September 25, 2010

Beating the heat with Subway's Turkey Jalapeño Fiery Footlong

I don't know what the weather was like where you live yesterday, but I can tell you it was unseasonably warm here in Syracuse. On just the third day of fall, the temperature reached a new record of 90 degrees.

That's not appropriate for the start of a weekend in which the area hosts its Oktoberfest. I didn't go to the big festival last night, but it must have been sweltering in the biergarten.

The temperatures were much more fitting, however, for my own culinary exploits yesterday. I sampled Subway's Turkey Jalapeño Melt.

The melt is one of two "Fiery Footlongs" Subway is pushing right now. The other is a Buffalo Chicken sub, which I haven't chanced to try yet. The Turkey Jalapeño Melt has a simple blueprint: turkey, pickled jalapeños and cheese stuffed in the toaster oven. It's nothing you couldn't have ordered on your own in the past by picking and choosing a custom sub.

It is something you might not have thought to order, though. And while I can't say it has me burning my list of favorite foods, the melt is definitely worth a try.

The melt's calling card is the fact that the jalapeños are toasted along with the turkey and cheese -- Subways I've visited wait until post-toast to place vegetables on your sub. The result in this order of operations change is that much more flavor leaks from the pickled peppers. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of heat the sub delivered.

My Subway fallback meal is a Spicy Italian with jalapeños, and the heat doesn't approach the level delivered by the Turkey Jalapeno Melt. I chalk that up in large part to the fact that the melt's jalapeños were warm, which stirred up the flavors.

Those of you who are science-minded will want to note that the lower fat content of my turkey versus the Spicy Italian's Genoa salami and pepperoni probably played a part in the turkey melt's fierier nature. Capsaicin, the chemical that gives jalapeños their kick, is fat soluble. Therefore pairing the peppers with higher-fat foods like those in the Spicy Italian will wash away some of that delicious heat.

Unfortunately the Jalapeño Turkey Melt delivered no surprises other than the heightened jalapeño. A special spicy bread would have been nice, as would a unique hotter version of Subway's stalwart pepper jack cheese. Alas, t'was not to be. In the end I received a typical turkey sub that had been dressed up by a trip to the oven. You can put lipstick on a pig, and it's still a pig -- or you can put a heating element on turkey, and it's still turkey.

It's still pleasant turkey, that is. And it's a sub I award three sporks out of five. I won't hesitate to order it any time I want a spiced-up lunch for six bucks. It's just a little too pedestrian to receive any higher accolades.

The silver lining of the sub's plebeian nature is that you'll still be able to order it long after Subway's special-sub promotional machine has moved on to promote the next footlong. So when you find yourself strolling past a sub shop on some future 90-degree late-September day, you'll know what to order to match the unexpected heat.

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