And now, for another of our fast food family favorites (yay alliteration!): my attempt to replicate the deliciousness of Panera bread. The Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich, in particular, has always held a special place in my heart. Not only is it beyond yummy and adored by my sister and cousin, but my husband and I both ordered it on our second date--one of the first signs that we were meant to be!
For the record, the internet is an amazing resource when it comes to locating anything that has ever been made at any time any where, so if you have a favorite restaurant food you'd like to attempt, google it to find a copycat recipe. It'll be extremely close to the original, make more food, and be cheaper overall for the amount of food it produces. First, I found copycats for the sandwich and the broccoli soup. However, the sandwich recipe did not include Panera's tomato basil bread, so I found a different recipe for the bread itself here. Allow me to briefly tempt you with the final result:
And since now you are hungry and want homemade Panera, let's start with the bread. You will need:
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced (I substituted 2 tablespoons dried)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 1/2-2 3/4 cups bread flour
This came out with a very strong tomato/basil flavor (I know, that seems to be a "duh" statement, given what it is, but it was a bit strong compared with the Panera version). If I were to do this recipe over again, I would omit 1-2 tablespoons of the tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of dried basil. I would also add an extra tablespoon or two of sugar to sweeten it a bit. This version, however, would taste AMAZING as part of a grilled cheese.
To make, first pour the yeast packet into a large mixing bowl. Add water and dissolve the yeast. Next, add the basil, tomato paste, parmesan cheese, sugar, oil, salt, pepper flakes and mix. After, add flour a little at a time, using a kitchen spatula to incorporate the flour into the wet ingredients. I didn't need more than 2.5 cups.
Flour a non-porous surface and place the dough mixture on top. Don't be worried if the dough looks somewhat dry at first--kneading will take care of it! Simply knead the dough for 3-5 minutes, then place in a greased bowl (turn once to coat the top of the dough to prevent sticking upon removal). Cover and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, about an hour.
When the dough has doubled, remove from the bowl and knead again for another minute. Shape into a round loaf and place on a greased baking sheet. (Note: I may try to make my bread into a rectangular loaf shape in the future for a more uniform shape). Allow dough to double again (another hour or so).
Finally, cut a cross shape into the top of the bread loaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Bread will be golden and crusty on the outside, but soft and yummy on the inside!
And a close-up to give you an idea of the color of this bread. I love how you can see the little specks of basil:
Set the bread aside and move on to your soup. You will need:
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
Saute onion in the butter until translucent. Add flour and whisk together for 3-5 minutes, until thick and non-lumpy (it is ok to leave the onions in the pan while you do this). Slowly add in the half and half until well-mixed and no lumps appear, then bring to a boil to thicken. Finally, add the chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the veggies (broccoli and carrots) and cook until tender (another 15-20 minutes). If you want an even thicker soup, you can puree the soup in batches in a blender. I thought the soup was already fairly thick, and I enjoy having the full pieces of broccoli in my soup, so I did not blend mine. Instead, I added the cheese, mixed until it was melted, and served the warm, cheesy soup!
Mmmm....look at that broccoli--my favorite vegetable!
And finally, put it all together! Cook up some slices of bacon, slice some fresh Gouda cheese, and wash some leaves of lettuce. Pile high with some thick-cut turkey on slices of your freshly-baked bread. Top it all off with the special Bacon Turkey Bravo sauce, a mix of:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 dash of tabasco or other hot sauce
And voila! A homemade Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich to accompany your homemade Panera Broccoli Cheddar soup. Enjoy!