Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meet Me at the Deli (Counter, That is)

One of my favorite parts of the grocery store is the deli counter.  I am a sucker for deli meats.  A huge fan of charcuterie I am!  (Charcuterie is the craft of salting, curing, and smoking meats.)  I think I have tried it all, salamis from capicola to calabrese to sopressata, hams from proscuitto to mortadela, different types of pepperoni, pastramis.  The list can be endless.  I eat so much of the turkey breast for sandwiches at work that my friend, Ashley, once told me I'm probably well preserved.

My husband and I love to eat sandwiches on Sunday afternoon, especially with a good homemade bread, spicy brown mustard, and pepperoncini peppers, and of course some fantastic cold cuts.  I also love to make homemade pizzas and appetizers with different cuts of meat.

But today I'm here to talk about another dish...Stromboli.  Stromboli is like an Italian deli sandwich with layers of meat, cheese, and marinara sauce, all rolled up and baked together.  And, with homemade dough (yes, I finally conquered the art of breadmaking), the stromboli is spectacular.  As a side note, there is also a province of Italy called Stromboli which contains an active volcano named Stromboli.  Wonder if the sandwich was named after the volcano...Anywho, a Stromboli is kind of like an Italian deli sandwich crossed with a pizza.  It is similar to a Calzone, but a Calzone is more sausage based and has more vegetables like onions and bell peppers.  A Stromboli is more sandwich-meat based focusing more on said cold cuts that I mentioned before. 

And what better way to start out this dish than with homemade marinara.  Now, some of you may think it's too much work and would rather use marinara or spaghetti sauce out of a jar.  But I don't think like that.  I like to go the extra mile and create something special, something restaurant quality, something with love.  But, if you don't have the time or patience for making a lot from scratch, go ahead and use those shortcuts.  But, if you're adventurous, give the whole shebang a try.  You won't regret it.  Please note, this recipe makes quite a lot of marinara.  But it's so worth it.  Just freeze it in separate containers and pull them out as needed anytime you need marinara sauce.  I got about 8 3-4 cup containers out of this recipe. 

Also, the pizza dough recipe I use makes a really soft, thick dough.  But I like it that way!  Roll it out thinner and cook it longer if you prefer less crust.

Buon appetito!



3 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
6 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (San Marzano is preferable)
10-12 cloves of garlic (a whole bulb), minced
1 T beef bouillon
1 C red wine (any kind you like)
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped
1/4 C fresh Italian parsley, chopped
6 bay leaves
Red chili pepper flake, to taste
Salt & pepper
Olive oil


1 packet highly active yeast
1 1/4 C warm water, about 110 degrees
2 T olive oil
3 to 3 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 T garlic powder


Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
Assorted salamis (capicola, calabrese, peppered salami, etc)
Shredded cheese (I used a six-cheese Italian blend)
Peppers (I used pepperoncini)
Black olives

For the marinara, heat a really big stock pot over medium heat.  Drizzle olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot.  Add in the onions, carrots, and celery.  Cook about 10 minutes or until tender.  Add in remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium low heat for at least an hour, longer if desired.  Remove all the bay leaves and blend.  I use an immersion blender, but you can blend it in batches in a blender.  Transfer with a ladle to plastic containers (I use the rectangle ones that lunchmeat comes in) and freeze the extra marinara that you don't need for Stromboli.

For the dough, put the yeast, water, and sugar in a stand mixer and let sit until a little frothy.  (If you don't have a stand mixer, it's okay.  Put it in a bowl and whisk.)  Add in the olive oil, salt, and 3 cups of flour.  Knead until it becomes a ball.  If it seems sticky or too wet, add in the rest of the flour.  Place the ball in a large bowl sprayed with pan spray and cover tightly.  Set it on the stove (all burners off, of course).  A trick to help it rise...Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, then turn it off.  Open the door.  When you can touch the racks without burning yourself, place the bowl of dough in the oven and close the door.  Your dough should be ready in about an hour.  Divide your dough in two equal pieces and stretch slightly.  Place it on a cookie sheet and let rise another 20 minutes.  Now you're ready! 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the dough slightly to about a 6-8 inch circle.  Spread the marinara sauce on and layer with whatever fillings you like over half the dough.  Starting on one end, fold the edge over and then twist the dough on itself.  (Don't worry, just fold it over and make sure it's sealed).  Bake 20-25 minutes, checking at 15-minute intervals.  Whisk the garlic powder into the butter and brush over the top.  Continue baking until browned and beautiful!

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