Updated: Mar 15
I was going to kick off my first hoagieLOVE blog with the history of hoagies. As I began writing it, I realized that I don't want this to be viewed as a history blog - nope! This is a blog about my favorite food in the world - hoagies! So first, thank you and welcome to my first ever blog post. Why hoagies, you ask? Why not, I say. Especially during this heavy time when we could all use a pick me up.
I grew up in South Philly, in an all Italian neighborhood and I am 100% Italian myself. Well, not according to Ancestry, but we can save that for another post. I love a good cheesesteak, a killer soft pretzel and occasionally a pony-sized beer. But there is something so exciting about finding a place with a stellar hoagie or building one at home and waiting for the critics to weight in, typically my husband, Blake, and my daughter, Giada who is 10. My son, also Blake, only cares about mac and cheese, tacos and chicken nuggets -- he'll get there.
This is my favorite new jam. Yes, I am old and say "jam". I love using a french baguette. Yes, I just said french bread. For. My. Hoagies. I promise it's not a violation to Italian code. You'll believe me once you taste it. It's also an easy way to make a big a$$ hoagie for a larger group, and the bread is awesome. Most people believe that it's the bread that makes the hoagie. It's the Philly water that makes the bread incredible with its crusty exterior and soft interior.
I agree wholeheartedly but you can't forget about the quality of the rest of the ingredients. As you'll see, many times, I am just improvising, using what I have in my fridge. I have been known to throw together a killer cheese plate after saying, "I have nothing for us to eat". But like any good Italian, there is always an abundance of meats, cheese and bread to go around in my fridge. I also have my "attempt at a garden" to pull from to add to the goodness.
For this one, we were at our beach house in Villas, NJ where some of my usual ingredients were a little hard to find (or maybe I wasn't trying hard enough). So, I grabbed and cut a baguette, and because the bread is very dense, I like to scoop out some of the inside to make space for the goodness. I then add high quality extra virgin olive oil and mayo with salt, pepper and oregano. I prefer my hoagie with extra sharp provolone, but it's usually hard to find. Some Philly Italian delis will have it for slicing, but I usually just buy the extra sharp provolone block at Wegmans or Trader Joes. Of course, you can find it at DiBruno Brothers or at the Italian Market, but some of us moved to the burbs and have to improvise.
Hoagie Hack (HH - new term and acronym created here, people): Is anyone so into extra sharp cheese that you judge it by the firmness of the block? That's me. Squeezing the cheese. It's fine to cut thinner slices from the block. It adds to the homemade feel. In this case, I couldn't find it and I was pretty bent. but, I found a similar cheese, called Picante Provolone. It is Boar's Head and the package boasts a "strong, sharp flavor and firm texture". Confirmed the texture by feeling it up in the store, and can say that it tasted amazing! I then added Prosciutto, and would have added some Capicola, if I had it, but I didn't. Not today, Capicola, or Gabigool, if you are Italian.
No reason to panic. You can still kill it with one quality meat. And I said "quality meat" and I will be writing a blog soon that compares Prosciutto and other meats. Also, the deli might hate you for it, but ask for thin cut when you order meats and cheeses, it makes a huge difference. I then added lettuce, well arugula, from the garden. If you haven't tried a hoagie with arugula, now is the time. I then added a tomato from the garden and red onion which also added some additional flair to white onion. I cut the baguette into smaller pieces to share with others or make them think I'm sharing. What you'll end up with is crusty bread with this perfect mix of awesomeness - sharp cheese, salty prosciutto, then the lettuce, tomato and onion to finish it off.
I was planning to have one hoagie review under my belt by this time but my first attempt was an extreme fail. I'll tell you all about it eventually, but I am going to start fresh and cover one of my favorite hoagie places for my next post. It's Westside Market in West Cape May, NJ. I am heading back to the shore to celebrate my husband's birthday. He likes to celebrate all week long, and since we're all stuck at home with COVID-19, we can home school the kids while working full time from the shore house. At least we've got that going for us.