Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Italian Sub

As far as I know, the Italian sub has nothing to do with Italy, but is one of America's favorite meals. I imagine that we all have our own definition of the true Italian sub but there's no denying that whatever we think an Italian sub is or whatever we call it, be it a sub, a hero, a grinder, or a hoagie, it is one of our favorite sandwiches. It certainly is my all-time favorite.

Now, That's an Italian Sub!
I had a terrible one recently on crappy bread slathered in mayonnaise from a local sandwich shop whose claim to fame is that it is the best sandwich shop here in the Winchester area. That's a rather inauspicious claim, alas. That experience made me realize that if I didn't want to make my own Italian sub, I was going to have to travel to Northern Virginia to get a great one.

And that opportunity arose this weekend when we went in to McLean to spend Father's Day with Ann's parents. We dropped by a store that is widely renowned throughout the region for its subs. In anticipation, I didn't really eat breakfast and so I was starving when we arrived there around 2:30 in the afternoon. Our shopping for Father's Day dinner (mezze rigatoni with artichokes, pancetta, rosemary, and Fontina) complete, we sat down to eat our lunch, a sub for me, a slice of pizza for Ann's mother Mary, and a calzone for Ann.

Just opening the wrapping, I was underwhelmed by the soft, chewy sub roll. I get it that some people like this soft squishy bread, but count me out of that crowd. I want a crusty loaf with some real chew. And that soft bread was enough to kill the experience for me, not that you could have told by the way that I inhaled the sandwich, starving as I was. The ingredients in the sandwich were really good and the sweet peppers in the middle were outstanding; it was just the bread that was lacking.

While I was shopping for wine for our Father's Day dinner, Ann had the presence of mind to get a half-pound each of provolone, prosciutto di San Daniele, mortadella, coppa (capocollo), and a nice soppressata. The original thinking was that we would do antipasti before our pasta (ouch, that was punful), but it turned out that Bob was starving and we got straight into dinner proper, leaving us all the cold cuts to take home.

The quality of the cold cuts was really good. The mortadella and soppressata were pretty good, not the best we've ever had, but plenty good for sandwiches. The coppa was flat out amazing. The prosciutto was off-the-charts good. The provolone was provolone.

And so last evening, I sliced some tomato and red onion, washed a little lettuce, and toasted some really good bread. Before I toasted the bread, I drizzled the cut surface in olive oil. After toasting, I drizzled it with Sherry vinegar and sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and dried oregano. And then it was a matter of building the sandwiches, one of which you see in the photo above.

Ann said to me with no disrespect intended to my skills as a chef, "It doesn't take any skill to make a sandwich like this, does it?" No, it doesn't. Anyone given these ingredients could make such an amazing sandwich. So why in the name of the culinary gods do they not?

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