Nizza on the Stovetop
Our hometown has a huge food history, and most of it lies between two slices of bread. Philadelphians are in love with sandwiches, testimony to the city’s blue-collar heritage—it makes sense that the unofficial “Sandwich Capitol of America” was once referred to as “The Workshop of the World.” Even today, John’s Roast Pork, a sandwich trailer situated near the piers, continues to keep workingman hours with the grill operating only from about 6:45 am until 2:30 pm. Our famous hoagie was originally called the “hoggie,” named after the sandwich eaten on the job by the Italian immigrant workers who labored in the Hog Island iron and steel building shipyards (the world’s largest during WWI).
What we love most about Philadelphia sandwiches is their topping of pickled Italian long hot peppers (a thin-walled variety about 8 inches long and ¾ inch wide) that we reworked into a South American chimichurri sauce. This recipe makes more than is needed for a single sandwich (even when it’s on a whole baguette). But you may be surprised at how many other dishes it ends up being spooned over—anything grilled, from steaks and vegetables, to chicken paillard and swordfish. You can also use it to dress sliced fresh tomatoes or bean salad. It’s good stuff to have around.
This savory sauce is best made well ahead of schedule but kept in two parts: the macerating vinegar and onions mix, and the infusing olive oil and herbs mix. Combine them just before serving to keep the herbs from dulling in the vinegar so they remain a vibrant green. When mixed and pulled directly out of the fridge, the olive oil may solidify, so let it warm up to room temperature before stirring to reincorporate.
Mix Number One
Combine and set aside at room temperature to macerate for about an hour before serving.
2 cups finely chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, peeled smashed and finely chopped
1 cup roughly chopped long hots (3 medium-sized peppers)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 cup distilled white vinegar
Mix Number Two
Combine and hold separately until ready to use the sauce. Then pour over onion mix and stir to incorporate.
1/2 bunch Italian parsley (3/4 cup chopped)
1/2 bunch cilantro (3/4 cup chopped)
1/2 bunch oregano, picked leaves and chopped (1/4 cup)
2 cups olive oil