Build a Hoagie Like the Pros — With a Spring Twist

WASHINGTON If there’s one ingredient that’s essential to a delicious hoagie, it’s the bread.

When local sub shop Taylor Gourmet opened its first location on H Street nine years ago, the deli’s owners made daily trips to Philadelphia to bring back rolls from Sarcone’s bakery. (Now, they make their bread in D.C., which proves to be a more efficient way to supply all 11 Taylor Gourmet locations in the area.) 

“Some people like a harder roll, but what you want is a little chew to it,” said Jacob Hunter, Taylor Gourmet’s new culinary director.

Hunter knows his way around a sandwich. Before joining Taylor in early 2017, he ran Dirty South Deli, which he co-founded with Will Fung in 2014. He also served as executive chef at Ted’s Bulletin and Matchbox for several years.

Now, his focus is on hoagies.

Hunter is rewriting expectations for the traditional meat- and cheese-stuffed roll, and playing with flavor combinations such as slow-roasted lamb with harissa-style yogurt, and avocado with sliced watermelon radishes and lemon ricotta for Taylor Gourmet’s new spring menu, out March 27.

“We’re trying to use more seasonal [ingredients] than we’ve ever done before more colors, more textures, more flavor than we’re used to,” said Hunter, who is bringing vegetables to the forefront. “We’re using them not as an afterthought, but as a main component.”

The Toast Redux is made with lemon ricotta, watermelon radish, sliced avocado, charred radicchio, herb salad, pickled red onion, tomato and olive oil. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
The Toast Redux is made with lemon ricotta, watermelon radish, sliced avocado, charred radicchio, herb salad, pickled red onion, tomato and olive oil. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)

WTOP recently stopped by Taylor Gourmet’s remodeled H Street shop to get some tips beyond the bun for building a heavenly hoagie at home.

It’s all about that base

Once you’ve picked the perfect roll, it’s time to build the base. Hunter, a self-professed “sauce fan,” smears the bottom of the bread with a condiment of choice whether it’s a mustard- or mayonnaise-based spread.

Then, it’s time for a layer of crunch. Hunter’s ingredient du jour is radish slices, but he says you can use pickles, cucumbers or even potato chips to achieve the same factor.

“Just something so that when you take a bite from the bottom, it kind of pops,” he said.

Meat in the middle

Next up, pile on the meat but don’t go overboard. Mile-high sandwiches may look delicious, but Hunter says too much meat distracts from the other ingredients on the roll and takes away from the sandwich’s overall flavor.

“The meat ratio doesn’t need to be astronomical. [Make sure] you can taste everything else,” he said.

“And then I like to go for another sauce right on top of that meat, something to kind of balance out the first sauce. So if you had something sweet on the bottom, maybe you want something a little sour next.”

If the base sauce is more acidic, a fattier or creamier spread works well on top of the meat.

Stick to seasonal ingredients

To top off the hoagie, Hunter says get creative and look to seasonal ingredients. An herbed arugula salad, for example, adds bitterness and color. Ramps, which flood local farmers markets in early spring, can be used in place of onions, and morels can be swapped out for white mushrooms.

For Taylor Gourmet’s spring menu, Hunter roasts spears of asparagus, which he marries with chicken cutlets, a sweet and tangy honey mustard sauce, and salty prosciutto.

Another seasonal favorite, peas, can be pureed into a hoagie-ready hummus.

“Don’t just look at a vegetable as you’re used to seeing it — see how you can transform it,” Hunter said.

Top everything off with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to accentuate the flavors.

Finally, it’s time to dig in.

The post Build a hoagie like the pros — with a spring twist appeared first on WTOP.

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