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Sandwiches made right are an ideal, hearty meal for the casual tailgate party


Whenever football fans gather, there will be tailgate parties with family and friends. It's a chance to beat the traffic by arriving as much as three hours before kickoff and having lunch or supper before the game.

Sandwiches are a good choice for tailgating because of their ease of preparation and "holding" ability. If you're not in the mood to prepare them yourself, then order them -- especially oversize subs -- from a deli or supermarket a day ahead.

For a successful pregame party, you need to be prepared. Besides paper or plastic plates, you'll need plastic knives, forks, spoons and glasses. Big napkins are essential because this is often a stand-up-and-eat affair. Those disposable cleanup cloths will allow you to arrive at kickoff with non-sticky hands as well.

Here are some basics for making sandwiches which allow everyone to enjoy the parking lot party. They are gleaned from "The Sandwich Book," by Judy Gethers (Random House).

Toasted bread should be spread with butter or other spreads as soon as possible to prevent drying and breaking.

Butter, margarine or cream cheese should be at room temperature for easier spreading.

A sandwich can become a complete meal if filled with meat, cheese or other protein foods and vegetables and/or salad greens.

It is best to prepare sandwiches as close to serving time as possible. However, if you must prepare them ahead of time, wrap well and store in a cool spot. Save "wet" ingredients, such as tomato slices or lettuce leaves, for the last minute so moisture doesn't seep into the bread.

Following are recipes for sandwiches ideal for casual tailgate parties. Bowls of olives and dry-roasted nuts can provide snacks during setup. Just add beverages. Don't forget a bottle of sparkling water to cleanse the palate, in addition to any other beverages.

The first three recipes are from "Finger Foods," by Mable Hoffman (Price Stern).

Layered tuna-egg loaf

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

1 20-inch French bread baguette

4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1/4 cup chopped ripe olives

2 tablespoons canned diced green chilies

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

1 (6 1/2 -ounce) can tuna, drained and flaked

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice bread lengthwise into 3 equal pieces. In small bowl, combine eggs, olives, chilies and cheese. Spread mixture on cut side of bottom layer of bread. Top with second bread layer.

In second small bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, green onion and red pepper. Spread on middle layer of bread. Cover with top of bread. Wrap entire loaf in foil.

Bake in oven 20 minutes or until hot. Remove from oven; cut loaf crosswise into 2- or 2 1/2 -inch slices. Serve warm.

Barbecued beef on a bun

Makes 10 servings.

2 pounds beef stewing pieces or beef chuck roast, cut in cubes

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup beef stock or bouillon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

10 kaiser rolls or onions rolls, split, warmed

In a 4-quart Dutch oven, combine meat with remaining ingredients except rolls. Cover and simmer over low heat 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is very tender.

Place warm meat mixture in a food processor fitted with metal blade. Process briefly to shred or shred by hand using forks. Spoon about 1/2 cup meat and sauce onto each roll. Serve hot or warm.

Grilled chili-dog burritos

Makes 10 servings.

During football season it's not unusual for the stadium parking lot to be dotted with barbecue grills. Everything in this hearty entree is heated or cooked on the barbecue. Let the beans heat on the edge of the grill while the hot dogs cook over more intense coals.

1 (8-ounce) can refried beans

10 beef or turkey franks

10 5-inch corn tortillas

3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup shredded lettuce

fresh salsa (recipe follows)

Heat beans in small pan on hot barbecue grill. Cut franks to within 1/4 inch of other side. Place on a hot grill 4 to 5 inches from heat. Cook 5 minutes or until hot and sizzling. At last minute, heat tortillas on grill. Turn when hot but still soft and heat other side. Place 1 frank on each tortilla. Top with beans, cheese and shredded lettuce; then with salsa.

Fresh salsa

Makes 4 servings.

1 large tomato, chopped

1 California green chili or jalapeno pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped cilantro

2 green onions, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

In small bowl, combine tomato, green chili, cilantro, green onions and salt. Stir to blend. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This cheese spread is great on specialty breads, especially party-size rounds, and it has an added advantage -- it can be made several days before game time and stored in the refrigerator.

Cheddar-chili spread

Makes 3 cups.

2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

2/3 cup milk

1 pound (4 cups) finely shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno chilies; seeded or (for a milder flavor) canned chopped green chilies

2 tablespoons finely chopped pimiento

Combine cream cheese and milk in medium bowl. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Add Cheddar cheese, chilies and pimento. Stir until well blended. Spoon cheese mixture into bowl. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week. Allow to soften at room temperature 15-20 minutes before serving.

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