First things first, Calabrian chilis can be found in many forms: fresh, dried, pickled, packed in oil, or worked into products like pastes, jams, or ‘nduja sausage. So you have options when it comes to incorporating the fiery peppers into tea sandwiches. Oil-packed Calabrian chilis tend to be the easiest to track down from supermarkets and specialty retailers — they’re also the best option for sandwich fillings based on their boldly preserved flavor and soft texture.
With a jar of spiced and smoky peppers selected, there are a few things to remember before assembling your cucumber sandwiches. For instance, if the chilis were packed in liquid, they need to be drained so as to avoid crafting a soggy sandwich. Additionally, not all Calabrian chilis will be sliced or chopped, which means you need to give them a quick mince. From there, mix the minced peppers directly into the cream cheese filling for the best diffusion of zesty flavor.
Once the Calabrian chilis have been prepped and handled accordingly, you can build the tea sandwiches. Start by spreading the chili-infused cream cheese on both sides of the bread, before layering on paper-thin cucumber slices and closing the sandwich. Slice into bite-size pieces, and serve. Just be sure to make enough, as these sweetly spicy tea sandwiches have a tendency to vanish quickly!