published Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Side Orders: 10 of 25 top chains in town

The Daily Meal, a website devoted to all things food and drink, recently came out with its list of the Top 25 chain sandwich shops. To assemble the rankings, Tim McGeever, Daily Meal spokesman, says more than 60 sandwich shops were presented to the more than 1,200 people around the country who took part in the survey.

"The results were nothing short of definitive," McGeever says.

And our area is fortunate to have 10 in the Top 25:

• No. 18: Charley's Grilled Subs (Hamilton Place);

• No. 16: Blimpies (numerous locations);

• No. 15: McAlister's Deli (541 Signal Mountain Road and 2288 Gunbarrel Road);

• No. 12: Jason's Deli (2115 Gunbarrel Road);

• No. 11: Firehouse Subs (3849 Dayton Blvd., 6025 East Brainerd Road and 1820 Gunbarrel Road);

• No. 5: Schlotzsky's, 1325 West Walnut Ave., Dalton. Ga.);

• No. 4: Quiznos Subs (8604 North Hickory Valley Road, 2020 Gunbarrel Road and 5030 Hunter Road, Ooltewah);

• No. 3: Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches (5111 Hixson Pike and 973 Market St.);

• No. 2: Subway (numerous locations);

• No. 1: Panera Bread (620 Northgate Mall, 417 Market St. and 1810 Gunbarrel Road).

Mike Lucas, director of operations for CSC Investments, owner of the Panera Bread stores in our area, says being voted as the top sandwich chain in the country brings a sense of pride and honor.

"But it all starts with the people," he adds. "The bakers who bake the fresh bread each night, and the associates who prepare each sandwich."

Lucas says the top-selling Panera sandwich is the Bacon Turkey Bravo, with smoked turkey, smoked gouda cheese and applewood-smoked bacon served on tomato-basil bread and topped with lettuce, more tomato and the restaurant's signature Bravo sauce. If the cold temps have you wanting to stay inside instead of venturing out to Panera, you can try recreating the sandwich at home using this recipe for tomato-basil bread found at thekeenancookbook.com. I was quite surprised at how easy it was to make. And it's quite delicious ... Good with butter for dinner.

Tomato-Basil Bread

1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast

3/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees )

1/4 cup fresh basil, minced (may be substituted with 2 tablespoons dried basil)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups bread flour

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in basil, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, sugar, oil, salt, pepper flakes and 2 cups flour. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a stiff dough.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; knead for 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet (or pizza stone). Cover and let rise again until doubled, about 1 hour.

With a sharp knife, cut a large "X" in the top of the loaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.

I also found find a recipe for Panera's Bravo sauce at copycatrecipes.com and made it, though I do think Panera's is a little better. This one isn't bad, though.

Bravo Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dried mustard

Dash of Worcestershire

Dash of hot sauce (pick your favorite)

Mix the ingredients together.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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