by Mario Batali
Q: I'm looking to elevate my Sunday football fare. What dish do you recommend for a tailgate or for Sunday night football party?
A: There's simply nothing better than eating hot food over a fire, beer in hand, in anticipation of a sporting event. Mozzarella in Carozza is grilled cheese as an Italian would make it. It is as simple as the Proustian grilled cheese of your childhood, with ingredients that bring it to a higher level.
What makes this grilled cheese sing is the choice of mozzarella. So don't make these unless you can find mozzarella from
As with any event, the key to success at a tailgate is doing as much cooking in advance as possible without sacrificing the deliciousness of the product. Prepare the sandwiches before the game and set aside or refrigerate. At halftime, assemble your egg mixture and bring the sandwiches to melted perfection.
When entertaining during a high stakes game, I sometimes plan the meal by quarter or half: vegetables and pickles for the pregame; crab cakes for the first half; hot dogs for half time; and spareribs for the second half.
The beauty of this dish (and a prerequisite for Sunday night cooking) is that it works both on the stove and on a charcoal grill in a parking lot. They're the ultimate elegant snacks that make grilled cheese sammies into performance art.
Mozzarella in Carozza works almost as well at a summer barbeque. Simply substitute an Aperol Spritz for the beer and imbibe.
Mozzarella in Carozza (Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches) Recipe
Makes 4 servings.
1 pound fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 4 equal pieces about 3 inches by 4 inches
Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices firm white sandwich bread
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
A grating of nutmeg
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place the mozzarella on 4 slices of bread. Cover with the 4 remaining slices to form sandwiches. Trim the crusts off to make from perfect 4-inch squares.
In a wide shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the cream, thyme leaves, salt and nutmeg, and whisk until well blended.
In a 10- to 12-inch nonstick sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook until the sizzling subsides. Dip 2 of the sandwiches into the egg mixture, turning to coat, place in the pan, and cook until golden brown on first side, about 2 minutes. Flip over and brown on the other side. Transfer the sandwiches to individual plates and repeat the process with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, and 2 sandwiches. Cut in half, and serve immediately.
Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe, Italian Cuisine