Friday, March 24, 2017

Make Classic Meals Into Gourmet Sandwiches

Courtesy of Alli Neal
Culture CheatSheet

Hi Friends,

Sometimes, you’re out of clean forks. Sometimes, you just need a sandwich. Branch out from the cold cuts and sliced cheese, though. Whether you’re looking for a new way to eat a favorite meal or a way to love your leftovers, making your meal into a sandwich can be just the way to update a recipe. These recipes don’t just take a scoop of last night’s dinner and plop it between two slices of bread, though — they’re classic meals reimagined as sandwiches.

The featured Lasagna Grilled Cheese is toasted with cheese and tomatoes. No, this isn’t a slice of lasagna between two slices of bread. Instead, Joy the Baker takes the two most iconic flavors of lasagna, tomato and ricotta, and transforms them into a lasagna-esque sandwich. It’s then griddled to a golden crisp. Beware: Hot ricotta may get everywhere on your first delicious bite.

  • 4 slices of a good, sturdy bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter with a dash of olive oil
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14-ounce) can cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Extra salt and pepper for seasoning

Lay out bread slices.

In a medium skillet or nonstick pan, melt butter over medium-low heat.

In a small bowl, stir together ricotta, basil, salt, and pepper.

Top each slice of bread with a bit of mozzarella cheese. Top two of the bread slices with a few smashed cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. On the remaining two slices of bread, dollop and spread the ricotta cheese.

Combine the sandwich halves and place in the warmed skillet. Grill on each side until golden. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for 3 minutes before slicing in half and serving.

2. Chicken Pot Pie Salad Sandwiches

A mashup of chicken salad and chicken pot pie, these sandwiches don’t have to be served as “sliders” on biscuits, but why wouldn’t you? For a super easy meal, The Cooking Channel uses rotisserie chicken and store-bought biscuits. You are, as always, invited to make your own!

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small red onion, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup half-and-half
  • ½ rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat shredded
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into ?-inch pieces
  • 2 ounces sugar snap peas, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 6 store-bought biscuits, split

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, thyme, a large pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to cook until the onions are softened and browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high, bring the wine to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, 2 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the half-and-half, and mix in the chicken. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.

Discard the thyme. Stir in the mayonnaise, parsley, celery, and snap peas, and season with salt and pepper. Divide the chicken mixture among the biscuits and serve immediately.

3. Shakshuka Open-Faced Sandwich

Shakshuka is a classic Middle Eastern dish of eggs cooked in a spiced tomato sauce, often accompanied by red peppers. Here, Stephanie Smith from 300 Sandwiches turns it into an open-faced sandwich in a new way to make an egg-and-cheese sandwich.

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 English muffins or Portuguese sandwich muffins
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 small red onion, cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

In a large skillet with a lid, warm olive oil, then add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Then add green and red peppers and onions, and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add marinara sauce and stir. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

With the back of a spoon, create 4 wells in the sauce for the eggs. Crack one egg into each well, cover the skillet with the lid, and cook about 6 minutes. When the eggs are nearly done, sprinkle the cheese on top and then layer on basil leaves. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, toast muffins. On a plate, lay out a split muffin and spoon one egg with peppers and sauce on top. Repeat with other 3 and serve.

4. Bacon Mac-and-Cheese Sandwich

You can either use leftover baked mac and cheese to make this sandwich from The Food Network or you can use the recipe provided for easy mac and cheese. If you’re a Velveeta user, use Velveeta here. If Velveeta isn’t your thing (we seriously understand), use cream cheese instead. Make sure you use a really sharp cheddar.

Mac and cheese
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounce processed cheese, such as Velveeta
  • 1½ cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar
  • Splash hot sauce, or pinch of cayenne
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 cups mac and cheese
  • 8 slices country white bread, buttered
  • 4 slices cheese
  • 8 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, cooked
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch slices, optional
  • Hot sauce, optional

To cook the mac and cheese, boil the pasta according to package specifications to al dente. Drain.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and stir for a couple of minutes, making sure it’s free of lumps and the flour taste is cooked out. Stir in the milk, bring to a simmer, and cook over medium-low until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the processed cheese and cheddar until melted, add the hot sauce, and fold in the macaroni. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Evenly spread the mac and cheese in an 8-inch square baking dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Cut the mac and cheese into 4 equal-size squares.

Preheat a griddle over medium-low heat. Place each mac and cheese square on a slice of bread, then top with 1 slice cheese and 2 slices bacon. Top with a second piece of bread and griddle the sandwich until golden and warm, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve.

5. French Onion Soup Sandwiches

Joy the Baker really likes making things that are decidedly not sandwiches into sandwiches, and she’s at it again with these soup sandwiches. If you’re really into caramelized onions, make this sandwich. If you have leftover French onion soup, put it back on the stove and cook it all the way down.

  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut in half, and sliced into ¼-inch thick semi-circles
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the bread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 scant teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
  • Pinch of granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons beef broth, beer, or white wine to deglaze the pan
  • ½ cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese; use more cheese to your own taste
  • 4 slices bread

Place a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil, and stir until butter is melted. Add the sliced onions all at once. Stir to coat the onions in the fat. Allow onions to cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes. Add salt, thyme, and pepper and stir. Place lid on the pan and allow to onions to cook for about 4 minutes at a time. Lower the heat if the onions are browning too quickly. Remove the lid to stir the onions occasionally. The onions will begin to brown, break down, and resemble an onion jam.

When onions are entirely browned and completely soft, add your chosen liquid to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any burned bits off the bottom of the pan as the liquid evaporates. This takes about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and allow to rest while you assemble the sandwiches.

Butter one side of each slice of bread. On the unbuttered side, add a good sprinkling of Gruyere, top with warm onion mixture, top with more cheese, and add the final piece of sandwich bread. Repeat process in assembling the other sandwich.

Cook sandwiches over medium heat in a medium sauté pan. Flip and cook until golden on the outside and melty on the inside. Serve immediately.

6. Pot Roast Sandwiches

A little reminiscent of a French dip sandwich, these pot roast sandwiches are — you guessed it — a great way to use up leftover pot roast. They’re also a wonderful way to get through a pot roast craving without sitting down to a big Sunday dinner. These sandwiches from Oh Sweet Basil don’t have carrots and potatoes, so maybe you should make some fries on the side!

  • 1½ pound tri-tip
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup beef drippings
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, sliced
Sandwich assembly
  • Hoagie rolls or baguette
  • Butter for toasting

Place beef in a slow cooker with seasonings and butter. Cook on low for 8 hours, flipping halfway through.

Twenty minutes before the beef is done, add the tablespoon of butter to a skillet and heat over medium until melted. Add the onions and toss to coat. Reduce heat to low and let cook for 20 minutes.

When the beef is done, remove from slow cooker and transfer the drippings to a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Create a slurry with the cornstarch and cold water, whisking thoroughly, and add to the drippings. Bring back to a boil, then immediately turn down to a simmer and cook until thick, about 10 minutes.

Butter and toast the bread face-down on a skillet or in the oven. Shred the beef — really, picking it up should do this for you — and place on the bread. Top with onion and gravy. Serve.

7. Loaded Turkey Panini

This one is almost like cheating, because these days, everyone has had a Thanksgiving sandwich/gobbler/whatever you call it. This version from Pinch of Yum has more than your normal version, though, with pear slices, bacon, crisped sage, Muenster cheese, and goat cheese. This particular sandwich doesn’t have stuffing because Lindsay had already eaten all the stuffing, but yours could (and should) have stuffing.

  • 2 slices of thick, sturdy white or wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • A few slices of turkey
  • A few sage leaves
  • A few spoonfuls of cranberry sauce
  • 1 ounce goat cheese
  • 2 slices cooked bacon
  • 1 slice Muenster cheese

Heat a skillet or panini press to medium-high heat. Place the bread on a plate. Layer the ingredients between the two pieces of bread: turkey, sage, cranberry sauce, goat cheese, bacon, and Muenster cheese. Spread each piece of bread with butter on the outside.

Transfer to the hot skillet or panini press and press down gently. When the outside is golden-brown and the inside is melted and warm, remove from heat, slice, and serve.

Gourmet sandwiches for you, your family and good friends with leftovers; our twist on recycling.

Bon Appétit...

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