All right gang, are you ready for Super Bowl Sunday? Do you have your menu planned? Are you having friends over or are you going to a party somewhere else? In case you are still mulling over possibilities, here are some terrific sandwiches that would be perfect for a football party. The best part is they can all be made ahead so you don’t have to miss any of the fun commercials. Happy Festive Friday, weekend here we come!!
The Artist and I usually make a whole series of picnic foods and then park ourselves in front of the television and snack the day away. I look for things that can be served cold, at room temperature, or kept warm in a slow cooker or in a low oven. I want foods that don’t require any last minute preparation, items that are easy to eat without making too much of a mess, and good old-fashioned comfort foods.
Speaking of comfort foods, does it get any more comforting or old-fashioned than Sloppy Joes? The original Sloppy Joes were very basic and relatively plain. The “special” ingredient was Heinz Chili Sauce, still one of my favorite ingredients. When combined with ketchup and ground beef, this savory, slightly spicy concoction became a national standard. Today’s recipe started as my mother-in-law’s version, which I learned to make when I married The Artist. If you are getting married soon or are a newlywed, one sure way to endear yourself to your new in-laws is to ask them to teach you how to prepare their child’s favorite foods! And when he has had a rough day, nothing soothes The Artist more than his own comfort foods. When you need a little nostalgia, whip this up and eat the Sloppy Joes from your childhood, only better!
When I think of traditional football snacks, one leaps immediately to mind … chicken wings. One of my all time favorites, wonderfully messy and truly finger-licking good, they are also full of calories. Deep-fried and dredged in a buttery hot sauce, they can single-handedly destroy anyone’s diet. But that doesn’t have to be the case; these wraps have all the flavors of traditional Buffalo wings but without the hassle and excess fat. By using chicken tenders and baking instead of frying them, you greatly reduce the calories and wrapping them in lettuce or tortillas makes them very easy to serve and eat.
The concept of wraps is centuries old, but the current versions seem to have originated in my home state of California. When you live in an area where you spend the majority of the year outdoors, finding creative ways to easily transport foods is a fun pastime. In San Francisco in the early 1980’s, local bars and restaurants served what they called Aram sandwiches. These were flat bread or lahvash spread with cream cheese and layered with cured sandwich meats, cheese, and lettuce. This was then rolled up into a log and sliced into 1- to 2-inch-thick pieces. So easy to make for a crowd and always popular, these sandwiches were often on the menu at catered parties. I spent many years enjoying these at business luncheons – they made boring meetings much more fun.
The Buffalo chicken wraps can be completely made ahead and served at room temperature, or you can have all the fillings warm and let people make their own. I always have additional hot sauce on the side for those who want a Chernobyl heat level – they can add it to their hearts content. While Tabasco is the most common variety, there are hundreds of fun ones to try. Have you tasted the Chipotle Tabasco? I love the smoky flavor from the chipotle peppers. I also love Sriracha, an Asian version that adds a tremendous flavor. And one of our local fire departments, from Palo Alto, CA makes the most amazing pepper sauce. It has quickly become our family favorite. Look around at your farmer’s market and local shops to find homemade specialties made by local vendors. You never know when you might find something fun to send to your friends and family members for next year’s holiday gifts!!
Another of my favorites, and one that will fill your home with mouth-watering aromas, slow-roasted pork is one of the most delectable meats you can make. Cooking tough cuts in a low oven for a long time produces tender, succulent, moist meat that falls off the bone. A centuries-old favorite of the American South, it has gained popularity across the nation and can now be found on menus from New England to the Northwest. I have included two recipes that vary slightly in flavorings and technique. Either can be used in both of the pork sandwiches. If you don’t eat pork, you can also use these seasonings with a beef brisket or chuck roast. The cooking times will be similar. If you want to try these with chicken or turkey, roast to 160°F and remove from the oven. Tent with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before carving. Well worth the wait, this gives the juices a chance to be reabsorbed into the meat and makes your poultry a lot moister and more flavorful.
I always suggest you cook meats and poultry on the bone when possible. You gain a lot of moisture and flavor from the bones. When testing the temperature, make sure your thermometer is not touching any bones or sinew as this can throw off the reading. And if you pull it out too early, as I did a lot before I started using a thermometer, you can always finish those parts that need a little more cooking time in the microwave! Start with about 15 to 20 seconds and then cook in 10 second increments until you reach your desired doneness.
All of these recipes can be made at least a day in advance and actually benefit from the resting time. The flavors deepen and are distributed more thoroughly through the meat while they are in the refrigerator. I like to roast the meats a day ahead, and then store them in the cooking juices to keep them moist. On the day of your party, remove from the refrigerator and leave on the counter for about an hour to return to room temperature. You can then reheat them in the cooking juices and keep them warm in a low oven or in a slow cooker.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday! May your favorite team win … Go Broncos and Seahawks!! Have fun, stay safe and warm, and we’ll see next week for Chocolate Monday!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you are preparing to make food for a party, doing a lot of the prep work ahead saves you valuable time. I like to chop copious amounts of onions, celery, and carrots, the foundation vegetables for many dishes. It is as easy to chop 6 onions as it is to chop one, especially if you have a food processor. Chopped vegetables last up to several days in the refrigerator. Store them wrapped separately so you can control the percentages of each. I like to double-bag them in freezer-style zip top plastic bags with a dampened paper towel tucked inside to help keep them moist. They may brown slightly, but this won’t matter once they are cooked!
Schar’s makes wonderful ciabatta rolls that are perfect for the Sloppy Joes and Roasted Pork sandwiches. They also make baguettes that would work really well for the Cuban Sandwiches as well as gluten-free breadcrumbs you can use for the chicken wraps. You can also serve the Sloppy Joes, Buffalo chicken and roasted pork ingredients over cooked rice for a gluten-free alternative. And whenever you see a recipe for wraps, envision lettuce instead of the tortillas. They are healthier, naturally gluten-free, and add a really nice crunch!
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise, preferably Hellman’s or Best Foods
- 2 tbsp finely minced fresh basil
- 2 tbsp finely mince fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 shallot, very finely minced
- Large flour tortillas or Iceberg lettuce leaves to use as wraps
- Shredded lettuce (if not using lettuce leaves as wrap)
- 3 celery stalks, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- Fresh basil leaves, optional
- Crumbled bleu cheese, optional
- 1-1/2 lb chicken tenders
- 3 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco or Sriracha
- 1-1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or gluten-free breadcrumbs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare Dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour before using. May be made up to two days in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. For the easiest application, place in a squeeze bottle.
- Prepare Accompaniments: If using tortillas for the wrappers, soften in microwave for about 30 seconds and shred lettuce for filling. If using lettuce leaves for the wrapper, remove outer leaves from head of lettuce and discard. Separate remaining leaves from head and cut out hard stem area. Trim leaves into a rough circle with kitchen shears. Stack and set to the side. Shave celery and place in a small bowl.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Prepare Chicken: Cut chicken tenders lengthwise into 3 or 4 pieces. In a shallow bowl, combine the melted butter and honey with the hot sauce, whisking to blend. Place panko or breadcrumbs into another shallow dish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set bowls of hot sauce and panko next to each other beside the baking sheet.
- Dredge chicken pieces in the butter/hot sauce mixture and then press into the seasoned panko or gluten-free breadcrumbs. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown, turning with tong halfway through baking so both sides get browned and crispy.
- Assemble Wraps: Take one softened tortilla or prepared lettuce leaf, add some of the shaved celery, top with a few pieces of chicken and a couple of basil leaves. Add shredded lettuce if using tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese if desired. Drizzle with some of the dressing and roll up, burrito-style. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.
- When you are using lettuce leaves to wrap ingredients, the type of lettuce you use does make a difference. Look for round heads, like butter or iceberg lettuces. Cut out the hard part near the core and round off the corners.
- 2 tsp oil
- 1-1/2 lb lean ground beef (or 3/4 lb beef and 3/4 lb ground pork)
- 1 med onion, peeled and chopped finely
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced finely
- 1 oz minced mild green chiles
- 1 pkg taco seasoning mix (gluten-free if needed)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 3/4 cup chili sauce (Heinz is a common brand and is gluten-free)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins brand is gluten-free)
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder, or more to taste
- 4 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup frozen corn (no need to thaw first), optional
- 4 hamburger buns or hoagie rolls, split open (use gluten-free bread or rolls if needed)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, optional
- Minced green onions, for garnish
- Add oil to a large skillet and place over medium heat. Heat oil and then add beef, onions, bell peppers and green chiles. Sauté stirring frequently, until meat is browned, about 8 to 10 minutes, breaking up clumps. Drain off excess oil.
- Preheat broiler.
- Add taco seasoning mix, water, white wine, ketchup, and chili sauce, stirring to combine. Blend in Worcestershire, chipotle powder, cilantro, salt and pepper, and corn, and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Add water to thin sauce if needed. Simmer another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Place hamburger buns or gluten-free bread or rolls, cut sides up on a baking sheet and broil to lightly toast. Transfer tops to serving plates. Spoon beef mixture over bottom halves and sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over each sandwich (if using). Place under the broiler quickly to melt cheese. Remove from the oven and sprinkle green onions over the cheese. Set the top of hamburger bun at an angle on the sloppy joes.
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 1-1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried rubbed sage
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, ground in mortar with pestle or spice grinder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 (9-lb) whole bone-in pork shoulder (boneless is OK, but bone-in has better flavor)
- Kosher or sea salt, and additional freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb onions, halved, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 lb red bell peppers, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
- 1/2 lb green bell peppers, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
- 10 crusty rolls (split), gluten-free rolls (split) or bread, toasted
- 1-1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- For Pork: Chop garlic on work surface. Sprinkle with 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt and mince until paste forms. Transfer paste to small bowl; mix in parsley, olive oil, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, fennel, and pepper, mixing to create a web rub. Using a small sharp knife, make 20 evenly spaced 1-inch-long, 2-inch-deep slits in the pork roast. Stuff the wet rub mix into the slits. Sprinkle outside of pork with salt and and additional pepper. Let stand 1 hour for seasonings to permeate the meat.
- Position an oven rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. * Place a rack in large roasting pan and place the pork on rack. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 170°F, about 4-1/2 hours. Let pork rest 30 minutes. Transfer to work surface. keep the oven on and at the same temperature; do not clean the roasting pan.
- Thickly slice pork off bone. Coarsely chop or tear slices and place in another large baking dish; cover with foil. Pour the juices from roasting pan into a 4-cup measuring cup. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then spoon off fat. If necessary, add enough water or chicken stock to the remaining juices to measure 2 cups.
- In a small saucepan, stir together 2 tbsp of the juices and the cornstarch until the cornstarch dissolves; whisk in remaining pan juices and vinegar. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until sauce boils and thickens, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm over very low heat, stirring occasionally to keep a skin from forming on the top.
- For Vegetables: Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and all peppers; sauté until vegetables are softened and brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. This is caramelizing the natural sugars in the vegetables, turning them sweet and tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Assembly: Arrange sandwich roll bottoms on a clean work surface; mound with warm pork and drizzle with sauce. Cover with cheese, vegetables, and roll tops. Serve warm.
- Do-ahead tip: The pork, sauce, and vegetables can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate everything separately. Before serving, reheat pork, covered, in 350°F oven about 40 minutes; re-warm sauce and vegetables over medium heat.
- * Cooking in a Slow Cooker: Season as directed above, and cook in a slow cooker about 7 hours on HIGH.
- "Dijonaise" Dressing
- 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 tsp honey
- 1 loaf Cuban bread, 36-inch long loaf, soft French baguette, individual rolls, or gluten-free bread*
- 1 lb roast pork loin, thinly sliced (you can use the pork from the above recipe)
- 1 lb black forest ham, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lb salami, thinly sliced
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
- 8 slices fresh tomato
- 8 slices sour or dill pickle, sliced lengthwise
- For "Dijonaise" Dressing: In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the mustard, mayonnaise and honey and mix well. Cover the bowl and store in the refrigerator.
- For Sandwiches: Slice bread in half lengthwise and spread Dijonaise Dressing on both sides of the bread. * For best results with gluten-free bread, lightly toast the bread before assembling the sandwiches. Place the roast pork, ham and salami on one side of the bread. Top with the Swiss cheese, tomatoes, and pickles.
- Place the other half of the bread on top. Insert a bamboo skewer into the sandwich about every 2 inches down the length of the sandwich. Slice the sandwich between the skewers and place on serving platter. Enjoy!
- Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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