For a genuinely gratifying bite, our version of Philadelphia roast pork sandwiches blends roasted pork with melty provolone cheese and broccoli rabe. With plenty of garlic, some red pepper flakes, and fresh lemon juice, we sautéed the broccoli rabe before serving. The pork is wonderfully soft and buttery with a delicious crust, and its sharpness and brightness offset the fattiness of the meat. In order to achieve consistent cooking, allow the pork to sit at room temperature for an hour while the oven is preheating. The fat on top crisps and renders when it is first roasted at 450°F, and the meat is slowly cooked after that. The mayo, which has a punch of acidity from pickled pepperoncini and its brine, is the finishing touch. The provolone adds sharpness and helps keep the bottom of the roll from getting too soggy.
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- ⅓ cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 ½ tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, divided
- 1 (3-pound) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), fat cap trimmed to 1/4 inch
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped pickled pepperoncini plus 1 1/2 tablespoons pickle brine (from 1 [12-ounce] jar)
- ½ teaspoon grated garlic (from 2 medium garlic cloves)
- 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (3 tablespoons)
- 1 pound fresh broccoli rabe, leaves and tender stems chopped (woody ends discarded) (about 8 cups)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 6 hearty seeded round sandwich rolls, split
- 12 (3/4-ounce) sharp provolone cheese slices
- Fennel seeds should be roasted and fragrant after about 2 minutes of medium heat cooking and frequent stirring. Transfer to a small bowl; let rest for 5 minutes or until thoroughly chilled.
- Put cooled fennel seeds in a spice grinder and pulse for 15 seconds to get a fine powder. Once again, add sugar, rosemary, thyme, 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper to the small bowl. To uniformly coat the meat, rub mixture over it. Put the pork on a wire rack into a big, foil-lined baking pan with a rim. Allow to rest for one hour at room temperature. In the interim, preheat the oven to 450°F.
- For about 20 minutes, roast the pork in a preheated oven until the top is browned. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F without opening it. Continue roasting for another 1 hour, 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the flesh reads 165°F. Take out of the oven. Move the pork to a cutting board inside a baking sheet with a rim to catch the juices. Pork should be loosely covered with aluminium foil and given 30 minutes to rest at room temperature. Pork should be thinly sliced. Add any carving juices to a medium bowl and transfer. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt after adding it.
- Mayonnaise, brined pepperoncini chunks, and grated garlic are mixed in a small bowl while the pork is resting. Save for later use by setting aside.
- After the pork has rested for about 20 minutes, heat the sliced garlic and remaining 1/3 cup oil in a big Dutch oven or deep pan over medium-high, turning frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the garlic turns light golden. Add the broccoli rabe and the final half teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes, or until broccoli rabe stems are tender-crisp. Lemon juice and the final 3/4 teaspoon of salt are added when the heat is turned off.
- Set rack to be about 10 inches from heat and preheat oven to broil. Rolls should be placed cut side up on a large baking sheet with a rim. Each bottom roll should have two slices of provolone. For one to two minutes, broil food in a preheated oven until the cheese melts. Take out of the oven. On the bottom rolls, distribute the pork equally. Add 1/3 cup of the broccoli rabe mixture to each. On each top bun half, spread 2 1/2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise mixture. Sandwiches are covered with top buns. Serve.
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