Burgers, brats and hot dogs are fine tailgating fare. But sandwiches can score big points, too.
You can get them ready in advance or make them up on game day and they are easy to transport.
For Jim Mathes, 48, of Woodhaven, Mich., his University of Michigan tailgate fare can include breakfast sandwiches, appetizers, snacks and sandwich wraps, depending on game time.
But it’s Mathes’ specialty Hawaiian Chicken with Ham and Pineapple sandwich that he says is “always a crowd pleaser.”
The sandwich has a marinated and grilled chicken breast topped with a thick slice of grilled Black Forest ham basted with brown sugar and honey and grilled sliced pineapple. All the ingredients are nestled in an Asiago cheese roll.
Here are some sandwich tips from “The Best of Fine Cooking Tailgating 2010” (Fine Cooking magazine, $9.99) and the Free Press Test Kitchen:
Use sturdy bread with a hearty texture and thick crust that will stand up to spreads and fillings.
Add ingredients that tend to be wet, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, at the end or serve on the side because they will make the bread soggy.
Choose condiments that hold up well and won’t spoil in warm weather.
Use spreads that are thick enough to prevent soaking through the bread, but add flavor. Fine Cooking suggests chicken with mozzarella and pesto or roast beef with cheddar and horseradish.
Wrap sandwiches well — even consider double wrapping — to avoid ingredients and condiments or dressing from leaking out. Wrapping sandwiches tight also compresses all the ingredients and holds them in place.
VEGGIE SANDWICH WITH PESTO MAYO
Makes: 1 large sandwich
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
1 large (16 ounce) French baguette (or other favorite bread)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 eggplant, about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds
6 small (3 1/2 inches in diameter) portabella mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared pesto 6 roasted red pepper pieces
1 small red onion, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup marinated artichokes, drained, coarsely chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, or cheese of choice
2 cups baby spinach or field greens
Preheat the grill. Cut the baguette in half lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through. Brush the inside with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush the eggplant slices and the mushrooms with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant and mushrooms until just tender. Place the bread on the grill, with the inside flat and lightly grill. Remove all from the grill.
To assemble the sandwich: Mix together the mayonnaise and pesto. Brush this mixture on both insides of the bread. Place a layer of grilled eggplant slices. Top with mushrooms, red pepper and red onion. Scatter the chopped artichokes over the red onion. Sprinkle the feta cheese on top (or lay slices of cheese on top) and top with spinach leaves. Close the sandwich, pressing it together. Cut the sandwich into 6 pieces and serve immediately. Or cut the sandwich in half. Wrap each half tight with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Adapted from chef Aaron Wynn, Whole Foods market Cranbrook, Ann Arbor.
FLAT IRON STEAK SANDWICH WITH CHIPOTLE MAYO
Preparation time: 10 minutes (plus marinating time)
Total time: 35 minutes
1 flat iron steak, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 cup fat-free Italian dressing
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 chipotle pepper (or more if you want it spicy) in adobo sauce (with a little of the sauce), chopped
16 ounces ciabatta bread loaf
Favorite mild sliced cheese, optional
1 small white or red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups coarsely shredded favorite lettuce
Place the flat iron steak in a plastic sealable bag. Pour the dressing and soy sauce over the steak.
Seal the bag and marinate at least 4 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook the steak, preheat the grill to medium-high or preheat the broiler. Remove the steak from the marinade and discard the marinade. Season the steak with salt, pepper and the chili powder. Grill the steak about 7-8 minutes on one side or until you get nice grill marks. Turn and continue grilling another 7-8 minutes, depending on the thickness, for medium-rare. Or cooked to desired doneness.
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and the chopped chipotle pepper, being sure to add a little of the adobo sauce. Cut the ciabatta loaf in half lengthwise. Spread the inside with the chipotle mayonnaise.
Place the entire cooked steak on the bottom of the loaf. Top with cheese slices, if using, onion, lettuce, and top of the bread.
Cut into individual sandwiches and serve.
HAWAIIAN CHICKEN WITH HAM AND PINEAPPLE
Preparation time: 15 minutes (plus marinating time)
Total time: 45 minutes
4 small (4 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves (or more if you like) fresh garlic, crushed
Seasoning salt mixed with sea salt to taste
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey or to taste
4 thick slices (about 1/4-inch) Black Forest ham
4 slices pineapple, about 1/4-inch thick
4 rolls of choice, such as Asiago cheese
Place the chicken in a plastic bag or a bowl. In a measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, seasoning salt and sea salt. Pour over the chicken and allow to marinate at least an hour and up to 4 hours.
Preheat the grill to medium and lightly oil the grates.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken on one side, about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness or until you get nice grill marks. Turn and continue grilling until the chicken is cooked through. While the chicken is grilling, melt the butter with the brown sugar and honey. Place the ham and pineapple slices on the grill. Brush the ham and pineapple slices with the butter mixture (you may not use it all). Grill until the pineapple is just tender.
Layer the grilled chicken, ham and pineapple slices on the rolls and serve.
From Jim Mathes, Woodhaven, Mich.