A Loaded Italian Hoagie Recipe Ready for Your Biggest Picnic (2023)

It’s not every day you see a giant hoagie — unless, of course, you’re Matt Cahn, whose Philadelphia sandwich shop Middle Child slings 3- and 6-foot hoagies off its catering menu day in and day out. When Middle Child makes hoagies, it tends to “go ham” on the filling, Cahn says. A giant hoagie roll can handle a lot, but let’s be real: As Cahn puts it, “These are supposed to be a little extravagant.”

Most home cooks aren’t going to be working on a scale quite so large; a 6-foot roll is hard to come by (unless you’ve got a bakery hookup, which Cahn does and keeps close to his chest), though a 3-footer might be more achievable. More likely, a really big hoagie at home means building on a big baguette, which is still a heck of a lot of sandwich. As such, some considerations are in order.

Take to heart the fact that not every sandwich on Middle Child’s menu is available extra-large. Given that giant sandwiches often sit for a while (say, at an event like a picnic), cold, layered, multi-component options (such as muffulettas, Italian subs, or turkey hoagies) often yield the best results. Spreads like mayo and oil will have ample time to absorb into the bread, without making the sandwich too wet. “A big, hot sandwich just doesn’t hold as well — it gets kind of soggy,” Cahn says.

In his opinion, a particularly good option for a giant hoagie is what his menu calls the So Long Sal!, which is filled with Italian meats and cheese. Arugula, red onion, artichoke relish, and a simple balsamic mayo round it out. “You want fat, you want acid, you want some greens for freshness,” Cahn says. His riff on an Italian sub checks all the boxes.

The general assembly rules for avoiding a soggy sandwich apply to large-format hoagies, of course. First, protect the bread. “You always want to have a mayo or a fat [like avocado] on the bread,” Cahn says, as it creates a barrier against any moist ingredients. The meat — a generous amount — goes on next. With giant rolls, “the bread is a lot taller, so it can take more ingredients,” Cahn notes. “Then put your wetter stuff toward the top so it doesn’t drip into the bread quite as much.” Instead of drizzling oil and vinegar over the whole sandwich, he opts for more even flavor distribution by dressing any greens as he would a salad in a separate bowl, then arranging them across the hoagie before topping it with the remaining bread.

To finish, wrap the sandwich in a layer of wax paper, followed by a layer of plastic wrap, and let everything marry. “Throw it in your backpack — be a little bit careful with it — and take it on a picnic,” Cahn says. “That’s how I love it.”

So Long Sal Giant Hoagie Recipe

By Matthew Cahn and Edwin De La Rosa of Middle Child and Middle Child Clubhouse

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Serves about 20


For the house dressing:

10 to 15 garlic cloves, depending on size, peeled, divided
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ cup fresh basil
¼ cup fresh parsley
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white sugar
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Black pepper
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
⅛ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons Calabrian chile
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1¼ cups Duke’s or Kewpie mayo

For the artichoke relish:

36 ounces, or about 3 cups, artichoke hearts marinated in oil, jarred or canned
2 to 3 lemons, depending on the size
8 teaspoons Calabrian chile
Dried Italian herbs, to taste

For the sandwich assembly:

1 3-foot hoagie, or 4 baguettes
3 cups artichoke relish
2 cups house dressing
¾ pound, or about 12 thin slices prosciutto cotto
¾ pound, or about 27 medium slices Genoa salami
½ pound, or about 12 medium slices sharp provolone
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 to 6 ounces arugula
1 small red onion, peeled
¼ pound fresh Parmesan
Black pepper, to taste

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Make the house dressing:

Step 1: The first big step is to confit some of the garlic. You can do this while you prepare the rest of the recipe; you’ve got about 20 minutes before it’s ready. Put about 8 cloves of garlic (this should be enough to fill ¼ cup) and about 1⅔ cups of olive oil into a small pot or saucepan. You want the garlic to be mostly submerged in the oil. Turn the flame to low heat, and let the garlic simmer for about 20 minutes. When finished, it should be a light golden brown and soft to the touch; it should give no resistance when pressed with a fork.

Step 2: Strain and reserve the confit garlic. You won’t need the leftover garlic oil for this recipe, but it’s a really great thing to keep around for other cooking uses. Set the garlic aside for now.

Step 3: The second big step is to make an herb “salsa verde.” You can do this on a cutting board with a knife, or you can do it in a mortar and pestle. Either way is cool! We like the cutting board method. Pick the basil and parsley. Place them on your cutting board, and give them a rough chop. Place a pinch of salt, a pinch of white sugar, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a few cracks of black pepper onto the herbs. Keep chopping until they’re at a fine mince and you don’t see or feel the salt and sugar anymore. Let it rest and move on.

Step 4: The third big step is to make the mayo base! Grab the food processor and add the remaining ⅓ cup of olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, Calabrian chile, and yellow mustard. Add 3 cloves of fresh garlic and all of the confit garlic. Blend until smooth.

Step 5: Add the mayo to the food processor, and continue blending.

Step 6: Scrape the contents of the food processor into a mixing bowl. Add the chopped herbs from the cutting board to the mayo mixture. Whisk until evenly incorporated. Set aside.

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Make the artichoke relish:

Step 1: Open and drain the artichoke hearts. If using oil-marinated hearts, save the liquid. If using artichoke hearts in water, discard the liquid. You should be left with about enough artichoke hearts to fill 3 cups when drained and packed tightly. Put them into a food processor.

Step 2: Zest the lemons until you have 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Juice the lemons until you get ⅓ cup of lemon juice. Add both to the food processor.

Step 3: Add the Calabrian chile to the food processor.

Step 4: Put 3 tablespoons of the reserved oil from the artichoke hearts into the food processor. Or if you used artichokes canned in water, add a glug of good olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a couple of shakes of whatever dried Italian herbs you have on hand to the food processor along with the artichokes.

Step 5: Pulse the food processor until you have a spreadable relish. It shouldn’t be a paste, but you should still be able to spread it easily.

Assemble the sandwich:

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Step 1: Cut the hoagie or baguettes in half.

Step 2: Evenly spread all of the artichoke relish on the top half of the bread.

Step 3: Evenly spread all of the house dressing on the top and bottom half of the bread.

Step 4: Evenly spread and stack the ham, salami, and provolone on the bottom half of the bread. We like to crumble up the ham a little bit so it gets a lot of height and some nice nooks and crannies.

Step 5: In a bowl, lightly whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard as if you’re making a vinaigrette.

Step 6: Make a little salad by putting the arugula into a separate bowl. Use a mandoline to shave the red onion as thin as you can, or just use a knife. Put the red onion into the arugula and mix it up. Then dress it with the vinaigrette and toss until it’s evenly coated but not soggy.

Step 7: Put the dressed salad on top of the meats and cheeses.

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Step 8: Shave the Parmesan with a cheese grater or microplane right onto the salad. Season to taste with black pepper.

Step 9: Close up the sandwich, cut, and enjoy! It’s best if eaten an hour or two later, once it’s gotten nice and juicy.

Dina Ávila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe tested by Ivy Manning


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