Monday, August 09, 2004

Recipe: Oven baked simple subs

Whenever we have guests, Cathy is forever buying cold cuts – “so they can have sandwiches for lunch.” Of course, ‘they’ never do. And we have lunch maybe twice a month. Eventually, after throwing out half a zillion dollars worth of slimy ham and fuzzy roast beef and blue Swiss cheese, light dawned. Freeze the stuff!

So I did.

But eventually, the freezer fills up, and then what do you do? Well, you make simple subs, that’s what . . .

Here’s what you’ll need:
For each sub

2 thin (near shaved) slices deli ham (Polish is our favorite)

2 (as above) slices deli Roast Beef (our favorite is Italian)

1 ‘stick’ Gruyere or provolone or jack or . . . cheese (¼” x 3” or so)

1 full slice deli Swiss (thin, not those slabs that come pre-cut)

1 slice mozzarella (~ 1 oz.)

1 – 2 pepperoncini




ripe olives

green bell pepper

mustard (or mayo or spiced oil or . . .)

6” sub roll

whole celery seed

cookie sheet

Here’s how you do it . . .

Preheat the oven to 450 ˚F

Start with the sub rolls, so they have time to ‘stale up’ a bit while you prepare everything else. Set the sub rolls out on your cookie sheet (or sheet pan or slab of aluminum foil or . . . you’ll want something underneath the subs when they go into the oven to protect against spills). If you get your sub rolls, as we do, in a package of 6 (or so), they come stuck together side to side. It’s one of those flat sides you’ll want for the bottom and top of your sandwich. The flattest side goes on the bottom – so the sub will stand up by itself on the pan. So choose a bottom side down for each sub.

Now, Take your favorite serrated edge bread knife and cut a little ½” deep by 1” wide, shallow sided trough down the center of the roll. Don’t go all the way out to either end – leave about ½” to ¾” at the ends of the roll. You just sort of saw very gently, with the knife at a shallow angle, as if you were slicing the seeds out of half a cucumber. Down one side then up the other, until you can lift off the narrow wedge of bread. (Have a snack, feed it to the birds, or save it for breadcrumbs . . .) Then, vertically slit the center of the trough from end to end, down to about 1/3” from the bottom of the roll. You want to make a slit you can stuff with all the stuff, without allowing the sub to lose its bottom or split side to side.

Now that the hard part is over, hey, the rest is a piece of cake . . .

Puncture your pepperoncini(s) to let the liquid drain out, then slice off (or pull off and munch or . . .) the stem end. Get your knuckles bent under and chiffonade the pepper(s) into glorious little rings. That just means slice paper thin.

Lay out the slices of ham and roast beef, and place a little row of pepperoncini along one edge of each. Pick the edge you will roll from, so the peppers end up in the center of the meat. If you only want to use one slice of each meat per sandwich, roll them along the long edge, so the final roll of meat is as long as possible. If you’ll be using several rolls per sub, roll each one for the shortest length. Either way, when you chomp a roll of meat, you should find some pepperoncini in the center. Set aside.

Break off a hunk of lettuce large enough to supply the number of subs you’re trying to make. ¼ head of iceberg will feed 4 – 8 subs, so judge accordingly. (‘Cause once you take a knife to a head of lettuce, any leftover will rot in about 24 hours.) Slice off very thin shreds of lettuce to fill your subs.

Similar for the pepper. Break off a piece big enough to feed the subs, then bring your knife to bear. I figure about two ¼” strips per sub, but your mileage may vary . . .

Onion? Well, yeah! I like paper thin strings of Red (Bermuda) onion, but you can slice, dice, chop or chunk, white, yellow, green, Vidalia, whatever. For my tastes, one thin slice (half round) of red is perfect for one sub.

The tomatoes should be halved and then gently squeezed to get rid of as much of the loose juice as possible. If you don’t ‘dry out’ the tomatoes, at least a little bit, your sub rolls will turn to soup. So squeeze them red things. And then chop them up into little cubes (1/4” or so). They need to be small enough that you can fit a goodly handful into each sub.

As for the olives, well, thin sliced rings, thin sliced strips, coarse chopped chunks, hey, stuff ‘em with anchovies and throw ‘em in whole if you like!

Now, chunk up your cheese sticks, roll up the Swiss, break the Mozz into half-slice strips, and get ready to assemble your creations.

First, lather a little condiment into the sub roll. I like mustard, Guldens or Poupon or maybe even a good Dusseldorf if there’s one around – just none of that yellow stuff Please! If you prefer, mayo is good or even a snappy spiced oil if that’s what you like. The major flavor of the sub is in the meats, cheeses and veggies. The condi is just an enhancement, a base on which to pile the other flavors, so use it, but sparingly.

To assemble the subs, I like to start with the ‘stick’ cheese in the bottom of the sub roll cavity. I always figure that some melted cheese in the bottom will glue the sub roll together and prevent it from falling apart through my fingers. On top of that cheese, spread the lettuce, then the meat rolls (one roast beef at the left end then a ham to reach the right end, then beef at the right end and a ham to reach the left end – let ‘em pile up in the middle!). Top the meat with the green peppers, the tomatoes, and the onions. Next, add the rolled up Swiss, then the olives, and a few shakes of celery seeds. Finally, lay the strips of Mozzarella (at least two, three if you like) diagonally across the top of the whole sub.

Now stick that sheet in the oven for 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, toss all the leftover salad stuff into a bowl (and call it a salad!), burn up a batch of French Fries and prepare to pig out!

Not exactly rocket science, or Escoffier either for that matter, but they sure taste good . . .

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