs are the new craze (replacing burgers).

                          2. re: KTinNYC

                            Elettaria makes a corn dog out of their housemade sausage, though the batter is lighter, more like tempura.

                        2. re: cayjohan

                          Tiffany Faison in Top Chef did it where instead of a hot dog, she used chorizo duck sausage. And instead of mustard was a camembert cream sauce.

                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            Huh...I must be living under a rock! Survey sez: go with the downscale version on this too. I'd hate to imagine the NYC price tag on a duck chorizo corndog!


                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Don't forget the "monk-y (monkey?) dogs" one of the teams made for the monkfish challenge!

                            2. re: cayjohan

                              My husband had a foie gras corndog in Seattle last weekend. He really liked it.

                              1. re: cayjohan

                                it may not be "haute", but Alton Brown's version looks delicious - with jalapeno!


                                1. re: cayjohan


                                  had corn dog shrimp once...pepper jelly dip, fried dill pickles on the side...superb

                                  1. re: chef4hire

                                    Okay, I have to roll over on this one. That sounds perfectly, piggishly wonderful!

                              2. I would say - that any good old fashioned simple sandwich is a million times better than the stuff that the NYC delis are all offering these days - trying to pass them off as "haute".

                                They try to add a million ingredients into them that do nothing but drown each other out.

                                "Cajun chicken, salsa,watercress, avocado, chipolte dressing on country grain bread"
                                Give me a chicken salad on white!

                                "roast beef, cheddar cheese, sauteed mixed peppers, sharp watercress, and sharp dijon dip on a fresh onion hero"
                                I'll have a roast beef with mayo on Italian bread

                                Stick to the simple when it comes to sandwiches!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: NellyNel

                                  For the examples you give, I'm going to have to be contrarian and say "I like it haute". Chicken salad on white is what you have when you vacuum all the flavor out of a tuna salad sandwich. And that second sandwich you describe has me preheating my oven and heading for the butcher.

                                  1. re: cali2ia

                                    Well there must be a market for all the fussy sandwiches! I, myself will stick to the simple!!
                                    (Although i will say I bet if the haute sandwich was made at home with good quality ingredients - it just might be yummy - However these deli sandwiches are sitting around all day and cold and with much too much condiment applied -
                                    Yhey are TRYING to be haute, but they actually aren't!

                                2. I have said this before, but I really do prefer my pizza to be what I consider 'regular'- dough stretched thin, baked up light and crisp, topped with pepperoni, a good mozzarella and just enough sauce.
                                  I will eat and don't hate a busy pizza, with unusual crusts and toppings (all fancied up)- I had a goat cheese and mushroom pie on a cruise ship once that was AMAZING... but when I crave pizza its just a regular pizza pie I want.