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Oct 27, 2010 10:00 PM

Help me recreate Philadelphia Roast Pork Sandwich

DISCLAIMER: I'm posting on the Philly board because I want input from the people who understand and appreciate the true sandwich that represents our city.

I have a good idea of the basic ingredients I want to use, but just wanted to pass it by you guys to see if I could get any more pointers. Although it goes by a common name, I feel like the roast pork sandwich has many iterations that arise from the diversity of both cooking technique and ingredients. This is my self-concocted recipe going by the flavors and textures I get from a roast pork sandwich.

Cut of meat: pork shoulder (bone in), skin removed leaving fat around the periphery

Marinate overnight: salt, black pepper, onion, olive oil, rosemary (fennel seed? celery? carrot?)

Cooking: slow oven roast inside dutch oven (lid on) above a roasting rack placed inside
(not sure if this is a dry roast or a braise +chicken broth?). From the accounts of others I have heard that the pork shoulder should release enough liquid on its own. The Tony Luke's recipe I found online mentioned specifically that the meat never cooks inside it's own juice. Not sure if this contradicts George's or DiNic's. A dry roast pork would be the worst thing possible. Once cooked thoroughly meat should hopefully be fork tender and I will break down the meat into slices/chunks. Based on what I heard, DiNic's soaks the meat in the roasting broth overnight and then it's ready to serve the following day.

Bread: Amoroso's

As for condiments, I'm going for a roasted hot pepper, provolone as my personal preference. Rabe would be ideal, but I'll save it for another day.

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  1. If doing for yourself, try a boston butt instead of shoulder. It is the segment of meat just north of the shoulder. More fat and gelatin, it is also more difficult to get meat off of, not slicing really but more pulling, for me the fav part of pig. Huge part is the provolone, get as aged as you can find.
    The large torpedo shapes may look the same but are quite varied in their aging, taste first to get what you want. Bread is an entire different category.

    1. You definitely need fennel seed and garlic. For me, it's not a Philly roast pork without them. My mom (an Italian cook who learned from her off-the-boat grandmother) uses it, and also uses soy sauce(! definitely not traditional) on her pork, along with it's juices, after it's been shredded. She spices hers up and roasts it, covered in foil until it falls apart.

      Holy cow, now I want roast pork.

      1. Here's what I do at my restaurant: I take a boneless Boston Butt and butterfly it. In a food processor, I put two bunches parsley, ten cloves garlic, two sprigs rosemary, and two sprigs thyme. WIth the food processor running, I pour in about 1 - 1 1/2 lbs. kosher salt, to make what we call "green salt" (this stuff is great for curing, too -- use it on duck confit and pork belly). So... rub the green salt all over the butterflied pork butt. Then, roll the butt up and tie it in to a roast... Rub more salt on the outside. Put on top of a baking sheet with a roasting rack in it to allow juices to drip off. Place in a 275 oven for about two to three hours, until the internal temp is about 140. Let rest, then refrigerate overnight. The next day, we slice it on a deli slicer very, very thin. I take the trim from the butt left on the slicer and simmer it in chicken stock to make the pork jus, as well as pouring in the pan drippings (strain prior to use). When you are ready to use it, take a handful of the sliced pork and place in the jus (which should be warm but not very hot (pork can overcook in jus). Allow pork to warm through and place on bread. We take blanched broccoli rabe and cook it down VERY slowly with garlic, shallot, and chili flake in extra virgin in a covered sauce pan. It basically disintegrates and turns dark green -- becomes spreadable. Basically, I tell my cooks that I totally disregard everything I was taught about green veg cookery at CIA for this rabe.
        I live near the RTM and frequent DiNic's. I can assure you that with the right bread and condiments, a sandwich prepared in this method will absolutely rival DiNic's or Tony Luke's.

        Also, regarding "Marinate overnight: salt, black pepper, onion, olive oil, rosemary (fennel seed? celery? carrot?)". You can marinate overnight in all of the above, but I would definitely not salt it until just prior to cooking. If you do salt it the night before, you will cure the cut of meat and draw out all of the moisture. This will definitely not result in a juicy final product. Good luck.

        Tony Luke's
        625 Highway 33, Trenton, NJ 08619

        5 Replies
        1. re: BewilderedLineCook

          It is so nice of you to give these detailed instructions!
          I will print them out and give them to my husband, who's the really good cook around here.
          Sounds wonderful.

          1. re: BewilderedLineCook

            Sounds awesome. Where is your restaurant? I want to get in line for a sandwich. I made Pulled Pork only once and it turned out very well. I just used a simple Slow Cook recipe I found and made it in a crock pot, but your recipe sounds wonderful. We also buy party trays of Pulled Pork at Blooming Glen Catering in Perkasie. They have a few different varieties - with and without sauce. If you want to get sauce to serve with your sandwiches, I would recommend their Carolina style BBQ sauce. As far as rolls, I would recommend Conshy bakery. They are on Jones St just off Hector in Conshy. For parties, I have also used the small football rolls from Altomonte's in Doylestown or Warminster. BTW - I have not eaten breakfast yet and reading these posts is making me very hungry.

            1. re: curly girl

              I'm the chef at the Happy Rooster in Center City. We serve this version of the roast pork sandwich on our lunch menu with provlone (not as sharp as I'd like -- my purveyor doesn't have really sharp prov. and DiBruno's is too expensive) on Metropolitan baguette. It's also not (IMO) the ideal bread, but due to budgetary issues and delivery schedules, it is hard to get another bread vendor in here...

            2. re: BewilderedLineCook

              I opened this thread because I was intrigued with the title and interested in the responses AJSoprano would receive. Reading your reply was worth every minute. Many thanks for the green salt recipe and especially your spreadble rappe. That's a joy by itself..!

              1. re: BewilderedLineCook

                Thanks for the recipe. What size of Boston Butt do you use for this?

              2. Amoroso's is the wrong roll for this; it is way too soft and will dissolve with all the juices. You need something with a hard crust and maybe sesame seeds. I don't know where you are located but Sarcone's, Crangi's and Liscio's are all good choices. In the 'burbs I think Consohocken Bakery should have something good.

                1. I've done a butt with just a rub of the flavors you mentioned (although I include some garlic) and tossed the whole thing in my slow cooker on low , with maybe just a little stock to get things going. It's very similar to the Italian pulled pork at Dinic's - my personal favorite.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: malkazanie

                    An old Italian lady I once knew always added hot pepper flakes, and also poultry seasoning (primarily the sage comes through.) She braised in water, but I use chicken stock.

                    I use a weed burner (but you could use a propane torch) afterward on the grill outside after patting the outside of the roast dry. It gives a crackly crust that you can't get from braising alone because the moisture in the dutch oven is too high.

                    It may be cheating, but it sure gaves a new dimension to the flavors and mouthfeel.