This is the one sports event of the year you really want to nail, at least from a culinary point of view. If you are having friends over for the Super Bowl, you don't want to underwhelm them with chips and canned dips. It isn't necessary to break the piggy bank and go broke to feed your sport enthusiast friends, either, so it's best to find some middle ground.
This is certainly not a time for a sit-down dinner, nor do you want something so sloppy you'll miss the big play looking for another roll of paper towels. But you do want some comfort in the food, and that means cheese, mayonnaise and something warm and gooey, and nothing answers that call like the all-American sandwich.
You will find a good ham and cheese sandwich in Switzerland, and nobody does a sausage with a chewy brotchen and mustard like the Germans, but there is no place in the world that makes the variety and combinations of sandwiches like the Americans do. Think of the innovative hamburger recipes you've seen on the Food Network, the New Orleans muffaletta, our famous po-boys or even our down-to-earth grilled cheese sandwich. It is another endless list.
Most grocery stores have pretty good delis with delicious selections of charcuterie and cheese, but remember all are not created equally. If you want to buy Parmigiano-Reggiano, make sure it is Italian made, the best Gruyeres (the best melting cheese in the world) are made in France or Switzerland, Manchego comes from Spain; do you see where we are going here? Certainly there are great cheeses made in the United States, but they are artisanal. Yes, you may have to go to a specialty shop, but the difference between the best quality cheeses and meats and massed produced is vast.
You may prefer to use traditional pimentos for this recipe, but roasting a red bell pepper will add a smoky element to your sandwich that is delicious.
CLASSIC PIMENTO AND CHEESE SANDWICH
1 loaf fresh-baked wheat or multi-grain bread
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
1 cup grated Gruyere
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup garlicky homemade mayonnaise
1-2 teaspoons chopped red onion
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
Roast the bell pepper over an open flame until it is charred, allow to cool, then remove the blacked skin under a running faucet. Chop the pepper and combine the cheese, mayonnaise and onion. Taste and season as necessary. Make the sandwiches, butter the bread on both sides and sauté until the cheese is melted and the bread toasted. Cut the sandwiches into quarters and serve hot.
Olive salad made its name when the muffaletta was invented, but it is equally good on a variety of sandwiches.
OlIVE SALAD CLUB SANDWICH
4 Kaiser rolls
24 thin slices salami
8 medium thick slices ham
Italian olive salad
8 medium thick slices provolone
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes (optional)
Slice the rolls almost in half, place 6 slices of salami on each, 2 slices of ham, then heap on the olive salad. Top with 2 slices of cheese and then run under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted. If you want to take that extra step to make this sandwich even better, sauté the ham in a little olive oil first, just until it starts to take on a little color. Cut into bite-size servings and serve on a platter. This is also good with mortadella.
Make this about half the size of a regular burger, only about three inches across; that qualifies it as a slider. In my opinion, the best burger is made over an open wood fire.
Crusty rolls or buns
1/2 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground sirloin
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3-4 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Dale's Seasoning (if you don't use Dale's, add a pinch or two of salt)
Sharp American cheese
Slice the buns, then combine the rest of the ingredients into 3-inch patties. Grill for 3 minutes, flip, add the cheese and grill until medium rare. Place a slider on each bun, garnish with your favorite toppings and serve at once.
This almost qualifies as a sandwich, but not quite. The novelty of it is, the bread that the cheese mixture is baked in becomes the device by which you eat it. Break off a piece of the lid to start with, dip it and enjoy.
1 large round loaf of bread
1 chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
6 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
2-3 tablespoons hot sauce
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-2 pinches black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice off the top of the bread, then remove the soft white bread inside. Combine all of the other ingredients and stuff the bread completely full with the mixture. Place on an oven proof pan and bake for about 20 or 25 minutes. Make sure to serve hot so that the cheese is melted and the bread well toasted.
A shortcut mayo
Mayonnaise has been with us for a long time and has its origins in France or Spain. It is an emulsion sauce, although we have demonized it into a lowly condiment. Making your own is the best choice, and it isn't difficult to master. You can create a very good mayo by combining a cup of best quality mayo, the flesh of an avocado, the juice of a lemon, a little minced garlic if you like and a pinch of white ground pepper. It's great on a sandwich or as a dip for your sweet potato fries.