Hoagie & Cheesesteak Rolls

Recipe: Hoagie & Cheesesteak Rolls

As a native Philadelphian, Cow House Co-Director Frank Abruzzese has a particular affinity for the Hoagie and Cheesesteak sandwiches of his childhood. To this day, his first stop on any visit home begins with a cheesesteak from the iconic John’s Roast Pork. Anyone familiar with these delicious sandwiches from Philly knows the real key is the bread. Baguettes just won’t do. Their crust is too thick, it makes the sandwich difficult to bite into and the pressure from the bite squeezes all the tasty filling out the bottom

With some time on our hands this summer, Caitriona and Frank set out to crack the code. We wanted a bread similar to the original but couldn’t find a recipe online that came close. Frank even reached out to the well known Sarcone’s Bakery in South Philly to see if they could provide any insight into their process. No luck, their only reply was a hands up emoji and sunglasses emoji… After some trial and error, Frank remembered reading in Joe Beddia’s Pizza Camp cookbook that he often uses his leftover dough to make hoagie rolls. Rather than recreate his more complex dough recipe, we fell back on our own reliable Neopolitan pizza dough. The result was perfect, and now, whenever Frank is pining for home he just pleads with Caitriona to make some rolls for lunch.

This is a very simple recipe, one that anyone can recreate at home. The quantities that we have listed here make six hoagie rolls roughly seven inches long. We tried out a few different lengths and weights and found that this size works best for a reasonable portion size. When Caitriona is making the rolls, she uses scales when dividing the dough, to make sure that all the dough balls are equal weight. This ensures that the cooking time will give an even bake. At Cow House, we don’t have an oven with a steamer built-in, so when baking bread that needs some steam, we add a tray of boiling hot water to the bottom of the oven, and this works perfectly for us.

In addition to the recipe for the rolls, we’ve included two of our favorite sandwiches to serve for lunch or dinner during our artist residencies, our gap year program FieldWorks, and our summer program Art on the Farm. The first is a ridiculously tasty veggie hoagie that any meat lover would enjoy, and the second is a classic cheesesteak. There are so many other possibilities, and you can enjoy these rolls with just about any sandwich filling.

Hoagie & Cheesesteak Rolls: Ingredients

  • 500g strong flour

  • 4g instant dried yeast

  • ½ tsp sea salt

  • 335ml of tepid water

  • semolina for dusting


Add all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. In your stand mixer with the dough attachment, add the water and kneed at a low speed for 10 minutes. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky, a bit more water if too dry.

Remove the dough from the mixer and knead it into a ball. Place it back into the bowl, cover with cling film, and let it prove in a warm room for up to one hour or until it doubles in size.

Divide the dough into six equal portions and round them into a ball shape. Then, once divided roll each portion into a cylindrical shape roughly six inches long, using semolina to stop it from sticking to the table. Finish them off with a generous sprinkle of semolina and cover with a cloth. Leave the rolls to prove overnight in the fridge.

The following day, remove the dough from the fridge and let them to come up to room temperature while the oven is preheating to 250º C. When the oven is preheated place a tray with boiling water on the bottom shelf. Make three slits on each roll and place them in the oven for around 20 minutes, checking after 10 minutes, to see if the temperature needs to be turned down. You don’t want them too dark on top. Remove and allow to cool for one hour.

Roasted Veggie Hoagie: Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 3 garlic cloves minced

  • 1 cup (180 ml) mayo

  • Zest and juice of one lemon

  • 1 tbs miso paste

  • 1 tbs fresh oregano

  • 1 tsp Korean red pepper flakes

  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley

For the hoagie:

  • 2 eggplant or three large portabello mushrooms

  • 3 sweet red peppers

  • 500g of kale, spinach, or broccoli rabe

  • 3 balls of good quality fresh mozzarella cheese

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • 9 tbs olive oil


For the dressing combine all the ingredients and blitz in your food processor.

Preheat your oven to 225º C, or prepare your gas or charcoal grill. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise and cut crisscross patterns in the flesh. Brush with one tbs of olive oil, season with salt, and roast for 40 minutes or bbq until fully cooked. The eggplant should be tender and creamy with some charing on the skin.

Roast or bbq the sweet red peppers whole without oil until the skin just begins to turn black and the flesh begins to soften. Remove them from the oven or bbq and place them in a covered bowl to let them cool slightly. Peel the peppers and remove the stem and seeds, taking care to reserve the liquid. Add one clove of minced garlic and 2 tbs of olive oil.

Wash and chop your kale, spinach, or broccoli rabe and cook in a covered pan on low for about 20 minutes with one tbs of olive oil and salt to taste. Spinach will take much less time, broccoli rabe will take a bit more. Remove the lid and add 1 clove of minced garlic. Cook on high heat for just one minute stirring continuously.

Tear apart the mozzarella, and combine it with the lemon juice, 1 grated clove of garlic, five tbsp of olive oil, and salt to taste.

To build the sandwich, put two or three tablespoons of dressing on each roll, then divide the cooked veggies and mozzarella mixture between the six rolls. Dress with some additional freshly chopped parsley. No joke, these sandwiches are seriously delicious

Cheesesteak: Ingredients

  • 900g whole rib-eye steak

  • 300g mild cheddar, gouda, or American cheese, sliced

  • 2 onions, roughly diced

  • salt and pepper

  • ketchup and/or our fermented hot sauce


Place the whole rib eye steak in the freezer for around 1½ – 2 hours, until it starts to firm up. Careful, you don’t want it to freeze!

Meanwhile heat up your griddle or cast iron pan to medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs of sunflower oil, and then the diced onions, seasoning with a bit of salt. Fry the onions until they’re soft and develop some color, adjusting the heat as necessary. When fully cooked, set aside and wipe your pan or griddle clean.

Using a deli slicer or very sharp knife, slice the rib eye as thin as you can get it. Divide the sliced meat into two or three batches depending on the size of your cooking surface.

Turn the heat up on your griddle or cast iron pan to high and add the beef. Do this in smaller batches as you don’t want to crowd the cooking surface. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and let the meat brown for a few minutes. Using two metal spatulas, chop the meat a bit as it’s cooking. The beef should only take a few minutes to cook.

When cooked, separate the beef into portion sizes and shape roughly to the length of the hoagie rolls. Add the onion and sliced cheese on top and allow to melt for a minute. Then, taking your hoagie roll sliced lengthways, place it over the meat and cheese. Using your spatula, scoop it in under the meat to gather the sandwich together. Serve immediately, with sides of ketchup and fermented hot sauce.

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