Baked Sausage & Fontina Sandwiches

baked sausage & fontina sandwiches | sunsets on the side

baked sausage & fontina sandwiches | sunsets on the side

These sandwiches.

I remember these sandwiches from when I was a kid.  They were “special occasion” sandwiches in that I knew just about every time they made an appearance, we were going to have company.  My mom made these a lot of nights when she hosted her card club, and she’d serve them on some family holidays, too.  (Random: why doesn’t our generation play more cards)?

baked sausage & fontina sandwich ingredients | sunsets on the side

I always figured she made these for company because they were deliciously awesome (which, they are), but they’re also the perfect thing for entertaining.  They freeze beautifully, so you can make these in anticipation of any event (big football game, perhaps?).  After you make the sandwiches and wrap them in foil, stick them in the freezer instead of the oven.  Then, just pull them out when you need them and throw them straight into the oven to bake.  Or, just make them and bake them.

Prerogative.  It’s yours.

Either way, though, something happens to these babies when they bake.  They go into the oven looking very much like an Italian version of a sloppy joe, but when they come out, the sauce has sort of baked into the bun, and they’ve turned into a melty, saucy, delectable mix of sausage and herbs.

I’ve adapted these just slightly with a different cheese (mom uses mozzarella) and some fresh basil.  Otherwise, these are the original.

baked sausage and fontina sandwiches | sunsets on the side

Baked Sausage & Fontina Sandwiches
 
Author:
Makes: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground Italian sausage (hot or mild)
  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 T. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 8 French hamburger buns (or any sturdy roll)
  • 4 oz. fontina, sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the sausage and ground chuck in a large, non-stick skillet. Add the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook over medium heat, stirring often and breaking the meat up with your spatula, until it is cooked through (about 10-12 minutes).
  3. Remove from the heat and drain the grease from the pan.
  4. Place the skillet back over medium heat. Add the tomato sauce and oregano, and stir to combine. Simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat, and stir in the basil.
  6. Spoon the meat mixture evenly onto the hamburger buns, top the meat with fontina slices, and then wrap each sandwich in foil.
  7. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Creamy Sausage & Mushroom Dip

creamy sausage mushroom dip | sunsets on the side

creamy-sausage-mushroom-dip

I’m always on the hunt for great dips to serve throughout football season.  There’s just something that screams “game time,” when your guests walk into a house that smells incredible and already has some food on the (coffee)table.

It’s on.

I based this recipe on a crab dip that I’ve made a number of times (check that one out, too…it’s delicious).  But, I have some VIPs in my life that either don’t care for seafood or who are allergic.  So, I created this alternative version that’s chock full of savory sausage and mushrooms but brightened up with the fresh tomatoes, basil, and lemon juice.

My boys have a big game tonight.  Hopefully this dip will bring them (and your team) some much-needed luck!

Creamy Sausage & Mushroom Dip
 
Author:
Makes: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ lb. loose sweet Italian sausage
  • ½ - 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the sausage and cook, breaking it into small pieces with your spoon, until it’s golden brown and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a paper towel-covered plate to drain and cool.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms to the same pan (adding olive oil, if needed, depending on how much fat is left behind from the sausage), season with salt and pepper, and let cook for 8-10 minutes, until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated and they start to brown. Add the garlic and let cook 1 minute longer. Set aside to let cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and lemon juice until completely smooth. Fold in the grated cheese, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, green onions, and basil. Season with black pepper, and stir in the sausage and mushrooms.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is brown and the dip is bubbling.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Adapted from Bobby.