Everyone knows the iconic sandwich of Philadelphia is the cheesesteak, but what if we told you the locals actually prefer another hometown favorite? Enter the roast pork sandwich. It's made with thinly sliced roast pork, provolone and broccoli rabe. If you've never had one of these classic sandwiches, try this recipe from Philly's High Street on Market. It's the perfect project to bring a taste of Philly to your kitchen, wherever you are.
This local secret is also perfect to serve at your next party, because you should ideally cook the pork in advance; it's better the next day. Lightly curing the pork makes it firmer, so you can slice it super thin when it's cool—without a deli slicer (which we certainly don't have). You can even cook the broccoli rabe in advance, too, so all you have to do is toast your bread and assemble.
To learn more, read "Pig Out."
Roast Pork and Broccoli Rabe Sandwich
Recipe adapted from Eli Kulp, High Street on Market, Philadelphia, PA
Yield: 4 sandwiches
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus overnight curing and cooling time
Cook Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, plus overnight curing and cooling time
For the Roast Pork:
One 3-pound pork butt roast
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons minced rosemary, divided
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic heads
2 tablespoons honey
For the Broccoli Rabe:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
1½ pounds broccoli rabe, woody ends trimmed and discarded, stems halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
For the Sandwich:
4 semolina hero rolls
8 ounces sliced provolone cheese
Pork roast, thinly sliced
1. Make the roast pork: Place the pork roast on a large rimmed plate or parchment-lined sheet pan. In a medium bowl, stir together the salt, sugar, 1 tablespoon of the rosemary, the thyme, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. Cover the pork roast with the curing mixture, and then wrap the whole thing in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
2. next day, preheat the oven to 450°. Rinse off the salt mixture from the pork and dry well with paper towels. Place the roast on a sheet pan fit with a wire rack. Wrap the garlic heads in foil and place them on the tray alongside the pork. Roast until the pork begins to get color, 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 275° and continue to cook until it has reached an internal temperature of 140°, 1 hour more. Remove the pork and garlic from the oven and let cool.
3. Return the oven to 450°. Unwrap the garlic, then slice each head in half and squeeze out the roasted cloves into a small bowl. Using a spoon, mash the garlic into a paste and mix with the remaining tablespoon of rosemary and the honey. Rub the mixture all over the pork roast and return it to the oven. Roast until the glaze has caramelized, 15 minutes, then remove and let cool completely before slicing thinly. Store on a parchment-lined sheet pan and cover with foil.
4. Make the broccoli rabe: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until the edges begin to turn golden, 1 minute, then add the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the broccoli rabe and sauté until vibrant green and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, then season with salt. Keep warm.
5. Assemble the sandwich: Preheat the oven to 450°. Slice the rolls in half lengthwise and lay them open on a sheet pan. Divide the sliced provolone between the 4 bottom halves of the bread. Bake until the cheese has melted and the bread is toasted, 5 minutes. While the bread toasts, warm the sheet pan of pork in the oven also.
6. Place the 4 bottom halves with melted cheese on a cutting board. Divide the sliced pork on top, followed by the broccoli rabe. Affix the top halves of the bread, then slice in half and serve.