Feb 4, 2011

Super Open-Faced Sandwiches

Whether you are having a huge crowd over for a party or just trying to figure out what to make for dinner, open-faced sandwiches are full of wonderful possibilites. With the Super Bowl coming up, this is a great option for your entertaining needs. Caitlin decided to make different versions of an Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwich. Monica made Meatball Sandwiches and Open-Faced Portobello Sandwiches. The sandwiches were not only delicious, but they were also versatile and can be altered to your liking. Another great thing about these sandwiches is being able to create a sandwich bar setting for a party, and allowing your guests to pick and choose what type of sandwich they wish to create.
Crafting a sandwich bar
Caitlin: There are so many possibilities with open-faced sandwiches. I knew I wanted to make roast beef, so I slow roasted a top round; which by the way, is a great idea if you're not a fan of the slimy lunchmeat that you often find at the deli. It was actually cheaper, it came out to about $6 per pound, and it was organic meat. We ended up having quite a bit of meat leftover for our lunches during the week - highly suggest it.
I started off each sandwich by making a garlic butter spread - roasted cloves of garlic with butter and oil. I spread that over pieces of crusty French bread and toasted it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Then I basically took about 5 or 6 ingredients and played around with them making 4 different open-faced sandwiches, all of which were amazing (rave reviews from the hubs and the kid). 

Here are the 4 different kinds:
Roast beef with Arugula, Blue Cheese and Red Pepper Dressing
Roast beef with Arugula, Red Pepper Dressing and Horseradish cream
Roast beef with Arugula, Havarti and Parsley Oil
Roast Beef with Mushrooms, Provolone and Red Pepper Dressing (and a little jus drizzled over the top)

I found a recipe for a Roasted Red Pepper spread which went amazing with the Roast Beef but also as a dip/spread on its own. I made enough to have some leftovers which we used a a dip with Pita chips. You can also make French Dip sandwiches with the juices you get from roasting the beef. I topped a little on the mushroom sandwich and it was fantastic.
I highly suggest trying these out - if not for the Superbowl, just as a dinner one night with a salad. They were absolutely delicious and having freshly roasted lunchmeat for the rest of the week was an added bonus.
Caitlin's Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwiches

Monica's Meatball Sandwich on Ciabatta

Monica:  I decided to make a meat and veggie version of basically the same sandwich. I thought it would make it easier, if you are planning to serve this to a larger crowd, to have the option of either meat or veggie (in this case, portobello mushrooms) served with a marinara sauce and your choice of cheese.  I also had options in terms of bread. The meatball recipe is inspired by a Mario Batali recipe, with some modifications. I preferred to use ciabatta (plain and olive ciabatta), but I also included a Cuban bolillo in the  mix in case someone preferred a softer bread.  Prep was easy, overall.  Making the meatballs was most the time consuming, but it really wasn't incredibly labor intensive.  The mushrooms were easy, just threw them on the grill with a bit of olive oil and salt and they cooked perfectly.  If you want the nice, gooey cheese oozing out of your sandwich be sure to close that open-faced sandwich and squish it together.  Yum!

Monica's Portabello Sandwich on Olive Ciabatta
Ingredient List
*For the Roast Beef Sandwiches:
1-2 pound beef roast
beef broth
rosemary, thyme, parsley (or any combination of fresh herbs)

*Red Pepper Spread:
1 large red bell pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
2 tablespoons  fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

*Parsley Oil
Fresh Parsley
Olive or Canola Oil
Salt and Pepper

*Horseradish Cream
Sour Cream
Blue Cheese
Arugula or other Greens

**For the Meatball Sandwiches:
3 cups Marinara Sauce (recipe to follow)
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Mozarella cheese, sliced
Fresh basil

Your favorite bread for sandwiches, I suggest Ciabatta or French rolls

Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 cans peeled whole tomatoes (28-oz each), crushed and juices reserved
Salt, to taste

***For the Portobello Sandwiches:
6 Portobello mushrooms
3 tbs Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp dried oregano

Marinara sauce, to pour over mushrooms
Mozarella Cheese
Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
Fresh basil

Your favorite bread for sandwiches, I suggest Ciabatta or French rolls

*For the Roast Beef Sandwiches
Preheat the oven to 225. Drizzle olive oil over the roast and season with salt and pepper. Chop the herbs and pat them around the meat. Place in a baking dish and pour beef broth and mushrooms around the bottom of the dish. Place in the oven for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours, or until the internal temp is at least 135. You may choose to cook it more, if you want it more well done. 

While it's cooking, start preparing all the toppings and sides.

Red Pepper Dressing:
Place the red pepper and about 7 cloves of garlic on a cookie sheet and put under the broiler. Turn it over every few minutes to get each side blackened. When it's done, about 7 or 8 minutes take it out and let it cool before you peel it, remove the seeds, and coarsely chop. Squeeze the garlic out of it's peel and set it aside. for something else. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add the shallots, cooking for about 1 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine all the ingredients except for the olive oil in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds, then with the machine running slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream and blend until thick and smooth. Transfer to a bowl and put in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Garlic Butter:
Using the garlic cloves that you just roasted, put it in a small pan with butter and olive oil. Turn the heat on until the butter melts and stir it together. Put aside until later.

Parsley Oil
Take about 1 cup of fresh parsley and blend together with oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Horseradish Cream
Combine sour cream and horseradish together, to your liking. If you want a stronger cream add more horseradish, and vice versa.

*When Roast Beef is done cooking, take it out of the oven and tent it with foil. Let it rest for about 15 minutes. After that, you can let it sit out a bit to slightly cool or you can begin slicing it. I sliced it pretty thin and set the sliced pieces aside on a separate plate. Then I took the mushrooms out and set aside to use on one of the sandwiches. You can also pour the juice from the pan into a small bowl and use it as jus for a French Dip.

Slice the bread and put on a cookie sheet. With a pastry brush, brush the garlic butter over each slice and put in the oven for about 5 minutes until slightly toasted.

At this point, you can either make the sandwiches I listed above, or you can go wild with your own creations. Another option is to lay out all of your spreads, oils, cream, cheese, greens and veggies and let people make their own sandwiches.

*The Marinara Sauce for the Meatball Sandwiches & Portobello Sandwiches:
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the thyme. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt once it is done.

**For the Meatball Sandwiches:
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, bring tomato sauce to a fast simmer.
Put the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and pour the milk over. Set aside.

In the bowl  combine the beef and the eggs. Grate the garlic over the bowl with a microplane. Add in grated pecorino, parsley and salt. Mix briefly just to combine. If you have a countertop mixer you can use it at this time with the paddle or dough hook attached.

Add the milk-soaked bread crumbs to the meat mixture and mix for about one minute until it comes together, but still has some texture and moisture.

Form the mixture make the meatballs, smaller than a tennis ball but larger than a golf ball. Gently add the meatballs to the sauce and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 30 - 35 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

Place the mozarella cheese on your sandwich bread by top the meatballs with fresh basil, freshly grated pecorino and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.  
 ***For the Portobello Sandwiches:
Heat grill. Combine olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic and oregano.  Brush on both sides of each mushroom.

Grill mushrooms until it softens and absorbs the garlic/oil mixture.

Place mozarella on roll of your choice, pour marinara sauce on bread, fresh basil, then place mushroom on top and crumbled gorgonzola.  You can drizzle some extra olive oil on top if you choose.  If you prefer gooey cheese on your bread, squish with top of bread.  Enjoy!

If you want to make a veggie sandwich, you can also grill some eggplant or attempt to make vegetarian eggplant "meat"balls. If you have a recipe for those vegetarian eggplant meatballs, we would love to have it.

Drink of Choice
Caitlin: If you're serving these at a Superbowl Party, my guess is that you're also drinking beer, which I think would be a great combination. I also recommend Deschutes brewery - a local craft beer here in Oregon, based out of Bend. Good stuff.
Monica:  I enjoyed my sandwich with a Passion Tea Lemonade with Raspberry.  I think any favorite iced tea, lemonade or iced tea-lemonade is perfect.

Caitlin: The NFL song, perhaps?
Monica: Super Bowl Party or just celebrating any occasion...I had to listen to some party music (from various eras) for this.
1)  Groove Is In the Heart - Dee Lite
2)  Ready for the Floor - Hot Chip
3)  You Rock My World - Michael Jackson 
4)  Having a Party - Sam Cooke
5)  Strangers in the Night - Frank Sinatra (not technically "party music", but love the "doobie, doobie, do")

A Recipe to Remember?
Of course.  Who doesn't like an open-faced sandwich or a warm sandwich.  Great for carnivores and vegetarians alike (with the appropriate fillings of course.)

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