Master Chef’s grilled cheese sliders a Super Bowl win

A super party deserves super food.

As I was thumbing through Graham Elliot’s new cookbook, “Cooking Like a Master Chef,” I found a recipe that I think will be a winner, no matter which Super Bowl team you’ll be cheering on.

These little sandwiches are almost to die for and they’re simple to put together. I recommend making the Tomato Marmalade ahead of time (it keeps for two days in the fridge), then baking the sliders once the game has started. The last step of using a panini press or hot frying pan gives the sandwiches a pleasant, crunchy finish, but if you like your sliders soft, you can eliminate this step.

You’ll find pancetta at the deli. I asked for very thin slices so they’d cook thoroughly in a matter of a few minutes. If you can’t find potato rolls at your grocery store, try Hawaiian rolls or mini burger buns instead.

With this recipe, earning title of Super Bowl 50 Party Food Champ couldn’t be any easier.


Tomato Marmalade

1 tomato, diced

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 small potato rolls (1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter)

2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about ½ cup)

4 slices pancetta, large enough to nearly cover each half of the rolls (see Note)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. for the marmalade, in a saucepan, mix the tomatoes with the onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes break down and start to resemble a sauce. Stir occasionally during cooking to prevent sticking and encourage even cooking.

2. Add the vinegar and honey and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes longer, or until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Set the marmalade aside to cool. If not using right away, transfer to a container with a lid and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Split the rolls, put them on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with the cheese. Put a slice of pancetta on top of the cheese in each roll and bake for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread 2 tablespoons of the marmalade on one side of each cheese-and-pancetta topped roll. Top with the other side of each roll so that the cheese is facing in.

7. One at a time, transfer the sandwiches to a panini press or hot frying pan set over medium-high heat (if using a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan first) and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and crunchy. If using a frying pan, turn the bread once during the cooking so that both sides of the roll brown. Repeat with the other sandwich.

8. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.

Note: Lots of folks don’t think there’s much difference between pancetta and bacon. True. You can usually substitute bacon for pancetta and get good results, but without question pancetta is worth seeking out. You’ll be rewarded every time. The primary difference is that pancetta is not smoked. It’s made from the pork belly that’s been rubbed with spices and then cured for two or three months. This makes it moister than our slab bacon and incredibly tasty.

From the book: “Cooking Like a Master Chef: 100 Recipes to Make the Everyday Extraordinary” by Graham Elliot with Mary Goodbody. Foreword by Gordon Ramsay; 254 pages, $30. Published by Atria, 2015.

What you get: Here is a brilliant collection of recipes that cover appetizers, soups and salads, pasta and grains, seafood, meats, vegetables and desserts. The recipes are creative, the directions simple, and the photographs show off the rewards. You’ll learn a lot about ingredients and cooking techniques with Grahams tips. I want to try Graham’s Signature Caesar Salad, Maple-Bourbon-Glazed Scallops with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard, French Lentils with Pearl Onions and Lemon Ricotta Fritters.

In his own words: “Recipes are nothing more than ideas, and for each one there are any number of riffs that allow the resourceful cook to have fun.”