Hot Sandwiches on Cold Night

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By the time mid-December rolls around, you’ve already prepared Thanksgiving dinner, followed immediately by eight nights of latkes and donuts during Chanukah.

Because you’ve made some extraordinary, but labor-intensive meals lately, it’s time to lighten the dinner prep load.
Dinner doesn’t have to be a five-star production. Instead, serve hot sandwiches once in a while, which are fun to assemble and exciting to eat. Layer them up with a substantial protein, such as meat or cheese, and an array of vegetables, which can be leftovers. Use quality bread.
If you’ve got a panini press, you’re in business. But if not, sandwiches can be heated on a nonstick skillet or ridged griddle. The easiest hot sandwich to make is melted cheese on toast. The second easiest is a fried egg nestled between two pieces of lightly toasted bread.
If the idea of a sandwich dinner seems meager, add a salad or tureen of soup to the menu. No one will leave the table hungry. I guarantee it.
My family enjoys building their own sandwiches, which is much easier for me. In our house,
hot sandwich night is the most popular dinner of the week.
If you prepare sandwiches in a nonstick panini maker, ridged griddle or skillet, you will not need to coat the pan with oil.
Reuben Sandwich Revisited | Meat
Serves 4
¼ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon capers drained
A sprinkling of garlic powder
8-ounce can of sauerkraut
8 slices of rye bread
12 slices of deli corned beef at room temperature
Thin slices of red onion, broken into rings
Russian dressing: Place the mayonnaise, ketchup, capers and garlic powder in a small bowl. Whisk the ingredients together with a fork until completely combined. Reserve.
Place the sauerkraut in a fine sieve and squeeze out the liquid, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Move the sauerkraut to a double layer of paper towels and drain further. Reserve.
Spread one side of each piece of bread with the Russian dressing. Layer three slices of corned beef, a generous amount of sauerkraut and red onion onto four pieces of bread. Top them with the remaining bread slices, placing the Russian dressing sides down, covering the onion.
Follow the finishing directions below.
Cubano Sandwich Kosher Style | Meat
Serves 4
2 (8-10 inch) Cuban sandwich loaves or baguette-like Italian bread
Dijon mustard for spreading
Mayonnaise for spreading
1½ pounds roasted chicken breast. It can be from leftovers, or buy a rotisserie chicken.
4 large dill pickles, drained and sliced thin
Dried oregano for sprinkling
Kosher salt for sprinkling
Black pepper for sprinkling
Split the loaves in half lengthwise. Spread mustard on the inside of the bottom side of each loaf. Spread mayonnaise on the inside of the top side
of each loaf.
Slice the chicken as thin as possible. Place the chicken slices over the mustard. Sprinkle on oregano, salt and pepper. Arrange the pickles on top. Cover with the top side of each loaf, mayonnaise side down. Cut the loaves in half.
Follow the finishing directions below.
Swiss and Sautéed Mushroom Sandwich | Dairy
Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
1 pound sliced mushrooms
Kosher salt to taste
8 slices sourdough bread
12 slices of Swiss cheese
Heat the olive oil over a medium-low flame in a large skillet. Place the mushrooms in the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Sauté until caramelized. Remove them from the flame and cool them briefly.
Place two slices of Swiss cheese each onto four pieces of bread, using 8 slices of Swiss. Spoon mushrooms over the cheese. (If there are more mushrooms than needed, serve them beside the sandwiches.) Top with the remaining 4 slices of Swiss and then a piece of bread.
Follow the finishing directions below.
Toasted Turkey Club Sandwich | Meat
Serves 4
1 large tomato, sliced thin
8 slices turkey bacon
8 slices of multigrain bread
Dijon mustard for spreading
8-12 slices of leftover turkey or deli turkey at room temperature
4 lettuce leaves
Honey for drizzling
Place the tomato slices on a paper towel. Cover them with another paper towel and gently press to remove moisture. Reserve.
Fry the turkey bacon on a medium flame until crisp in a large skillet or griddle. Drain it on paper towels and reserve.
Spread mustard on one side of each piece of bread. Over the mustard, layer the turkey, a drizzle of honey, lettuce, tomato slices and turkey bacon. Drizzle on a little more honey. Top with the bread, mustard side down.
Follow the finishing directions below.
Finishing directions: Preheat the panini maker, ridged griddle or skillet. Flatten the sandwiches a bit with your palm.
If you’re using a panini maker, place the sandwiches inside and lower the lid. Heat them until the bread is toasted and the sandwiches are warmed through. The Swiss cheese in that sandwich should be melted.
Or move the sandwiches to a preheated griddle or skillet. Take turns pressing the sandwiches down with a wide, firm spatula. When the bottom piece of bread toasts, flip the sandwiches to the other side and continue pressing with a spatula until the other side is crisp and the contents are warmed through.
Serve immediately.


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