Subs, hoagies, grinders – that’s fine but in New York, it’s a hero. Sandwiches Italian-Style doesn’t necessarily mean 8 different kinds of meat and cheese and a bunch of other things, where each flavor cancels out the next. It shouldn’t be that complicated.
For a good Italian-Style sandwich the most important thing is the bread. On the right bread, cream cheese and Welch’s grape jelly can be something special. Then comes basic but high-quality ingredients. After that, the main condiments are simply salt, pepper and maybe a few drops of olive oil. Here are a few standards.
Sausage & Peppers – Fry some bell peppers and an onion. Then fry the sausage in the same pan. Simple
Tuna with Lemon and Onion – Use imported tuna packed in olive oil, add some thinly sliced lemon (with skin) and onion. A little romaine if you like.
Ricotta on a Roll – Scrape some of the bread out of the top of the roll to make room for the ricotta so it doesn’t squeeze out.
Mootz & Tomato – Fresh cold mozzarella with sliced tomatoes and basil if you have it.
Escarole – Add just washed and still wet escarole leaves to a pan where you’ve sautéed some garlic in oil. Simmer until it wilts. It’s as easy as that.
Note that only one of these sandwiches contains meat, another fish and the last three are vegetarian. That says something about the Mediterranean Diet.
Eggs Two Ways – I hope you weren’t expecting scrambled and fried.
Eggs in Purgatory
This one is fairly simple. Start with left-over tomato sauce, the thicker the better. Pre-heat the over to 400 degrees. Heat the sauce in a frying pan large enough to hold as many eggs as you want to cook. Use the back of a spoon to make indentations in the sauce and break the eggs into the indentations. 10-12 minutes in the oven and it’s done. Sprinkle a little cheese and serve.
Potato and Egg Frittata
A classic meatless Friday lunch. It’s good with a little ketchup.
Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high and add the thickly sliced potatoes, salt and black pepper. After they cook for about 8-10 minutes add the onion. After the onion softens, with the edge of a metal spatula, chop and blend the potatoes and onions making an even mixture. Cook until the potatoes are tender and what you have looks like home fries.
In the meantime beat the eggs with the milk, parsley and salt and black pepper. Add the egg mixture to the pan, mix thoroughly with the potatoes and onions then spread it out to an even layer. Lower the heat and allow it to set for about 5 minutes. The top of the mixture will still be wet so place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes, watching closely so it doesn’t burn. Remove it when the top is lightly browned.
The omelet can be served in the pan, hot or at room temperature. Slice as you would a pie.
This is a round whole wheat loaf, baked, cut in half, then baked again. It’s thin, very dry, crisp and crumbly. It’s about 6 or 7 inches across. You can get them in a good bakery in Bensonhurst in Brooklyn or on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx.
Dip it in, or hold it under running hot water to soften it a little. Shake off excess water. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried oregano and drizzle with oil. You can stop right there and eat it as is or you can add:
sun dried or fresh tomatoes,
shavings or provolone or parmigiana,
red pepper flakes,
etc. (you get the idea)
Serve it with a knife and fork like any open face sandwich. I’d be very surprised to ever see this on a restaurant menu.
Taken verbatim from the 1861 Book of Household Management, by Isabella Beeton, Chapter XXXIII. Milk, Butter, Cheese and Eggs. I followed the “Mode” exactly, whisking over low heat until it thickened. The flavor was reminiscent of eggs Benedict. My father’s version of Scotch Woodcock is scrambling eggs with anchovies and milk, frying in butter and serving it on toast (see below). He said Scotch Woodcock was a late night snack that used to be served at bars in the 1930s and 40s along with Welch Rarebit.
My father’s recipe:
Sauté five or six chopped anchovies in four pats of butter and then add 1/4 cup of milk. Let it rest off the heat for about five minutes. Reheat, add four scrambled eggs and cook until done. Serve it on toast, salt and pepper.
A tuna and lemon sandwich was one of my Uncle Charlie’s standard late night snacks.
1 can or jar of imported tuna packed in olive oil
1 fresh lemon
1 small red onion
A sprinkle of olive oil (infused with chilies if you have it)
Salt and black pepper
Crunchy seeded Italian bread
Drain the tuna and arrange it on the bread. Add thinly sliced red onion and thinly sliced lemon (include skin). You’ll need a very sharp knife for this. Sprinkle with plain or chili infused olive oil, salt and black pepper Add some Romaine if you like. This combination really works.