Everyone in our family loves a good sandwich. It seems there are some people out there who just don’t care for sandwiches. And there are others out there, our family included, who think a good sandwich can rival some pretty classy meals. To me, this quick and easy grilled pastrami with provolone qualifies as a really good sandwich.
My poor sons were doomed to be crazy about sandwiches through both sides of the family.
First, because their mother has had a special place in her heart for sandwiches since she was a girl. Especially grilled sandwiches in a crusty roll. In Brazil, we could stop at any street bar or cafe and order a misto quente, which is a hot ham and cheese in a toasted French roll. Or my favorite, sanduiche de espetinho, which is a grilled beef kabob sandwich where they pull the grilled and seasoned meat off the skewer by placing the kabob in a fresh crusty roll. Then they squeeze and pull on the skewer, leaving all the meat and juices perfectly nestled in the doughy inside. Yum, yum!
And my sons were doubly doomed because they inherited, through their father, their grandfather’s absolute love of any meat between two sides of bread. My father-in-law is notorious for making himself a sandwich as a snack any time he feels like it, and walking around contentedly noshing on it until it is gone. No plate. No napkin. He just lays one side of the sandwich against his four fingers, anchors the other side with his thumb, and he is good to go!
This particular sandwich; olive oil grilled pastrami with provolone, was something quick and easy I made up when we lived in Texas. It was a “go to” meal when I wanted to feed the family in a hurry. But just because we needed something fast didn’t mean I could short-change flavor. Like I said, this family is crazy about their sandwiches, so it had to be special.
let’s make this olive oil grilled pastrami with provolone
One of the things we all love about this sandwich is that it is very juicy inside. And that comes from the olive oil. I use a generous amount of olive oil when grilling the filling so there is no need for mayonnaise, reducing the amount of saturated fat.
And because my grilled pastrami with provolone was born in Texas, it calls for fresh bolillos.
Bolillos are so delicious, incredibly cheap, and available everywhere in Texas and the southwestern US. I’ve even found them fresh at the bakery of the Super Wal-Mart in Newton, KS where Steve’s family lives. I recommend bolillos over a hoagie or sub roll because bolillos are fluffy, which makes them less dry then those other alternatives.
Start by slicing the bolillos and placing two overlapping slices of provolone inside, against the top side.
Then, grill the onions in some olive oil. You want some good caramelization without losing the crispiness, which is why I transfer them to a paper plate while I grill the pastrami. That’s also why I grill the onions in two batches. Otherwise they crowd the pan and tend to boil more than caramelize.
Next, add more olive oil, pile on the shaved pastrami, and add a generous few pinches of garlic powder and oregano. Toss until the meat is warmed and covered in the olive oil, and the seasonings have been well distributed.
Add the onions and toss. Then turn off the heat and fill the cheese-prepped bolillos.
The meat filling should be hot enough to melt the cheese. But if you are making several or if you want to melt the cheese faster, you can place them in a pre-heated oven for a bit until all are ready to serve.
Eat warm and melty, with some plain yellow mustard, if you like. We usually eat it straight, with no other condiments. Serve with some chips and you have a delicious and satisfying meal with almost no effort at all!
Oh, my goodness gracious! Who needs mayonnaise indeed! But you can be the judge of that. Try it and tell me what you think!
- 4 bolillo rolls, fresh
- 1 pound beef pastrami, shaved
- 8 slices provolone cheese
- 2 cups sweet onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 4-6 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3-4 pinches garlic powder
- 3-4 pinches dry oregano
- Pre-heat the oven to 400° F.
- Slice the bolillos lengthwise down the middle and place two overlapping slices of cheese against the top side.
- Heat a non-stick pan to medium or medium-high.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and half of the onions.
- Toss until the onions are starting to brown.
- Remove from heat before they become too soft.
- Transfer to a paper plate and repeat with the rest of the sliced onions.
- Then add 2-3 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, add the shaved pastrami, and sprinkle the pinches of garlic powder and oregano.
- Toss until the meat is heated, well covered in olive oil, and the seasonings are well distributed.
- Add the onions and toss to mix well.
- Spoon equal amounts into the prepared bolillos.
- Place in the hot oven for a couple of minutes or just until the cheese finishes melting.
- Serve hot.