Often my mind will wander to a food memory from my travels. Recently, I was thinking about the Philly Italian roast pork sandwich from Dinic’s in the Reading Terminal Market. This is a truly legendary sandwich. I wish I could drive down to Philadelphia to get one. But given the current state of travel, it’s not worth the risk. In normal times, it would be worth the drive from Boston though (especially with an Amish pretzel sidecar.)
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Recreating the Philly Roast Pork Sandwich
As I was contemplating this recipe, I knew I could never get my pork sliced as thin as Dinic’s without a pro-level meat slicer. So, I gave my roast pork sandwich recipe a twist. Instead of a sliceable roast pork, I chose to slow cook a pork shoulder to create a pulled pork style meat. I still seasoned my pork roast with lots of fresh herbs and garlic to mimic the flavors of the Philly roast pork sandwich.
Sean and I also don’t love broccoli rabe which is the traditional Italian roast pork sandwich topping. We made our version with roasted green peppers, instead. Finally, I added a dressing of equal parts stone ground mustard and mayonnaise to add an acidic and balance out the rich roast pork.
I used a 3 pound boneless pork shoulder roast that had a bit of fat. The fat melted into the meat during cooking taking along the herb and garlic flavors with it.
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Time: The Secret Ingredient to This Roast Pork
This recipe isn’t difficult but it’s a project you should take on when you have a long time to hang out at home. There are only a few small, easy tasks between you and this sandwich, but the pork shoulder needs plenty of time to cook at a low temperature. You must wait until the pork reaches 200F degrees. This will ensure that the meat is tender and able to be pulled easily. This is the temperature that all of the gelatin and connective tissue breaks down creating a super tender, pull-able texture.
My pork roast took about 4 hours to hit 200F degrees, but time is irrelevant. Use a thermometer to ensure you hit the right temperature before pulling it out of the oven.
This roast pork recipe is great even if you don’t want it in an sandwich. Serve it as your main meat entrée with your favorite side dishes, and you’ll still be a very happy diner. I imagine leftovers would taste excellent in a breakfast hash, too!
Roast Pork Sandwich
- 3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast/pork butt roast
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped fine
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped fine
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano chopped fine
- 2 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 lemon zested
- ½ tbsp kosher salt
- ½ tbsp black pepper freshly ground, if possible
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Roasted Green Peppers
- 3 large green bell peppers
- ½ tbsp olive oil
Bread & Garnish
- 3 tbsp stone ground mustard
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 6 slices sharp provolone cheese about 6 ounces
- 6 sub rolls a soft, sesame roll is my favorite
- In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Stir until mixed well. Then rub the pork roast evenly with the mixture. Use it all!Place the pork in a sealed container or zip top bag for at least 4 hours; over night is best. Before roasting, take the pork roast out of the refrigerator for about an hour to warm it to room temperature. This will help start the cooking process quicker once it does hit the oven.
- Before the pork goes into the oven, roast your peppers. Place the green peppers on a sheet pan with a lip. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in the top rack of a broiler set to high. Let the peppers cook under the broiler for several minutes on each side. Turn the peppers with tongs as they char to ensure all sides are roasted. This should take about 10-15 minutes.Once the peppers are charred on all sides, remove from the broiler. Place the peppers into a glass bowl and cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap. Let cool.
- Once the peppers are roasted, turn your oven down to 275F degrees. Put the pork roast in a roasting pan or Dutch oven. Place in the oven, uncovered. Roast until the temperature reads 200F degrees with an instant read thermometer. This will take several hours.
- Once the peppers are cooled, remove peel the skin off of them. This should peel easily. Also remove the stem and seeds. Cut into large slices.
- In a small bowl, mix together the stone ground mustard and the mayonnaise.
- When the pork reaches 200F degrees, remove from the oven. Let it rest for 20 minutes. Then using two large forks, pull the pork into bite sized pieces.
- Cut rolls in half. Spread dressing on each side of bread. On the bottom half of the roll, place about half of a sliced roasted bell pepper. Spread a hearty helping of pulled pork on top of the roasted pepper. I personally like adding a few of the fattier pieces to my sandwich because those bits add a ton of great flavor. Add sliced provolone to the top of the pork. If you want your cheese melted, pop the sandwich (without the top half of the bread) under the broiler for about a minute.
- It’s really important to cook the pork until 200F degrees so that it is tender and pulls easily. Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature every half hour or so once the roast has been cooking for 3 hours.
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