It’s not every day you see a giant hoagie, unless, of course, you’re Matt Cahn, whose Middle Child sandwich shop in Philadelphia offers 3- and 6-foot hoagies from its catering menu day in and day out. When Middle Child makes hoagies, he tends to “ham” the filling, Cahn says. A giant hoagie roll can handle a lot, but let’s be real: As Cahn says, “These are supposed to be a little wacky.”
Most home cooks won’t work on such a large scale; a 6-foot roll is hard to come by (unless you have a bakery connection, which Cahn does and keeps close to his chest), though a 3-foot might be more doable. Chances are, a really big hoagie at home means building on a big loaf of bread, which is still a lot of sandwich. As such, some considerations are in order.
Take to heart the fact that not all sandwiches on the Middle Child menu are available extra large. Since giant sandwiches often sit out for a while (say, at an event like a picnic), cold, layered, multi-component options (like muffulettas, Italian subs, or turkey hoagies) often give the best results. Spreads like mayonnaise and oil will have plenty of time to absorb into the bread, without making the sandwich too soggy. “A big, hot sandwich doesn’t hold up as well, it gets a little soggy,” says Cahn.
In his opinion, a particularly good option for a giant hoagie is what his menu calls So Long Sal!, which is loaded with Italian meats and cheeses. Arugula, red onion, artichoke relish and a simple balsamic mayonnaise round it out. “You want fat, you want acid, you want some greens for freshness,” says Cahn. The riff of him in an Italian submarine ticks all the boxes.
The general rules of assembly for avoiding a soggy sandwich apply to large-format hoagies, of course. First, protect the bread. “You always want to have a mayonnaise or a fat [like avocado] in the bread,” Cahn says, as it creates a barrier against any wet ingredients. The meat, a generous amount, continues next. With jumbo rolls, “the bread is much taller, so it can carry more ingredients,” Cahn notes. “Then place the wetter stuff toward the top so it doesn’t drip onto the bread as much.” Instead of drizzling oil and vinegar over the entire sandwich, he opts for a more even distribution of flavor by dressing the vegetables like you would a salad in a separate bowl, then layering them on top of the hoagie before topping it with the remaining bread.
To finish, wrap the sandwich in a layer of waxed paper, followed by a layer of cling film, and allow everything to come together. “Throw it in his backpack, take a little care of it, and take it on a picnic,” says Cahn. “That’s how I love him.”
So Long Salt Giant Hoagie Recipe
By Matthew Cahn and Edwin De La Rosa of Middle Child and Middle Child Clubhouse
Serves about 20
For the house dressing:
10 to 15 garlic cloves, depending on size, peeled, divided
2 cups extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ cup fresh basil
¼ cup fresh parsley
Pinch of salt
pinch of white sugar
A pinch of red pepper flakes
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
⅛ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons of Calabrian chili
2 teaspoons of yellow mustard
1¼ cups Duke’s or Kewpie mayonnaise
For the artichoke seasoning:
36 ounces, or about 3 cups, oil-marinated artichoke hearts, jarred or canned
2 to 3 lemons, depending on the size
8 teaspoons Calabrian chili
Dried Italian herbs, to taste
For sandwich assembly:
1 3 foot hoagie or 4 baguettes
3 cups artichoke seasoning
2 cups of house dressing
¾ pound, or about 12 thin slices of prosciutto cotto
¾ pound, or about 27 medium slices of Genoa salami
½ pound, or about 12 medium slices of sharp provolone cheese
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 to 6 ounces arugula
1 small red onion, peeled
¼ pound fresh Parmesan cheese
Black pepper, to taste
Make the house dressing:
Step 1: The first big step is to confit some garlic. You can do this while you prepare the rest of the recipe; you have about 20 minutes before it’s ready. Put about 8 garlic cloves (this should be enough to fill ¼ cup) and about 1⅔ cup of olive oil in a small pot or saucepan. You want the garlic to be mostly submerged in the oil. Turn the heat to low and let the garlic simmer for about 20 minutes. When finished, it should be a light golden brown in color and smooth to the touch; it should offer no resistance when pressed with a fork.
Step 2: Strain and reserve the confit garlic. You won’t need the leftover garlic oil for this recipe, but it’s a really good thing to save for other uses in the kitchen. Set the garlic aside for now.
Step 3: The second big step is to make a “green sauce” herb. You can do it on a cutting board with a knife, or you can do it in a mortar and pestle. Either way it’s great! We like the cutting board method. Choose the basil and parsley. Place them on your cutting board and cut into large chunks. Place a pinch of salt, a pinch of white sugar, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a few cracks of black pepper over the herbs. Keep chopping until they are finely chopped and you no longer see or feel the salt and sugar. Let it rest and move on.
Stage 4: The third big step is to make the mayonnaise base! Take the food processor and add the remaining ⅓ cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, Calabrian chile, and yellow mustard. Add 3 fresh garlic cloves and all the confit garlic. Mix until smooth.
Step 5: Add the mayonnaise to the food processor and continue mixing.
Step 6: Scrape the contents of the food processor into a mixing bowl. Add the chopped herbs from the cutting board to the mayonnaise mixture. Beat until evenly incorporated. Set aside.
Make the Artichoke Relish:
Step 1: Open and drain the artichoke hearts. If using hearts marinated in oil, save the liquid. If using artichoke hearts in water, discard the liquid. You should be left with enough artichoke hearts to fill 3 cups when drained and packed tightly. Put them in a food processor.
Step 2: Grate the lemons until you have 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Squeeze the lemons until you get ⅓ cup of lemon juice. Add both to the food processor.
Step 3: Add the Calabrian chile to the food processor.
Stage 4: Put 3 tablespoons of the reserved oil from the artichoke hearts in the food processor. Or if you used canned artichokes in water, add a drizzle of good olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a couple of whisks of whatever dried Italian herbs you have on hand in the food processor along with the artichokes.
Step 5: Pulse the food processor until you have a spreadable seasoning. It shouldn’t be a paste, but you should still be able to spread it easily.
Assemble the sandwich:
Step 1: Cut the hoagie or baguettes in half.
Step 2: Evenly spread all of the artichoke relish on the top half of the bread.
Step 3: Evenly distribute all of the house dressing on the top and bottom halves of the bun.
Stage 4: Distribute and evenly stack the ham, salami, and provolone cheese on the bottom half of the bread. We like to shred the ham a bit so it has a lot of height and some nice nooks and crannies.
Step 5: In a bowl, lightly mix together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard as if making a vinaigrette.
Step 6: Make a small salad by putting the arugula in a separate bowl. Use a mandoline to shave the red onion as thin as you can, or just use a knife. Put the red onion in the arugula and mix. Then dress it with the vinaigrette and toss it around until it’s evenly coated but not soggy.
Step 7: Put the dressed salad on top of the meats and cheeses.
Step 8: Shave the Parmesan cheese with a cheese grater or microplane directly onto the salad. Season to taste with black pepper.
Step 9: Close the sandwich, cut and enjoy! It’s best eaten an hour or two later, once it’s gotten nice and juicy.
dina avila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe tested by Ivy Manning
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