The Humble Sandwich: A Perfect Game Day Food
Tailgating is somewhat of an art form. The food you make has to be enjoyed by all. But at the same time, you've got to have a personal style and touch to set your game day celebration apart from everyone else's.
So as we head into football season, we thought we'd round up the 10 best sandwiches that embody the true essence of tailgating (and homegating) food and culture—and while we're at it, we thought we'd throw in a few tricks to help you make these puppies quickly and easily. Whether you enjoy them best heated, unheated, grilled, marinated, or layered, sandwiches are always perfectly portable and enjoyable.
Here are our top 10 tailgating favorites:
1. PULLED PORK
There are many reasons why pulled pork makes our Top 10 list. First, you can bake, smoke, or braise your seasoned pork butt days in advance so there isn't a crazy, anxiety-inducing rush on game day morning. And it happens to reheat remarkably well. Did we mention how yummy pulled pork is? It's sure to please.
We couldn't help but notice the latest trend found at the best barbecue houses of North Carolina. They're serving their pulled pork on Kings Hawaiian buns. We don't mind that one bit. After all, those buns are soft, sweet, and they soak up just enough of the pulled pork juice to make them extra dangerous. Slap a little coleslaw on top and dig in. They're literally insanely good.
Check out our BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich recipe.
2. THE FRENCH DIP
Funny enough, this sandwich wasn't born in France. Instead, it was born literally down the street from the old LA Colosseum. The French Dip is a perfect tailgating food because just like its close cousins from Philadelphia, the shaved steak can be precooked and reheated at the game on sheet trays. Grab a bunch of Portuguese rolls and a Thermos® or YETI® to use to pour the hot jus once you're at your tailgate. (We usually save just a bit of jus for drinking, especially on cold game days. Mmm!)
We're big fans of our French Dip recipe, and we threw in some little-known facts about the history of the sandwich just for kicks. You're welcome.
3. THE BREAKFAST BURRITO
OK, so it's not technically a sandwich, but hear us out. If done right, it's tough to find a more delicious, easily portable food than a breakfast burrito. Eggs, sausage, grilled onions, avocado, melted cheese...all wrapped up in a torpedo of piping hot goodness. Our favorite tactic for game day breakfast burrito perfection is to fill a sheet pan with these the night before and individually wrap each burrito in tin foil. Once you arrive at your tailgate, you can then unpack and reheat them in a steam tray or directly on the grill. We guarantee no one will be mad you thought of a breakfast option. Just don't forget the hot sauce!
4. THE ITALIAN COMBO
This is one of our faves. It's got so much texture, is perfectly salty (but not over salty, thanks to the tasty Italian meats), and is incredibly satisfying. What's the secret ingredient that makes them so damn good? The best Italian combos of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Jersey, and Staten Island (the best places to get Italian combos in the US) use…wait for it…aged provolone cheese. You get that along with sliced hard salami, ham, capocola (also known as capicola or coppa), roasted red peppers, shredded lettuce, and Italian dressing (or sometimes oil and vinegar). That cheese marries everything together in perfect harmony. We like ours on a sesame seed crusted roll.
5. THE CLASSIC PATTY MELT
A lot of tailgating foods are comfort foods. (Duh.) And a lot of comfort foods are served in diners. So why not bring the comforting vibe of everyone's favorite diner sandwich to your tailgating party? It's pretty much the same ingredients you'd already have on hand for burgers, so it's an easy one to whip up fairly quickly. Although we typically recommend using the stovetop at home, we love throwing these on the grill at a tailgate. Get ready for a taste of melted cheese heaven!
Check out our killer Classic Patty Melt recipe.
6. THE GAME DAY CROISSANT SANDWICH
Cooking and serving a brunch croissant successfully at a tailgate is all about one thing: the nonstick pan. Why? Because with all you've got going on at the tailgate, a nonstick pan is the only way to execute this without wanting to cry. But we have faith in you! We love this take on a breakfast sandwich any time of day, but there really is no better option for the morning, nor a better companion for a pregame mimosa. Pass the Sriracha, and let's get the party started!
Learn how to make these babies with our handy Game Day Croissant recipe.
7. THE MUFFULETTA
A New Orleans staple, the muffuletta is kind of a huge wedge/wheel almost Italian sandwich with a bunch of chopped olives, garlic, and oil that brings it all home. The bread we've been using for these is usually some kind of white boule, sliced through its equator. Layer the ingredients, then tightly wrap in tin foil for game-time snacking. Flip it every once in a while to reach olive flavor equilibrium, cut like a pizza, and serve!
We feature a crazy yummy muffuletta sandwich recipe in our game day cookbook. Watch our founder and CEO Daina Falk make it in this video.
8. THE PHILLY CHEESESTEAK
Add the Philly cheesesteak to the list of sandwiches that can be made earlier (or ahead) and reheated for the tailgate. Simply cover it in one layer of wax paper and one layer of aluminum foil, and you'll get the same effect as waiting for an hour in front of Pat's. These sandwiches are best served on soft hoagie rolls with thinly sliced grilled steak, grilled and chopped onions, mushrooms, and a combo of Cheese Whiz and thinly sliced provolone. (Hold the Cheese Whiz if you're not into processed cheese.) Don't forget the pickled hot cherry peppers for an extra kick and a nod to the king! #ginosforever
Want a "healthier" take on this sandwich? Take a peek at our version of the Philly Cheesesteak.
9. THE CUBAN
90 nautical miles (or 103 regular miles) away from Florida sits Cuba, a nation that has shared with us many a delectable dish. But none moreso than one of our favorites, the Cuban sandwich—also known as the Cubano. This sandwich is so versatile, it can easily be made both ahead of game day or at the tailgate in real time. The key to this sandwich lies in its ingredients (chicken cutlet, cured ham, pickles, and mayo). Also critical is the final preparation: the sandwich should be finished on a griddle with a ton of butter. (You can purchase a griddle pan and place it on your grill at the tailgate.) Done well, this sandwich can stand confidently by itself. That said, we love to serve it with a pickle.
Because everything is better with bacon, we added it to ours. Check out our take on the classic Cubano sandwich.
10. THE CUCUMBER SANDWICH
OK, so you might be reading this wondering if we've suddenly lost our minds and are now talking about the foods you need for your next tea party. Don't worry! We promise you we are very much sane, and once you learn our rationale behind picking this one, we think you'll be on board too. First of all, we had to throw a vegetarian-friendly option into the mix. Secondly, think about it: How simple is this sandwich? All you have to do is spread cream cheese on bread, top with a sliced cucumber and a dash of dill, and these bite-sized babies are ready to go. “Serve” open-faced or piled high in club-sandwich format. We won’t judge.
Take a look at our simple cucumber sandwich recipe.
We're confident that with these recipes in your back pocket, you'll be well equipped to keep everyone's taste buds (including your own) happy at your next tailgate. Enjoy!