Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The secret to making a spectacular Italian hoagie sandwich


One of our favorite spots to visit when we’re in Florida is Carmine’s Gourmet Market in Palm Beach Gardens. We like to dine outside for lunch on their patio and listen to Dean Martin crooning Arrivederci Roma and other Italian favorites while we admire the gorgeous yachts in the marina. Without fail we always order our favorite sandwich from their extensive menu – The Carmine. It’s a cold Italian hoagie with ham, Genoa salami, capicolla, pepperoni, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and red onion, dressed with plenty of olive oil and vinegar.



Perhaps you’ll remember when we were there last winter and I posted a tour of their fabulous deli and fresh market.


I’ve tried many times to duplicate Carmine’s hoagie at home and, while it’s always good, it just never quite measures up the original.

I racked my brain trying to think of what made their sandwich so special. Carmine’s always mades their hoagies to order. They would never prepare it in advance and allow it to sit on the counter or in a case. That’s one trick that’s easily mastered.

Then I tackled the ingredients. Obviously I would only buy the best and freshest ingredients I could find. A sandwich is only as good as the bread it’s made on, so I tried all sorts of breads - Italian bread, a French baguette, hoagie rolls, you name it, I’ve tried it, looking for a crisp crust and soft interior crumbs. I asked my deli to slice their very best cold cuts (never, ever use that pre-sliced stuff in a package). I sought out the freshest, juiciest vine ripe tomatoes and seasoned them generously with good sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I carefully shredded romaine lettuce. I never even once considered buying a bottled Italian dressing. I made my own oil and vinegar dressing by mixing together three parts extra virgin olive oil to two parts vinegar (we like this sandwich with that extra zing of vinegar) and seasoned it with Italian herbs. I spooned the vinaigrette over both sides of the bread. In short I did everything I could think of to make it perfect.

My sandwich was very good, even bordering on great, but something was missing to put it over the top and make it spectacular. The only problem was - I couldn’t put my finger on what that “something” was.

Finally I stumbled across the secret to how to make a spectacular hoagie and it just happens to come from another Carmine - the one who has a very successful Italian restaurant in Times Square in New York City. In Carmine’s Family Style Cookbook they shared their secret of how to make a spectacular hoagie.


The secret to a spectacular Italian hoagie is so simple that it’ll make you want to slap yourself on your forehead like a silly Italian cartoon character. Slice the ingredients paper thin. That’s the secret – slice the ingredients paper thin. Never overload the sandwich they say or it will make it overflow and be hard to eat. As Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, would say, “How easy is that?”

This will be linked to Food on Friday at Carol's Chatter. 

46 comments:

  1. Ooo how yummy is that! That's what I enjoy most about Florida living, once the summer heat leaves and we can enjoy the outdoors the rest of the year! Sitting out on the decks and lanais while we eat.

    We always get our meat sliced paper thin so we would of been one step up! :D How easy is that? ;D Glad you figured it out, now I have to go there and try the sandwich in person!

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  2. Now my mouth is watering for a hoagie! That looks delicious.
    Hugs,
    Penny

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  3. Sam,
    That is one great looking sandwich! Reminds me of a good ole Po-Boy from my New Orleans roots!

    Your culinary travels are inspiring and now wanting me to leave the desk and hit the road!

    Bon appetit!
    CCR
    =:~)

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  4. I can almost taste that hoagie in the picture! I love them. Italian food is my favorite and I absolutely love Italian food stores. I could spend hours in that store in the picture.

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  5. Sam- I have the Carmine's cookbook too and have also made their Italian hoagie. We loved it, along with everything else from the book.

    Yours looks terrific and is making me crave them again!

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  6. That definitely looks like the best hoagie I've ever seen! Thanks for sharing your secret, I'll definitely be making that!

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  7. A mouthwatering sandwich! A great tip...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  8. Sam - Your sandwich looks outstanding and I agree with your secret. I believe you also included what I consider to be the other secret - a good oil and vinegar dressing.

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  9. Sam, you're torturing me here. I love a perfect hoagie. When I was a teenager, there was a place in Fort Lauderdale that made perfect hoagies. It was La Rosa. We won't talk about how many years have passed, but I can still taste that perfection.

    I'll be right over.

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  10. The best I can do around here is FireHouse subs. The hoagie in the bottom picture just makes me drool. Lovely photos.

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  11. terrific... I think I shorted out my computer with the drool

    GREAT post!

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  12. I get weak the knees when I see that deli. Of course someone named Carmine could make a grand sandwich. I figured out the thinly sliced ingredients this summer. Only took me 30 years! And that hoagie looks mighty fine indeed!

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  13. I want to go there! What a place, I'm on sensory overload, I just looked at your former post on Carmines!

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  14. I remember your previous post on Carmine's. Now I really want to drive across the state and stop there. Looks good!!!

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  15. Sam...I'm not surprised. Don't all great treats come from an Italian kitchen? LOL

    Great sandwich...I need to pace myself because this is way too tempting ;o)

    Ciao for now and have a great week,
    Claudia

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  16. What a spectacular looking market! The sandwich looks great too :) Glad to hear someone besides me ups the ratio of vinegar to oil in their dressing - particularly for this use, I like the zing!

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  17. Fabulous sandwich ~ it's amzaing the wonderful taste sensations we experience from a different selection of deli goods. This one looks divine!.. and the market a mish~mash of everything I love.
    ~Dianne~

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  18. I'm smiling, Sam, 'cause I've been there and you are exactly right!! Carmine's rocks.
    But as far as I'm concerned, your hoagie is just as good if not better...it looks luscious. I'd give anything to have the making in my fridge right now. (And I haven't had breakfast yet...)

    Kudos for figuring it out for us!

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  19. Great sandwich. Love Carmine's. Couldn't stop giggling about the Ina comment :D

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  20. In May we spent 6 wks in WPB. I wish I knew about this place. Next time I will make sure I go. Thanks and have a great day.

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  21. My mouth is watering! I love the classic Italian Hogie and I have had my share having grown up right outside of Philadelphia in NJ. You're right...the BREAD has to be perfect! Love this post, it speaks to my heart!

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  22. The secret to most food preparation is so simple that the human mind tries to complicate it. Great ingredients, execution, and care...just give a crap. Many many restaruants are inhabited by cooks who just do not care enough.

    Not allowing food to sit around is key too for sure.

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  23. What a fantastic post! Being a foodie I devoured every word you wrote.
    I close my eyes and can just imagine sitting there listening to Dean. Your Hoagie is spectacular. Thank you for sharing the secret and for those lovely picures.

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  24. Good advice Sam. I'll remember that when I make a hoagie. Love places like Carmine's.

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  25. What a lovely gourmet market...just makes you feel like packing a basket with goodies!and a delicious hoagie is staring back at me...!
    Ronelle x

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  26. Do you deliver? These would be hard to put down.

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  27. The next time I'm in that area, I know where I'm going for lunch! Love Dean Martin also!

    Mary

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  28. Your sandwich looks so good Sam! In NYC we call them "Heroes" and not hoagies :)

    I always get my cold cuts sliced thin except for liverwurst..I like that a little thicker.

    I've eaten at Carmines in Time Square ...very good southern Italian food! Sadly the Carmines Restaurant in lower Manhattan near South Street Seaport closed this summer.

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  29. Absolutely a good oil and vinegar, and perhaps a sprinkle or oregano.

    Your photo most definitely has me drooling! And here we are stuck on the west coast of Canada for Thanksgiving (Monday_ where they wouldn't know a hoagie if they tripped over one... and then on our way home to Hope Town. And what are the odds of getting a hoagie there!?

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  30. Oh yum! And what a place to visit!! I've enjoyed looking through your blog via Penny. Now my tummy is calling out to me after looking at all of this wonderful food!!

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  31. You take the best food pictures, Sam. It makes everyone hungry and wishing to eat your specialties. After reading your earlier post on Carmine we visited it when we were in West Palm Beach last February. Now we are getting ready to fly to New York City pretty soon and I did not know that there was a Carmine there too. I looked it up on Google and they have one about 10 blocks from where we’ll be staying in the Upper West Side. So I can see now that we’ll visit that Carmine too and sample they hoagies or heroes - whatever they wish to call them. Thanks for the tip.

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  32. I'm so there! I never make hoagies and cannot resist when I see a good one on a menu. These look amazing.

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  33. These look wonderful - your site is incredible!!! Many thank yous to Penny @ Lake Lure Kitchen Cottage for leading me to another amazing resource.
    I can't wait to get the explore more this afternoon after work!

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  34. I want to bite into the last picture on this post. Also loving the salmon cakes with wasabi. Beautiful pictures.

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  35. That looks superb, Sam! The layers of thin slices mean more than the same amounts cut into thick slices. I think it's something about the texture. You are on to something here that I'm going to have to try.

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  36. Carmines looks like a WONderful place. I could browse for hours. Thanks for the "thin slice" tip. It looks like you may have carved out some of the bread for the ingredients to fit so beautifully? Great photos Sam.

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  37. Thin slices paving the way to Heaven in a sandwich makes complete sense, now to make one of these super delicious sandwiches;)

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  38. Sam absolutey lovely and yummy post! xgloria

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  39. I grew up eating a lot of hoagies. Growing up in South Florida, there was plenty of variety. You know, the best ones were with meats that were sliced paper thin. I never thought about it, till I read your post.

    Cheers to the hoagie!

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  40. I love it when you find a secret that is accessible to everyone. I've never been to Carmine's and now I will have to pay a visit to see what I am missing.

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  41. Wow, would I love to have time to shop in that deli and market! It makes sense that slicing the ingredients paper thin makes a better sandwich. I love a good sandwich and one of your hoagies would fill the bill. Just scrumptious, Sam.

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  42. Yum! These are my husband's absolute favorite!

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  43. Your search for the perfect hoagie made me smile, grazie mille! :-)


    I tried unsuccessfully to educate the sales people behind the deli counter at Sutton Place Gourmet in DC to cut my order of Italian salumi paper thin. Somehow they either turned out too thick or bits and pieces of thin slices. Another catastrophe was the Hungarian Pick salami. It even has a diagonal line on the casing, to guide the knife to make a diagonal cut and then slice it into thin ovals with the slicer. Even when I convinced them to cut the salami in half diagonally, they then would simply slice of as many little pieces as necessary to get back to the smaller rounds. Once a salesperson, exasperated by my instructions and the inability of her fellow sales clerk to understand them, took it into her own hands and went backstage, promising to do it right. Well, would you believe that she returned with a whole pound of (expensive!) Pick salami beautifully sliced on the diagonal, but about a quarter inch thick? It was my turn to be exasperated, and I simply thanked her for trying, took the whole mess and paid it. Just glad to get out the door! It's one of the luxuries here in Vienna that one does not have to worry about cold cuts not being sliced correctly. They slice it perfectly everywhere! :-)

    (and on the diagon

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  44. My 100% Sicilian hubby sprinkles his hoagie with crushed red pepper flakes and always pulls bread dough out of the middle, making more room for the hoagie ingredients. He always drives the deli people crazy asking for paper thin lunchmeat. It wasn't a problem in Trenton,NJ, where he's from,but in the South they seem to like their cold-cuts thick--ugh! The meats that go into the hoagie make all the difference too.

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Sam