Heroes of the day: putting together super sandwiches

Entertaining: Wondering what to put on a roll, or even what type of roll or bread to use? Here are some guidelines for a casual party.

August 11, 1999|By Elinor Klivans | Elinor Klivans,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

I've never made any of these sandwiches.

But my husband, Jeff, is a great sandwich maker and I know when I have a good thing going. When we have a party, we buy all the fixings, then Jeff takes over. Some of his specialties are of the submarine or hero type of sandwich, while others are dripping with melted cheese and hot corned beef, but all of them are perfectly suited to a casual party.

Any sandwich recipe is only a guideline for constructing your own variation, so feel free to add your personal touch to any of these recipes. However, my husband has some useful ideas for putting together a great sandwich.

The bread is important. Submarine-type sandwiches are best made with a long roll that has a medium to soft crust. There should be a slight crunch as you bite into a well-filled sandwich. Very soft rolls tend to fall apart while hard-crusted ones are difficult to tackle.

Pressed sandwiches are an exception. Because the roll for a pressed and grilled sandwich is weighted to compress it, soft rolls will produce thin, crisp sandwiches. You can find both types of rolls in the baking section of most supermarkets.

Meats, cheeses and vegetables for sandwich fillings should be thinly sliced, while chopped ingredients should be cut to the same size. Thin slices piled high make appealing, thick sandwiches with fillings that won't scoot out from between the bread as you take a bite.

Lettuce should have a crisp texture, so iceberg lettuce makes a good choice. It will remain crisp even after dressings are added or when baked for a few minutes under some cheese.

Neatness counts. Layer everything carefully, and spread sauces and condiments evenly over the bread.

But, be flexible; these are no-fail preparations. If your market sells small rolls or long loaves, use the measurements given as a guide. You can go heavy on the meat, cheese or any ingredients that you prefer and leave out any that don't appeal to you. And, if you are a mayonnaise lover, spread it on.

Open-Face Corned Beef and Cheddar

Makes 4 sandwiches (see note)

4 slices seeded rye bread, onion rye preferred

1/4 cup mayonnaise

10 ounces thinly sliced (about 12 slices) lean corned beef

8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, sliced

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

Place oven rack about 6 inches below broiling element and preheat oven for broiling.

Place bread slices on baking sheet. Using 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, spread mayonnaise over each slice. Cover each slice with corned beef. Top with cheese.

Mix pickle relish with remaining 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and spread mixture over cheese. Broil about 3 minutes just until cheese melts and sauce begins to bubble. Serve hot.

Note: Try these sandwiches when you need a large quantity for a crowd. They are simple to assemble and can be lined up on baking sheets ready for their broiled finish. For hearty appetizer servings, cut each sandwich into quarters.

Spicy Hot and Cold Vegetarian Grinders

Makes 4 sandwiches

4 fresh soft baguettes, 10 to 12 inches long

4 teaspoons prepared mustard

4 teaspoons mayonnaise

4 teaspoons diced hot cherry peppers (see note)

8 slices (about 6 ounces) provolone cheese

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup grated carrot

24 dill-pickle slices

1 sweet red or yellow pepper, cut into thin strips

2 tablespoons sliced and pitted black olives, optional

freshly ground black pepper

8 large crisp lettuce leaves

Cut each baguette in half horizontally, leaving bottom edge attached. Spread rolls open. Spread 1 side of each roll evenly with mustard, mayonnaise and cherry peppers. Place 1 layer of cheese along length of each roll, folding cheese in half to fit into roll. Add 1 layer of tomato slices, pressing them to fit roll. Add 1 layer of onions, carrot, pickle slices and sweet pepper strips. Sprinkle with black olive slices, if using.

Press filling gently into roll. Grind black pepper over filling. Place lettuce leaves over top of each filled sandwich and press rolls closed. Use large knife and sawing motion to cut sandwiches in half. Serve cold.

Note: Jars of diced red and green cherry peppers are usually found in the pickle section of supermarkets, but any hot pepper relish works fine.

PLT Hoagies With Cheese Makes 4 sandwiches

4 long soft rolls, about 8 inches long (see note)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

12 slices provolone cheese, about 8 ounces

4 ounces sliced pepperoni

1 1/2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

1 large tomato, chopped

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

Place oven rack about 6 inches below broiling element and preheat oven for broiling. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cut each roll in half horizontally, leaving bottom edge attached. Spread rolls open, and evenly spread 1 side of each roll with mayonnaise. Place 3 slices cheese, overlapping them, along length of each roll.

Cook pepperoni slices in nonstick skillet over medium heat until edges are crisp, about 4 minutes. Turn slices once during cooking.

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