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Mini sandwiches will score big with Super Bowl party guests

Yes, it's a game about big men. This year, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, to be specific.

But that doesn't mean the guests at your Super Bowl party need to eat like offensive linemen because, well, they aren't. Footlong subs are tempting, but often end up being too much on a table of nachos, gooey dips and chips, chili, wings, pizza and other typical football party food. Instead, consider sandwiches on small buns. You can prepare a variety, and the big eaters can have seconds. Or thirds. No one goes home hungry.

I am not talking tea sandwiches. You know, those crustless watercress or cucumber numbers that go so swimmingly with afternoon tea. I am thinking of brawn in small packages, sort of like Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, who at 5 feet 9 is one of the NFL's most wee players.

A three-bite meatball sub is plenty hefty for the big game, as are mini sausage and pepper rolls, grilled flank steak and sauteed onion bites and pint-sized Cubans. For the vegetarians, smoked baby portobello sliders are meaty alternatives. You might just find that tray empty first.

Besides the fillings, there is a wide variety of small rolls to consider, among them soft water rolls, hard Chicago rolls, sweet Hawaiian bread, ciabatta rolls, squares of focaccia, cocktail rye or pumpernickel, and mini bagels. Make sure the bread you select can handle the filling. For instance, a meatball sub needs a substantial roll to hold the weight of the meat and drippy sauce. A drier sandwich, like a Cuban, works well on a lighter roll.

Timing is also a consideration for a Super Bowl party, not just how long the food takes to prepare but when to set out the provisions. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. which means halftime won't come before 8 p.m. and after that some of your just-here-for-the-food guests might be heading home. Make sure there's food to eat by 7 p.m. and people can fit in their visits to the groaning table during commercials or during the game if they are part of the growing legion of people who prefer the much-hyped ads.

Here are 10 palm-sized sandwiches perfect for a Super Bowl party menu:

Sausage and Peppers Rolls

No self-respecting Giants fan would have a football party without the New Jersey State Sandwich. (The Giants play in New Jersey. Why? Fuhgettaboutit. Just eat.) Rather than load up a six-inch hoagie roll, use a small, hard Chicago roll. Cut fresh Italian sausage in 1-inch slices with sharp knife. Saute to cook through and set aside. Saute thinly sliced onions and green pepper in olive oil until very soft. Add some canned diced tomatoes and simmer to let liquid reduce. Add the sausage pieces to heat through. Pile on rolls and serve immediately.

Baked Cod Sandwiches

You can't get much more Boston — the Patriots' home stadium is about 20 miles away in Foxborough — than Parker House rolls, which got their start in Beantown. Split and toast lightly and serve with small pieces of cod that have been breaded and baked (or lightly fried if you'd like). A smear of tarter sauce completes the deal. The cold crunch of iceberg lettuce would be a nice foil if the sandwiches will be eaten quickly.


New Orleans Saints fans still sad that their team didn't make it to the big game can take solace with a muffuletta sandwich. Use a sturdy roll and fill it with layers of thinly sliced mozzarella, provolone, salami and ham then top with an olive salad mixture. Buy one or make a version with chopped olive-cured black olives, green olives and dried oregano and basil. Make it a bit spicy with red pepper flakes if you'd like. If the olive salad seems dry, drizzle with olive oil.

Crab Cake Sandwiches

Baltimore Ravens fans will also have to be consoled with something good to eat this year. Saute small crab cakes, either homemade or store-bought, and cradle between layers of soft rolls. Make a spicy spread by mixing mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and a few dashes of hot sauce.

Grilled Flank Steak on Ciabatta

Season and grill flank steak and slice thinly. Pile on ciabatta rolls spread with horseradish sauce and garnish with caramelized onions. Caramelizing the onions will take at least 30 minutes, maybe more, over low heat. Do this ahead and reheat. This is our nod to the San Francisco 49ers, who came so close.

Baked Ham and Cheese Party Sandwiches

This is an old Junior League favorite (see recipe) and can be made with sheets of Parker House Rolls or individual soft rolls. Either way, you bake these babies and then cut them apart to serve. Buttery and cheesy and gone. Sort of like the Green Bay Packers.

Barbecue Chicken and Slaw

There's not an occasion that the rotisserie chicken can't come to the rescue. To make pulled chicken, shred the meat, dark and light if you'd like, and heat with barbecue sauce of your choice. Spoon onto sturdy rolls and top with coleslaw. These need to be eaten soon after being made or the dressing from the coleslaw with compromise the bread. In other words, you'll have a mess on your hands . . . and your lap.

Smoked Baby Portobello Sliders

Meaty baby portobello mushrooms are dusted with barbecue rub spices (see recipe) before being grilled. The grilling works outside or on a stove grill pan. Top with herb-y sauteed onions and tangy Gouda cheese. All on a soft dinner roll.

Pint-Sized Cubans

Party-sized Cubans are traditionally made on Cuban bread and then cut into 2 inch slices. Those can sometimes be messy as the filling slips out. Make individual Cubans on water rolls. It's slices of roast pork, salami, ham and Swiss cheese with a schmear of mustard and a dill pickle slice. These will keep for quite a while on the buffet table.

Party-sized Meatball Sandwiches

A hard roll, a few heated frozen meatballs, a spoonful of red sauce and a slice of provolone cheese. Put them under the broiler to melt cheese, and bada-bing, you've got a party. Should be eaten soon after they come out of the oven.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8586.


The New England Patriots and the New York Giants face off in Super Bowl XLVI at 6:30 p.m. Sunday on NBC, WFLA-Ch. 8.


Baked Ham and Cheese

Party Sandwiches

3/4 cup melted butter

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 tablespoon dried minced onion

24 mini sandwich rolls, such as Parker House rolls

1 pound thinly sliced cooked deli ham

1 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

In a bowl, mix together butter, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, poppy seeds and dried onion. Separate the tops from bottoms of the rolls, and place the bottom pieces into the prepared baking dish. Layer about half the ham onto the rolls. Arrange the Swiss cheese over the ham, and top with remaining ham slices in a layer. Place the tops of the rolls onto the sandwiches. Pour the mustard mixture evenly over the rolls.

Bake in the preheated oven until the rolls are lightly browned and the cheese has melted, about 20 minutes. Slice into individual rolls through the ham and cheese layers to serve.

Makes 24 sandwiches.



Smoked Baby Portobello Sliders

8 baby portobello mushrooms (labeled criminis or baby bellas), stems removed

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons barbecue rub, such as McCormick's Grillmates or other brands

2 medium yellow or white onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoons herbes de Provence

1/2 cup prepared barbecue sauce

2 ounces shredded smoked Gouda (3/4 cup)

8 dinner rolls

Toss mushrooms in bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the barbecue rub. Set aside.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and herbes de Provence, and cook 30 minutes, or until golden, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Heat grill or stove-top grill pan over medium-high heat. Rub grate or grill pan with vegetable oil. Place mushrooms stem-side down on grill. Brush mushroom tops with barbecue sauce and grill 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft and charred around the edges. Flip, and grill 3 minutes more. Divide cheese among mushrooms, placing in center of each stem side. Grill 1 minute more, or until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, warm buns on grill. Spread barbecue sauce on bottom buns, then top each with 1 mushroom, sauteed onions, and top bun.

Serves 4.

Source: Vegetarian Times

Mini sandwiches will score big with Super Bowl party guests 01/31/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 3:30am]
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