Rock my crock pot
May 9, 2016 8:43 AM   Subscribe

I want to make some mini hot ham and cheese sandwiches for Teacher Appreciation Week at my kids' school. Will this recipe translate to a crock pot? Please advise me!

It's Teacher Appreciation Week at my kids' school, and each room takes turns bringing in food. From talking to the teachers I know that sometimes the treats are heavy on cookies/brownies and not so much on savory type foods. The overall goal is that the teachers actually can eat a lunchtime meal each day with what is brought in, but if it's all cookies and donuts that doesn't really work.

So I wanted to bring in some mini sandwiches like these:

The problem is they need to be heated for 20 minutes, and are going to be much better hot than room temp by lunchtime (if I heated at home in the morning and brought them in already warm). There is an oven in their breakroom, so worst case I could leave a note and tell them to heat at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

But...could I somehow use my crockpot for this? Could I stack the sandwiches in it and set it to low or warm? Would they be okay by noon, or crazy dried out? Complication: I want to make one batch with ham or turkey and one with no meat (probably will add in tomato, onion, maybe some other vegetable). I don't want to cross contaminate the meat and the non-meat. Could I separate them with foil?

Tell me if this will never work.
posted by handful of rain to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The concern I have with using crock pot is the sandwiches will get soggy.
posted by tman99 at 8:47 AM on May 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't do this particular recipe because I don't think it's likely to hold well in a crockpot (as with tman99, I would be most concerned about extreme sogginess). But you could definitely do a mini-sandwich idea! I would suggest something like pulled chicken/pork in the crockpot, with mini buns + fixings on the side.

Alternately, I think cold ham and cheese sandwiches would still be really yummy. You could wrap up the mini sandwiches individually so they are easy to take back to the classroom if teachers need to grab and go.

I would not suggest taking in a tray and asking the teachers to heat them for 20 minutes, because people's breaks are almost certainly not all at the same time (if they were, who would be watching the kids?!) and they may not have more than 20 minutes for lunch anyway (probably they don't have 20 minutes to stand around the break room waiting for lunch to heat up). Whatever you do should be pretty grab-and-go.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:54 AM on May 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Nope, this won't work. Crockpots can be used to keep things warm, but they have to be things with a certain amount of liquid content.

Pulled pork is a great idea, except doesn't take into account Muslim or Jewish kids whose families are observant. Separating with foil is fine for some people, not fine for others.

In the interests of inclusivity, I'd suggest doing something vegetarian. No problem for students who keep halal or kosher, no problem for vegetarian students. Please also be sure to check with the teacher about any food allergies, because you'll need to be very careful with your prep.

If you're already thinking about tomato... how about doing Caprese sandwiches? Tomato, good mozzarella, basil, olive oil and a smidge of balsamic vinegar. Absolutely delicious, unlikely to tick many food allergy boxes (buffalo mozzarella is lactose free so unless there's a casein allergy you're fine; nightshade (tomato) allergies aren't that common), vegetarian.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:03 AM on May 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I haven't tried these, but maybe tacos de canasta will work better, and still achieve the end result of a warm savory sandwich-type thing.
posted by Fig at 9:14 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I would make individual sandwiches, brushing the mustard mixture onto the inside of the bread (like a regular sandwich), wrap each one in foil, bake in my oven, remove from oven to crock pot and take the crock pot to school and keep it on warm in the teacher's break room.
posted by sarajane at 9:28 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

As a teacher I'd be totally happy with cold sandwiches instead of the usual donuts and pastries, just saying.

Sometimes parents will come in before lunch and heat up food for us in the lounge... is that a possibility?
posted by Huck500 at 9:40 AM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I bet you could make a recipe similar to that that would work in a crockpot. Something more scoopable/casserole-ish

I make a really nice ham/cheese tortilla roll up thing. You could make variants on it (vegetarian, turkey), but they are nice alternative to plain sandwiches, and keep well.
posted by Ftsqg at 9:52 AM on May 9, 2016

If you can't get up to school at lunch time, do you have a friend who could? That person could keep them refrigerated until then and either take them up to school after heating at home or bake at school. Either way probably a good idea to pack the hot sandwiches in a small cooler so they're still hot when eaten. Sounds yummy!
posted by lakeroon at 10:19 AM on May 9, 2016

(The reason I suggest going as vegetarian and allergen-free as possible is that it really sucks to be that one kid who can't have what the other kids have. Being singled out is no fun for anyone, and it's really great for kids to feel as though they belong and they're not marked as an outsider.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:23 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

feckless fecal fear mongering - based on the question, though, it sounds like this is for a teacher lunch rather than a treat/meal for students. While it is still important to make sure that there are options for everyone, I don't think people are going to feel singled out by not being able to eat everything on the table!
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:27 AM on May 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Thank you all for the reality check and tasty ideas! I am thinking about making them at home, individually wrapping and then just keeping warm in the crockpot. I think the caprese is a good idea; I will do a half batch of those as well, and keep them separate. I can't make another trip back to school to do any heating or prep myself pre-lunch.

This is indeed for teachers, not kids, and we have not been warned of any allergies/insensitivities, other than being reminded to accommodate vegetarians. Typically there is quite a lot of food, and people take small portions of a few things vs. try to eat everything available.
posted by handful of rain at 12:20 PM on May 9, 2016

Here is a recipe for ham-and-cheese sandwiches, calls for cooking for a long time on LOW (presumably to allow to warm through without scorching the bread). So it appears yes, you can do this.

I think this would work for any sandwich you want, so long as the fillings aren't ones that tend to make a sandwich soggy (like fresh-sliced tomatoes with the juices and seeds). That is more of a concern if using typical dinner roll buns, but crustier breads will take it better.
posted by lizbunny at 12:23 PM on May 9, 2016

lizbunny's recipe link seems to just be a suggestion to heat the filling gloop in the slow cooker; the bread doesn't seem to go in at any point. (Given what a bad recipe writer the blogger is, I would give that shiz a test run first...) But that should work, a pot full of hot filling, a scoop, and buns? With adequate napkins!

There is a sort of half-sandwich half-quiche recipe I have seen in a lot of 50s-70s church/community cookbooks and I don't know how to Google it because I have a fever and my memory is all shot and I don't know what they tended to call it, but maybe somebody else will recognise it. It involves making sandwiches (I'm vegetarian so have done it with cheese and onion, not ham, but I can't imagine it wouldn't translate to a ham thing), placing the sandwiches in a casserole dish, and pouring a quiche-style egg + milk/cream over it and baking. You can sort of see where the buns are and scoop one out and there it is, covered in...quiche, sort of. I think sometimes people called it "egg puff something-or-other"? You'd have to do some garnishing (thinly sliced red pepper and red onion added at the last bit of cooking, minced parsley strewn about just before serving?) to make it look at least a tiny bit fancy, but when I've made this "puff" idea it's been pretty tasty.

(feckless fecal, I always thought it made me cool to be the vegetarian kid in an era where many people hadn't even heard of vegetarians. I did eat a lot of plain buns, but I ate them with pride in being unique. Maybe...maybe I wasn't cool? Nah, there's no way...)
posted by kmennie at 12:45 PM on May 9, 2016

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