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July 22, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Picnic? Potluck? Barbecue bash? Quick, make this!

It’s that time of year again: Summer, when we’re called upon to get into the kitchen (or not) and create something our friends and family can enjoy in the great outdoors. Last week, the call came from my kid’s day camp. “We’re having a potluck lunch! Send your kid to camp with enough to feed his group” (25, including the counselors). So, there I was, at it again, making my now-famous “deli” sandwiches, a custom begun back when he was in kindergarten and I was asked to supply something for a class potluck that speaks to our family’s ethnic identity. Scratching my head (gefilte fish? I don’t think so), I came up with this:

In my house, there’s no sub-stitute for this crowd pleaser. Homemade “hoagies” — as they call them where I grew up.

What you put in this quick-fix is up to you, and where you buy the ingredients marks the difference between gour-may and O.K. — to say nothing of Veuve Clicquot tastes and Budweiser pockets. If I was hoping to impress my fancy food-focused friends, I might take a trip to DeLaurenti for provisions. Instead, I head straight to Albertson’s, a modest-priced one-stop-shop for this project.

What? You thought I was going to Salumi Artisan Cured Meats? Hey, I said these were for my kid’s camp, not my best friends.

There, they’ve got great prices on “lunch meats” — including those kid-friendly staples, ham and turkey, plus the kind of cheese kids like: square cheese. Oh, and then there’s the most important part of this project: big, squishy French bread, baked throughout the day in Albertson’s bakeshop. Because it’s fresh, you can easily scoop out the “extra” spongy innards from the top half of the loaf, an important step in the assembly process.

Once you get the stuff home, you can build these out in less than a half-hour.

You can be as generous or penurious with the meats and cheeses as you’d like, and cut them into big slices or small ones, securing each hunk with a toothpick (though long wooden skewers, cut in half, work better). I stocked up on those higher-quality sandwich-holding skewers at Daiso, Japan’s answer to the Dollar Store, with several area locations including my favorite one, conveniently located across from Uwajimaya (bring cash if you go).

I can usually load up two sheet-pans-worth of mini-giant-subs using four or five loaves of bread, three or four pounds of meats, and two pounds of cheese — the latter upped since Nate started reminding me to “make a vegetarian sub!” because some of his friends and counselors don’t eat meat.

Now tell me: What’s your recipe for success when you need picnic/potluck/barbecue fixin’s and you need to make them fast?

The shirt says, “got sushi?” Not today. But these sandwiches (sorry, soccer kids!) always get three cheers.

Comments | More in Recipes | Topics: Kid-friendly

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