We're having something of a lard bread problem at Serious Eats HQ—we just can't stop eating the stuff. Especially when one of those porky loaves is a five-minute walk away from our office in Little Italy at Parisi Bakery.
The real problem, though, is the walk back, which involves passing by our favorite Italian specialty food store, Di Palo Selects. We get a ball of excellent fresh mozzarella every week or so from Di Palo, so it was only a matter of time before one found itself next to a loaf of lard bread on our kitchen counter. And that's when I remembered the immortal words of Michael White: "you should make a sandwich with those."
And so I did, and with all due respect to the all fantastic Italian sandwiches our fair city has to offer, I think this hack is my favorite. It's a foot-long antipasto salad mozzarella melt, and it disappeared about two minutes after it was made. There's just so much going on: the crunch of the crust giving way to a flood of olive oil, pork fat, and slightly gooey fresh dairy; super-savory olive, Parmesan, and salumi; and just enough sweetness to round it all out.
Here's what you'll need to make one of your own:
- 1 loaf lard bread from Parisi Bakery ($6.65). Opt for the straight, rather than circular loaf.
- 1/2 pound antipasto salad from Di Palo Selects (about $4.50). Di Palo's salad includes black and green olives, sliced salumi, chunks of Parmesan, fresh and roasted peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes, all swimming in olive oil and brine. It's a perfect balance of brine, fat, salt, and sweetness. Okay, not so much balanced as oily-cheesy-meaty delicious with a punch of olive, but you get the idea. It's awesome.
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella from Di Palo Selects ($7 to $10). You'll need about 1/3 of the ball for the sandwich. I trust you'll find a use for the rest.
- A toaster oven. Not strictly required, but toasting Parisi's lard bread turns the crust into a giant, aromatic pork rind, and provides the latent heat necessary to slightly melt the mozz.
A little expensive? Maybe, but keep in mind this makes 1 huge = 2 big = 3-4 reasonable sandwiches, and most importantly, will put an olive oily smile on the face of whoever takes a bite.
I think Erin said it all, though, as I offered her a perfect Frog Hollow Farms peach from a shipment earlier that day, which she declined to save room for more sandwich: "I want to serve this at every single party I host from now on."
Me too, Erin, me too.
Check out the slideshow to see how this puppy gets made.