Roast Pork with Broccoli Rabe and Provolone Hero is a signature dish hailing from the great city of Philadelphia where many Italian immigrants settled. It was originally created by Domenico Bucci, an Italian immigrant. This sandwich is a sibling to the famous Philly Cheesesteak. In fact, we like it better.
As for the history of this dish, Bucci came from Abruzzese to Philly to become the city’s first caterer. He originally cooked for many weddings and local events. In 1930, he built a wooden shack along the river on land that he leased from the B & O Railroad. His menu included two sandwiches, the roast pork and a meatball hero.
Today his grandson, John Bucci, runs one of the most famous sandwich shops in Philly, John’s Roast Pork. He serves his grandfather’s signature roast pork sandwich with a few add ons. John actually is credited with adding sharp provolone and sauteed spinach to his grandfather’s classic sandwich. Other shops have recreated it using broccoli rabe. Either way this sandwich is delicious and if you are ever in Philly you must seek one out.
Our version of the recipe has roast pork that is seasoned and cooked in a delicious au jus. Then sliced and put on crispy Italian Bread, topped with sauteed broccoli rabe, sharp provolone and roasted peppers. Trust us when we say this sandwich is to die for. The recipe is a sure crowd pleaser for your summer cookouts. All the ingredients can be prepared in advance. Just assemble before serving.
Philly Roast Pork and Broccoli Rabe Sandwich
(Makes 8 Heros)
6 Lbs. Pork Butt
2 Cups Salt – plus 1 tsp.
1 Cup Sugar
5 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Rosemary
2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Thyme
2 Tbsp. Fennel Seeds
1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
2 Cups Au Jus (In the Can)
3 Tbsp. Worchestire Sauce
1 tsp. Black Pepper
10 Garlic Cloves
2 Tbsp. Honey
For the Broccoli Rabe
2 Bunches of Broccoli Rabe – Stems trimmed
¼ Cup Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves
⅛ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
To Assemble the Sandwich
8 Italian Hero Rolls
1 Jar Roasted Peppers or 3 Peppers Roasted Homemade
1 lb. Sliced Provolone
In a bowl, mix the 2 cups of salt, sugar, 4 tbsp. rosemary, thyme, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. Put the pork butt in a deep pan and cover with the salt mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and rinse well and pat dry. Put it in a roasting pan. In a bowl mix the au jus, the worchestire, 1 tsp.salt and black pepper. Put this mixture in the pan along with the garlic. Put in the oven and cook until the meat begins to brown. About 20 minutes. Reduce the heat in the oven to 275 degrees and cook the pork for about another 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reads 140 degrees.
In the meantime, make the broccoli rabe. Please note, this can be done in advance. Boil a pot of water. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the stems become soft. Drain and put in an ice bath. This will keep the color of the broccoli rabe nice and green and stop it from cooking more. In a frying pan add the oil, red pepper flakes and the garlic. Sautee the garlic on a low flame until it is cooked through. Add the broccoli rabe and sautee for about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic and shut off the heat. Set aside.
Once the pork is at 140 degrees, remove it from the oven. Raise the heat in the oven to 450 degrees. Let the pork rest for about 5 minutes, and remove the garlic from the pan. In the small bowl, using a fork, smash the garlic. Add the honey and 1 tbsp. Rosemary. Mix and pour this mixture over the pork and rub it in. Return the pork to the oven and cook until it is golden brown (about 10 to 15 minutes).
Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Trim any fat and slice the pork very thin. Return it to the gravy once it is sliced.
Reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees. Now it is time to assemble the sandwich. Slice the rolls and top the bread with provolone. Put the bread in the oven to toast and melt the cheese. Remove from the oven and top with the pork, some gravy, the broccoli rabe and roasted peppers. Serve Immediately.
Dena & Lisa