Everyone knows Philly for their cheese steaks, but Philly roast pork sandwiches are actually the best sandwiches in Philadelphia. PERIOD.
These garlicky, juicy sandwiches are paired with slightly bitter broccoli rabe, smoky roasted red pepper, and sharp provolone to make a true masterpiece of a sandwich not easily replicated. A true roast pork sandwich takes hours of brining, hours of cooking, and ends with a melt in your mouth deliciousness found only in the city of brotherly love.
Now, you can have all of this in the comfort of your own home without flying to Philly and waiting in the long line in Reading Terminal Market. This slow cooker version is fast to assemble, and it would make a great party dish or meal to serve during a football game.
I've been thinking about making these roast pork sandwiches for a long time. I've been researching the best way to make a pork loin, how to thinly slice it, how I'd keep pork juicy without oil or brine. Then I found this pork in the deli. I was skeptical but hopeful. Good God, this is delicious.
I kept tasting the broth as it was cooking in utter disbelief at just how good it was. Every time I lifted the slow cooker lid (which I know you're not really supposed to do) my house was filled with this amazing smell only found in the best delis and sandwich shops of Philly. If I could buy a candle that smelled like this, I would.
I made everyone in the house try it. It was so good. When I finally assembled the sandwiches and I took my first bite, I texted like three people. I was shook, as the teens probably don't say any more. There is so much flavor in these layers.
A good sandwich has layers of flavor and texture
The sauce for the Philly roast pork sandwiches couldn't be simpler to make.
You slice a whole head of garlic in half (like a burger patty), add a handful of herbs and some cheese, and add it to a slower cooker with chicken broth. That's it. You let the slow cooker do its thing until you're ready to serve.
The toppings are just as important as the sauce itself. For the ideal Philly roast pork sandwich, you're going to need roasted red peppers, sharp provolone or Parmesan, and broccoli rabe. Can't find broccoli rabe? You can substitute it with sauteed spinach. You can serve these on a Kaiser roll or hoagie roll, but I believe the best pork sandwiches have a hard, crusty roll. Seeded if possible. From Sarcone's bakery in South Philly, specifically haha. I'd eat that bread whole like I was Aladdin if I had the chance.
Preparing the toppings
The broccoli rabe needs to be blanched. Fill a pot with salted water (like pasta water) and boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove the broccoli rabe and put it in a bowl of ice water. This step will make the broccoli rabe tender before sauteing it. Spray a pan with cooking spray and saute it with 1/2 tsp red pepper, 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt. It’ll will and shrink a little like spinach. Cook for about 5 minutes then remove and store for later.
Roasting red peppers required fire. I usually throw mine on the grill until fully blackened on all sides. If you can’t grill, blacken them directly on the flame of your stove. Once they are blackened, put them in a bowl and cover them (I use a plate). Let them sit for a few minutes. After about 5 minutes, the skin will be looser and the peppers should be cool enough to handle.
Put the peppers on a cutting board, and wipe the charred parts off the pepper using a paper towel. Cooking the peppers takes a lot of the heat off of it, so don’t worry about spice. Chop the red peppers into big chunks and store in a bowl until ready to serve. Don't have the time for all that? They sell fire roasted red peppers in jars.
Serving the Philly Roast Pork Sandwiches
Since we are using deli sliced roast pork, the pork does not need to cook very long. Let the sauce do its thing all day, and then add your pork right before serving. If you are having a party, you can set everything up ahead of time and just heat and serve the day of.
For the perfect Philly roast pork sandwich, lay your garlicky and slightly bitter broccoli rabe or spinach on the bottom of your roll, pile on the pork, top with provolone or Parmesan shavings, and then top with red peppers. Before taking a bite, ladle on a generous portion of that sauce for an epic bite.Print
This iconic Philly sandwich can be made right in your own home and it is surprisingly great with WW points. The flavors of this sandwich are out of this world--its savory, garlicky, and each layer compliments each other so well. It's only 3sp before provolone cheese and roll on all plans, and a crowd pleaser.
- 1.5 lb. deli sliced roasted pork loin (I use Columbus brand)
- 6 cups fat-free chicken broth
- 1 head of garlic + 4 cloves
- 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
- 12-15 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes, divided
- 1 oz parmesan
- kosher salt + pepper to taste
- 2 bunches of broccoli rabe
- 3 red bell peppers
- 8 rolls
- Slice the top off the whole head of garlic. Add garlic (skin and all), rosemary, thyme, Parmesan, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, and 6 cups chicken broth into a slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high.
- When ready to serve, add sliced pork into the crock pot to warm up and serve on sandwiches.
- Add broccoli rabe, roaste red peppers, provolone cheese, and pork to a crusty roll, ladle on some broth and enjoy.
Preparing Broccoli Rabe
- Fill a pot with water, liberally salt, and bring to a boil. While the pot is getting ready to boil, set up a large bowl filled with ice and water.
- Boil broccoli rabe for 2 minutes then remove and submerge into the ice water. (this is blanching, if you didn't know and it can be done in advance).
- Spray a large pan with some preferred cooking spray or oil, and add 4 thinly sliced cloves of garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, broccoli rabe, and kosher salt. Saute for 5 minutes.
Prepare Roasted Red Peppers
- Char the red peppers until they are black all around. I do this on the grill, but you can do it with a broiler or directly on the flame of your stove top.
- Place your charred peppers in a large bowl and cover for 5 minutes. This process loosens the skin better.
- Remove the skin with a paper towel or knife. Remove the tops and seeds of the peppers and loosely chop.
If you like this recipe as much as I do, post it on Instagram and tag me! I love seeing people making and enjoying my food. Tag me @dwardcooks or use #dwardcooks as a hashtag.