The question on the game show Jeopardy is “Heavy on the oil, no mayo, peppers on the side.” The immediate Philadelphia response: “What is a hoagie?”
The origin of the hoagie is questionable, as there are a few versions of how our sandwich got its name. There is a claim that the hoagie was first made at DiCostanza’s grocery – a store in Chester that opened in 1925. But what Philadelphian could believe that? Chester – really? Or, the talk is that the first hoagie was made on or near Hog Island, the Philadelphia Naval Yard, an industrial and shipping area of South Philadelphia during World War I. Originally called a Hog Island Sandwich, it later became known as a “hogie” for short. A “hogie” eventually became known as a “hoagie.” Another possibility is that an Irish worker named Hogan asked his Italian coworker if his wife would pack an additional sandwich for him for lunch. So “make one for Hogan” was shortened to “hogans,” then became “hoagies.” Further, anyone who could finish the whole thing was thought to be a hog – “hoggie.” Although Italian sandwiches were reported to be made in New York in 1885, and in New Orleans in 1891, they were not quite the hoagie.
All versions seem plausible, and could have produced the word hoagie. Clearly, this is no hogwash.
The hoagie assumed many aliases, as it made its way around the country. Depending on your location, the sandwich could be known as a sub, a torpedo, a zeppelin, a hero, a grinder or a poor boy. But the real deal, made in Philly, is a hoagie. The word “hoagie” means a regular or Italian to me. Of course, diverse stuffings are available to make a hoagie, but I’m sticking with the classic.
Beating out the cheesesteak, which is definitely a Philly phavorite, the hoagie was proclaimed “The Official Sandwich of Philadelphia” in 1992 by then-Mayor Ed Rendell.
The psychedelic van has stopped. It’s parked for another winter. The John Lennon lookalike can rest until next summer. Officially, the Wawa Hoagiefest 2014 has come to a close. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good hoagie. The best hoagies in town just might be made in your own kitchen.
Here’s a good homemade Italian-style hoagie to go hog wild over, and still be kind to your piggy bank. Guaranteed all your “hoggy,” hoagie-loving family and friends will be happy.
HOAGIE (Italian Style or Regular)
½ cup oil
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. basil leaves
1½ Tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 8-inch hoagie rolls, sliced ¾ way through
½ lb. thin sliced ham
1/3 lb. thin sliced Genoa salami
½ lb. thin sliced hot ham or capicola
1/3 lb. Provolone cheese, sliced thin
Thinly sliced tomatoes – 2 large
Thinly sliced onions – 1 large
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sweet or Hot cherry peppers, sliced (optional)
Pickle, sliced (optional)
- In a small saucepan, heat oil until barely hot.
- Remove from heat and add crushed red peppers and spices.
- Allow to stand 10 minutes. Add vinegar.
- Brush rolls with seasoned oil mixture.
- Divide and layer cheese, then layer meats on the rolls.
- Add lettuce and tomato between cheese and meat layers.
- Add onion slices.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Add extra seasoned oil, if desired.
- Finish with (optional) peppers and pickles.
It’s easy to transform the above recipe into a hoagie dip with a few minor alterations.
Use the same ingredients as above.
- Chop meats and cheese.
- Chop onions and tomatoes.
- Add ¼ cup mayonnaise.
- Make the seasoned oil. Set aside.
- Cut rolls into thin slices.
- In a large bowl mix meat, cheese, onions, and peppers.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Add seasoned oil.
- Add ¼ cup mayonnaise.
- Add tomatoes and lettuce and mix.
Note: If not serving immediately, mix everything but lettuce. Add shredded lettuce just before serving.
- Serve with bread slices.
The hoagie is a Philadelphia institution, as are soft pretzels, steak sandwiches, Tastykakes, cinnamon buns, scrapple and Rocky.
“Yo, Adrian, what do you want on your hoagie?”
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 3412 Progress Drive, Suite C, Bensalem, PA 19020)