How to Make the Perfect Italian Sub Sandwich

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Ah, the Italian Sub: fatty, tangy, and oh-so enjoyable.

And so conveniently impersonated!

There’s just nothing more disappointing than going in to a deli with cured meat hanging from the rafters and huge wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano resting behind the counter, ordering an Italian Sub, and having it fall absolutely flat on its face.

No tang, no spice, no… oomph. The bread sticks to the roof of your mouth, the oil falls from the back of the sandwich, and every bite pulls back out an entire slice of meat.

It’s a real culinary travesty is what it is.

So instead of doling out ten bucks and risking this heart-breaking disappointment, why not just learn to make a genuine Italian Sub in your own kitchen?

It’s easy, affordable, and you won’t have to wait in line.

The Bread

Just as much as a balance of flavors, the Italian Sub is a balance of textures. That said, any eight- or nine-inch loaf of white bread with a crispy, flaky crust is ideal.

You want to grab the bread and give it a little squeeze; if the surface cracks, that’s the keeper.

Those soft hoagie rolls your deli’s trying to pawn off on you? Save those for panzanellas, bread pudding, and homemade breadcrumbs.

The Salad

While every other sandwich in the world starts with good bread, the perfect Italian Sub starts with a good Italian summer salad or any season really..

Since this sandwich is all about balance and the rest of the ingredients have a creamy and fatty mouth feel, it is important that your salad be sharp enough to cut through all that richness.

Chop some Romaine lettuce and dice some tomatoes; mince some raw onion and garlic, and toss them together.

The Salad Soak

You will want to have a lot more dressing than a normal salad; you’re marinating – pickling, actually – so think of the dressing in this regard.

Make a quick vinaigrette using olive oil, white vinegar, salt and pepper, and load it up with herbs, both dried and fresh.

Add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes, and pour over the chopped vegetables.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, giving the vegetables a chance to absorb all that briny goodness. (Careful not to over-marinate; too long, and the lettuce will lose its crunch.)

The Cheese

Provolone. No exceptions.

The Meats

This is when your home meat slicer can finally be put to good use.

Choose a spicy Italian meat like capicola or sopressata, and combine it with a good, fatty Genoa salami, some slightly salty quality prosciutto, and some creamy mortadella.

Though balance is key, don’t spend too much time worrying about it: use whatever amount of each your heart desires.

And stay away from plain ham. It’s too watery, and contributes nothing but overall disappointment to the sandwich.

The Building

Press your butterflied crusty loaf down onto your work surface, and brush both sides with just a little olive oil. Drain the salad to rid it of any excess moisture.

While that drains, layer the meats on one half, and top with the Provolone. When the salad looks light enough, put a good layer over the cheese, and fold the bread over to complete.

Served with chips or even by itself, you’ll find the sandwich you make after following these simple steps to rival anything you’d find in New York, Chicago, or even Rome.

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