It was a clear bright night, a clear white moon.
We were driving around south Philadelphia throwing out guesses as to why Philadelphians get to park WHEREVER they feel like, rows of cars on the sidewalks and the turn lanes. He asked the lady at the donut shop, if we could follow suit, “if you want to be a scofflaw” she replied. Scofflaw, what? Who says that? What is that? Someone who scoffs at the law, obviously. Do people still scoff, I kind of feel like that is a late fifties, early sixties thing…
“Let’s go run the Rocky Steps”, I suggest, I know it’s touristy, but I just ate my weight in thinly sliced steak and Cheese Whiz, so I need some aerobics. Supposedly there is a beautiful skyline view from the top. So, we run up the steps and I’m playing Eye of the Tiger on my phone. Dun. Dun Dun Dun. We get to the top and do the thing. We’re the only people at the top, except for a limo driver who is quite possibly Cee Lo Green, I am not positive though. As we catch our breath, the sky is surprisingly full of stars, and even though it is late, a few more people start showing up. A mom and her teenage daughter who is lugging around a camera that I am sure makes her feel like a national geographic super shooter, four or five overgrown boy scouts, then a couple peddle up on bikes. He is trying to get her to ride down the steps, she is hesitant and he is exuding all the charm he can muster, I give her a look like, - don’t do it sister, and I see that she is now looking past me, at something over my shoulder, and although I cannot see them , I can hear them. 15, maybe 20 hoodlums on motorized dirt bikes roll up; there is a four wheeler with a bearded Amish kid and the smaller bikes have scrappy young Latinos steering them. They all line up at the top of the steps, my jaw drops – is this real life, is this the motorcycle gang from Karate kid he says and we chuckle as the start performing for us. Wheelies and jumps, parading up and down the steps. This can’t be legal. I look at Cee Lo and he says “I don’t care what they do, as long as they don’t scratch my car”. I reveal that I am secretly wishing they start jumping over the length of the limo. We watch a few more tricks and then my beau says who are these guys? They’re the South Philly Scofflaws and this is amazing.
Amazing as the South Philly Scofflaws are, they were temporarily forgotten to the rapturous consumption of the ONLY sandwich that anyone should ever eat while in Philadelphia. Dinic's is in The Reading Terminal, get there. There on a perfect Italian roll, fennel spiced pork pulled is piled high on top of sharp sliced provolone, and then draped with garlicky, olive oily broccoli rabe and charred roasted peppers. This is how you should order it, and when you are sitting in your stool, watching them spoon, rich, caramel hued broth over your sandwich, you will know what I mean when I tell you it is flawless.
Here is how I attempted to replicate this marvel.
Dinic’s Italian Style Pulled Pork Sandwich – The Best Sandwich EVER
makes six sandwiches
Pulled Pork Ingredients
1 4-Pound Bone in “picnic” Pork Roast
1 Cup Broth
5 Rosemary Sprigs
1 Fennel Bulb, Thinly Sliced
1 White Onion, Thinly Sliced
3 Celery Ribs, Chopped
6 Garlic Cloves, Diced
3 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
2 TB Fennel Seeds
Salt & Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
Pulled Pork Instructions
Combine all the brine ingredients with the pork shoulder in a bag and massage it like you mean it for about two minutes, then refrigerate overnight. Combine the contents of your brine bag, and the broth into a Dutch oven or large covered pot. Roast in the oven at 275° for about 3 ½ hours or until the internal temperature 190°, remove from the oven and uncover and allow to rest for about 30 minutes before pulling. Remove the roast from the pot and the drippings and broth on low, re-adding the pulled pork as it surrenders itself to you. Keep it warm while you prepare the broccoli rabe and assemble the rest of your sandwiches. To roast the peppers, place them directly on your stovetop burner until charred, once charred let them sauna it up in a Ziploc bag until you can easily peel their skins off. I intended to use Cubanelle Peppers.
Broccoli Rabe Ingredients
2 Bunches of Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)
6 Garlic Cloves
2 TB Red Pepper Flakes
½ Cup Olive Oil (Give or take some)
Broccoli Rabe Instructions
Wash and rough chop the broccoli rabe. Finely dice the shallot and garlic. Boil about 1 ½ cups of water in a sauté pan, add the broccoli rabe until it turns dark green and then remove it from the heat. (It will only take a few seconds and you’ll want to shuffle the pieces around to make sure they all get cooked). Once you have pressed most of the water from the greens, warm the olive oil and add first the shallots, then the garlic, then the greens and red pepper flakes, give a quick stir and then cover for ten minutes, only checking it if the pan starts making apocalyptic threats. You want the greens to get extra soft, once they are done, season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Italian Sweet Roll
Sliced Sharp Provolone
Italian Pulled Pork
Sandwich Assembly Instructions
Slice the roll lengthwise, line with sharp provolone. Pile in Pulled Pork and spoon over a little extra broth. Add in the broccoli Rabe and Roasted Peppers. Eat immediately without hesitation or regrets.