South Philly Stromboli

Make strom­boli at home that tastes like you bought it on 9th Street.

“I think I was born with a rolling pin in my hand,” I de­clared as I wiel­ded the in­stru­ment of flat de­struc­tion across the pizza dough, flat­ten­ing the lump in­to one, very thin cov­er for a Strom­boli ex­traordin­aire. We were mak­ing a Strom­boli — my sis­ter-in-law, Den­ise, and me. It would be our fam­ily’s last vis­it to At­lanta to see Nanny, my hus­band’s moth­er, who was in at-home hos­pice at Den­ise’s house. Den­ise wanted to learn how to make Strom­boli. But who can do that without a rolling pin? A pre­vi­ous phone con­ver­sa­tion had dis­closed that we would be without that ne­ces­sary tool, so I brought mine along on our trip from Phil­adelphia.

Our fam­ily had shared New Year’s Eve, as well as my Strom­boli, on one of our trips to At­lanta a few years ago. It was a Christ­mas time vis­it, very cold out­side, and we packed the car to drive down to At­lanta to ring in the New Year. It was cold enough in the trunk of our car for the per­ish­able treat to make the trip. So, I made the Strom­bol­is at home and wrapped them to be ready to bake right away when we ar­rived on New Year’s Eve.

We al­ways eat Strom­boli on New Year’s Eve — it’s our tra­di­tion. No one in the fam­ily is Itali­an, but Strom­boli was ad­ded as an ap­pet­izer one year and morph­ed in­to a main­stay that’s been eaten on the last night of the year by every­one in my fam­ily. This re­cipe came in­to my pos­ses­sion the first year I was mar­ried (note: long, long time ago). I didn’t find this re­cipe on the In­ter­net or from a food show on TV. It came to me hand­writ­ten on a ripped piece of pa­per from a guy my cous­in was dat­ing at the time. He was Itali­an and from South Philly, a sec­tion of the city known for good, homemade Itali­an cook­ing. Strom­boli was def­in­itely a keep­er. By the way, I’m tak­ing a chance here pub­licly re­veal­ing this re­cipe, but what’s a broken leg or broken arm, if you can share a great “Fam­ily” re­cipe.

Al­though I tried to con­sult the au­thor­ity on what makes a good New Year’s Eve party food, Dick Clark was un­avail­able for com­ment. I’m work­ing on my clair­voy­ance and chan­nel­ing with no luck, but am sure Dick would give this Strom­boli a Thumbs Up! If heav­en is rock­ing on New Year’s Eve, this is the food to serve to keep the party go­ing.

Strom­boli makes a great hot party food that can be made in ad­vance, frozen and then baked. I usu­ally make my own dough – a quick, easy, in­ex­pens­ive food pro­cessor Itali­an bread re­cipe that I found in a book­let en­closed with the ma­chine. However, if you do not have a food pro­cessor or lack the in­clin­a­tion or time to make homemade, some loc­al su­per­mar­ket baker­ies make and sell the dough in the bakery frozen sec­tion. (Shop­Rite and Food Ba­sics)


1 lb. Itali­an pizza dough

½ lb. pro­volone cheese, sliced thin

½ lb. pep­p­er­oni, sliced pa­per thin

AS­SEMBLE: Di­vide dough in half. Roll each half in­to a rect­angle about 12 inches by 10 inches on a lightly floured sur­face. Dough will be about ¼ inch thick. (If dough sticks, add a little more flour to sur­face and rolling pin.)

Cov­er each rect­angle of dough with ¼ lb. cheese, over­lap­ping slices. Lay the pep­p­er­oni slices on top of the cheese, side by side. Again, cov­er the area but do not over­lap slices. (Here, more is not bet­ter. Too much pep­p­er­oni seems to cause the dough to crack while it bakes.)

ROLL: Roll up Strom­boli, jelly-roll style, start­ing from the longest side, pinch seam then pinch ends. Place on a greased cook­ie sheet. Bake seam side down in pre­heated 400-de­gree oven for about 20 minutes or un­til Strom­boli is lightly brown and has a hol­low sound when knocked on top. Cut in di­ag­on­al wedges and serve. Makes 2 Strom­bol­is.

BAKE AHEAD: Bake as above. Freeze, de­frost to room tem­per­at­ure, wrap in foil. Pre­heat oven to 400 de­grees for about 10-15 minutes.

Happy New Year!

Eat well, live long, en­joy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats­cook­in­ or in care of the North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053)

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