Anthony Bourdain's 5-Ingredient Mortadella Sandwich Is Too Easy To Ignore

When you need a quick fix for lunch, maybe you're just thoughtlessly throwing together deli meats and cheeses with no regard for how the flavors come together. This doesn't have to be true. Among his many talents, the late chef Anthony Bourdain — being a native New Yorker — knew plenty about elevating a good deli sandwich. Bourdain loved pastrami sandwiches from New York City bodegas, but he also had his own easy mortadella sandwich recipe with only five ingredients.


In his 2016 book "Appetites: A Cookbook," Bourdain has an entire chapter on sandwiches that are easy for any aspiring chef (or anyone who's just hungry) to prepare at home. At the very end of that chapter is his mortadella and cheese sandwich, made with deli-sliced mortadella, provolone cheese, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, and a sourdough or Kaiser roll. These ingredients aren't especially difficult to find at a supermarket, even if you can't get fresh mortadella or cheese from the local deli. But the simplicity alone isn't what makes this recipe shine in the book of recipes from Bourdain. He's got a specific strategy for piecing together the cold cuts.

A quick mortadella and provolone mix

The preparation for Anthony Bourdain's mortadella sandwich is quick and easy. In "Appetites," Bourdain says to start by cooking a hearty amount of mortadella for just a minute until it's crispy, separating the slices into a few stacks on the skillet. Make sure to toast the bread beforehand to avoid a soggy sandwich. Then, toss some provolone slices onto each stack and assemble the stacks together on the toasted roll. One half of the roll should have Dijon mustard, and the other should be smeared with mayo. If you can't find a proper Kaiser roll, any pillowy, toasted roll will work fine. Bourdain recommends pairing this sandwich with a cold beer.


It's easy to dismiss mortadella as just "fancy bologna." While it is a cured pork that also comes from the city of Bologna, Italy, mortadella is spliced with small cubes of pork fat, and often black pepper or pistachios. The unique taste of mortadella is mild and slightly peppery, and its texture goes great with provolone (which can range from mild to sharp, depending on what kind you buy and your own preferences). The combination of Dijon mustard and smooth mayonnaise adds a creamy finishing touch with a tangy kick.

Bourdain's Brazil-inspired sandwich

It's worth noting that Anthony Bourdain's mortadella sandwich was based on a trip he made to São Paulo, Brazil during a 2012 episode of his show "The Layover." The show was all about what you can do (and what you can eat) during just a day or two in a specific city, and Bourdain quickly discovered that mortadella sandwiches are popular in Brazil. The most famous version comes from a São Paulo bar called Bar do Mané — located in the city's market known as Mercado Municipal — which includes a whopping 10 ounces of local mortadella in each roll.


By the time the sandwich made its way into Bourdain's "Appetites" cookbook (which he co-wrote with Laurie Woolever), it still packed a heavy amount of cold cuts to make for a very filling sandwich. The cookbook's sandwich section features lots of similarly heavy sandwiches from Bourdain's travels around the globe, including Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, Macau-style pork chop sandwiches, and classic New England lobster rolls. But his spin on the São Paulo mortadella roll is an especially quick and delicious lunch.