Cured meats are available in thousands of variations, from heartbreakingly exquisite dried hams at the upper end of the scale to mass-produced luncheon meats at the low end. Plain, ordinary bologna falls solidly at the low end of the scale, unpretentious blue-collar fare that shares peanut butter's dubious glory as the default sandwich of childhood. Yet, whatever it lacks in culinary distinction, a simple bologna sandwich -- especially when the bologna is fried -- can be surprisingly tasty.
When bologna is fried crisply in a hot skillet, its character changes dramatically. The crisped edges share something of bacon's sweet and salty allure, while the interior of a thick slice softens and becomes aromatic. Slices of 1/4 inch or thicker offer that contrast between a crisp exterior and soft interior; while thinner slices tilt the scale toward crisp edges and a more bacon-like end result. There is no right or wrong, and each has its own merits. A classic fried-bologna sandwich is usually served on plain white bread or a soft roll, with yellow mustard and often a slice of processed cheese, but there are many possible variations.
Toasting your bread before assembling the sandwich provides a pleasant textural contrast, or you can butter the bread and grill it as if it were a grilled cheese sandwich. To make the finished sandwich more adult-friendly, swap out the white bread for your favorite artisanal wheat or multi-grain loaf and replace the yellow mustard with a good Dijon or grainy deli-style mustard. A fried bologna sandwich piled high with lettuce and tomato makes a perfectly serviceable BLT, while a mound of thin-sliced bologna on a bun with pickles or slaw is perfect summertime backyard food.