Living 3,000 miles away from home can be hard on your heart. Not to mention your stomach. Do you ever crave something that you can only get in one place? In my case, I miss the Italian Sub from the White House Sub Shop on Arctic Avenue in Atlantic City. In New Jersey subs are a way of life. There is something about the combination of Italian meats, Provolone cheese, Jersey tomatoes, onions, oregano, oil and vinegar, and the bread. Oh, the bread. You cannot get bread like this anywhere else in the world.
But that does not mean that you cannot appease your craving. And this little baby is just that. This deconstructed Italian Sub is a far enough departure from the real thing that you get the flavors that you crave without being disappointed.
I went to my neighborhood grocery store and looked around for the ingredients I needed to make this dip. I asked the man at the deli counter for Capicola and he looked at me with a puzzled look on his face. Okay, imported ham it is. I searched high and low for hot pepper spread. Nowhere to be found. I found a jar of hot cherry peppers and heard Tim Gunn's voice in my head. "Make it work". I went home and put the cherry peppers in the food processor and it looked, tasted, and smelled like a New Jersey sub shop. I chopped my meats and cheeses and my mouth started to water. Thankfully, my husband was not home while I was making this, because if he could smell Italian Sub on me I very well might have ended up with another baby. It smells that good.
There is no way that I could ever make or find a bread like the bread that an Italian Sub comes on so I had to come up with something different. I love this focaccia recipe because I have made it a hundred times and a hundred times it has been delicious. It is a foolproof bread recipe. If you are scared of breadmaking, this is a great recipe to start with. I keep this focaccia very basic because I do not want it to compete with the dip, but you could do a million things with this recipe.
This is a favorite snack in our house because it is easy to make, tastes even better the next day, and reminds me so much of home. It is comforting and feels like a mother's hug. One of the reasons that I think this dip is so delicious is that every component gets a chance to shine. It is perfect to make and eat in the afternoon while watching a football game with a cold beer or to serve at a summer barbeque. I will admit, it is not the prettiest appetizer that I have ever served my guests, but it is by far the most requested.
Italian Sub Dip with Homemade Focaccia
1/4 pound Capicola or imported ham (sliced thick)
1/4 pound Genoa Salami (sliced thick)
1/4 pound pepperoni (sliced thick)
1/2 pound Provolone cheese (sliced thick)
2 medium tomatoes or 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup shredded Iceberg lettuce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons hot pepper spread
1 tablespoon oregano
Cube the meats and cheese into small cubes. Put it in a bowl and add the chopped tomatoes, and onions. Add in the hot pepper spread and oregano. Season well with salt and pepper. Combine well and chill. Let the flavors combine for an hour or overnight. ight before you are going to serve, toss in the Iceberg lettuce. Serve with toasted bread.
2 teaspoons rapid rising yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
In the bowl of a stand mixer proof the yeast with the sugar and warm water. Let stand 3 minutes until foamy. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour. Dissolve the salt in 2 tablespoons of warm water and add this to the bowl. Pour in the olive oil. When the dough starts to come together turn the mixer to medium and mix until smooth, about 10 minutes. Periodically, stop the machine and pull the dough off. The dough should be elastic and smooth. Place the dough in a bowl coated with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour. Lightly coat a baking sheet with oil. Roll out into desired shape. Place on sheet and let sit for 15 minutes. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Thank you for sharing, Bree!
(Images: Bree Hester)