How do you satisfy the ravenous masses? Try sandwiches.
Nowadays, the most intriguingly delicious sandwiches are balanced meals -- entree, salad and bread. Pan-fried cod is topped with radicchio slaw. Edamame hummus gets crunchy with grated carrots and a salad that includes crushed wasabi peas. A Vietnamese-style pork belly banh mi incorporates pickled vegetables.
At its core, the sandwich is comfortingly familiar, but it's also become the current culinary muse of many a chef. Take the pork belly banh mi from Mendocino Farms Sandwiches & Marketplace in downtown Los Angeles. It has gained a loyal following among the hundreds of lunching workers the place serves each weekday.
Chef Judy Han takes a large slab of pork belly and braises it slowly, like Japanese buta kakuni, in a sweetened soy-sake broth spiked with ginger and garlic until it's fork tender. She chills it overnight, then dices and pan-fries the pieces so they're crisp on the outside and meltingly tender within.
At home, you can do the same thing -- roast the pork and make the quick-pickled vegetables over a weeknight or two.
Ready to roll
ON THE day of the game, assemble the sandwiches. Spread chipotle mayonnaise on a ciabatta roll (Han uses these thin, tender rolls instead of the baguettes more often used for banh mibanh mi).
Add a generous handful of pork, the pickled daikon and carrots, some cucumber, cilantro and a few slices of jalapeño, then grill. The crisp, fresh herb and tangy pickled vegetables provide a nice contrast to the rich bits of tender pork.
Or put your fish and slaw combo between a couple of slices of bread. Several hours or a day ahead, toss shredded radicchio and red cabbage with capers, olives and a light vinaigrette for an assertively colorful slaw.
Shortly before serving, toast thick pumpernickel slices and slather half with a little Dijon mustard and the rest with some creamy horseradish. Pan-fry lightly floured cod to a crisp golden-brown, and assemble the sandwiches as the fish comes out of the pan.
For an excitingly hot-sweet and hearty vegetarian sandwich, owner Jeffrey Price of Skratch Restaurant in Culver City offers an edamame hummus sandwich.
To make it at home, start with a robust do-ahead edamame spread, vibrant green and nutty (it's a blend of spinach, edamame and garbanzo beans) with notes of garlic and tahini. Make the miso dressing ahead of time too.
Assembly is simple; you could let your guests make their own. Just spread the hummus on a rustic ciabatta roll and top it with sliced cucumber and tomato along with a salad of baby greens tossed with crushed wasabi peas and a tangy miso vinaigrette.
Pile the sandwiches high and serve with a stack of napkins. You may have no control over the game, but you've just scored with the gang.