HOT OFF THE PRESS

It was just this past weekend that I got the inspiration to take a shot at making a Shooter’s Sandwich. I had been browsing through a few websites (most notably Reddit on r/food) and I saw a few pictures of people making this pressed sandwich. I became very intrigued with this concept, which originated from a need to make a meal that was easy to transport while hunting and shoot. Hence, the name “Shooter’s Sandwich.” Although that is the more formal name of it, I have been more casually calling it a rendition of stuffed bread. This particular version of the sandwich takes quite a bit of time to make, mostly because you have to cut up  and cook all of the vegetables on top of having to cook the meat items as well.

Italian-Style Shooter’s Sandwich
Ingredients
(Can feed 3 – 4)

~ 1 package (1/2 lb) mushrooms, minced
~ 1 onion, minced
~ 1 1/2 green peppers, sliced into strips
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~  1 package (1/2 lb) turkey bacon (or regular bacon)
~ 4 – 6 slices provolone cheese
~ 4 – 6 slices mozzarella cheese
~ Marinara sauce
~ 1 fresh loaf of sourdough bread
~ 3 links of Italian sausage
~ Salt and pepper to taste

Start off by cutting out a hole at the top of your loaf of bread. Scrap out the rest of the bread from the interior of the bread until you have essentially just a bread bowl. Set that aside somewhere for the time being. Get started with cooking the sausages in a skillet with a cover. Take the first 12 minutes or so to brown both sides of the sausages on medium to medium-high heat. After they start to get that uniform beige color most of the way around, take about 1/4 cup of water and pour it right into the skillet. Cover that right up to trap in all the steam to allow that to cook the sausages the rest of the way through, which takes about 5 – 6 minutes.

Once those are done, take them off the stove and over to the cutting board. Slice them in half (with the two ends pointing up towards the ceiling) and arrange them along the bottom of the bread bowl. Next, head back to the stove to start cooking all of your vegetables. Don’t forget to season them lightly with some salt and pepper, since you will be putting them all together later. I let the pepper strips reduce down a bit until they were softer, more like the consistency that you would find them when they are put on actual street vended Italian sausages. Cook down your onions, mushrooms, and garlic as well, and throw them all together in a bowl. You can also concurrently cook the bacon on the stove while the vegetables are cooking. I had to do three or four strips of bacon at a time, since my pan couldn’t fit them all at once.

With everything cooked, it is time for the full assembly. With the sausages already into the bread bowl from before, add a light layer of the marinara sauce above them just to keep them moist. Next, layer over that with the provolone cheese, and all of the vegetables next. Throw the bacon on top of the vegetables, give that another layering of some marinara sauce, and top it all off with some mozzarella cheese. Put the “bread lid” back on and that little loaf is ready to get pressed.

I double wrapped the loaf in aluminum foil (once wrapping from the top, the second time wrapping from the bottom) and then put it onto an oven tray. I used a wooden cutting board to put over the top of the bread and then pressed it down with some weights (I had about 70 pounds on top of that thing). Leave that pressed for about 6 hours, after which it will come out nice and flattened.

There were a lot of water-based ingredients inside the bread (vegetables, marinara sauce) that the bread came out a bit soggy when I unwrapped it after the 6-hour flattening session, but not to worry. The last step of the process is to throw it into the oven at 375 degrees to warm everything back up as well as crisp up the exterior. Leave it in there for about 10 – 15 minutes, testing the crispness of the bread as well as if there are any burn marks forming on the bread. Once it’s all done, take it out, set it onto a cutting board, and slice that thing open. If everything worked out, the cheese will be nice and melted, and all of the filling is nice and warmed back up. It is also really great because the bread will still be nice and soft, while the bread crust will give the sandwich a great crunch. Serve it on the side with some marinara sauce to dip in, and it’s a meal all by itself. I had two slices and I was good for the rest of the night!

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