The swallows of San Juan Capistrano have returned and that means the boys of summer aren’t far behind.
I have but a few passions in my life and The Game is one of them. I’ve been fortunate to have attended a good many professional baseball games in my years — many as a reporter with access to the players and the field.
But nothing compares with the experience of eating a hot dog and chasing it down with a beer, while watching the home team pull out a win in the bottom of the ninth. It’s true … Hot dogs taste best while breathing ballpark air and hearing the crack of an ash wood bat against the horsehide. But, I digress.
Most ballparks have moved beyond peanuts and Cracker Jack with some over-the-top ballpark fare. And some of it is pretty damn good, which is why I’m taking you on a ballpark food tour this season. The first installment is a trip to the city of brotherly love — Philadelphia — where I spent a few years covering the hometown Phillies.
Philadelphia is famous for cheesesteaks, the Liberty Bell and the guiltiest of all guilty pleasure sandwiches — the Schmitter.
Popular lore is that this gooey mess of goodness was named for the Phillies’ most popular player of all time, Mike Schmidt. But that’s just not true. By the time the Hall-of-Famer was called up to the majors in 1972, the sandwich had already been on the menu for a few years — at McNalley’s Tavern, a pub in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. In fact, it was named for a popular locally-brewed beer.
Many people describe the Schmitter as a cheesesteak on steroids, while McNally’s claims that it’s been touted ‘as a sure help for everything from hitting home runs to coaxing overdue newborns into the world.’ Either way, that’s one hell of a sandwich.
While the Schmitter is still served all the time at McNally’s, you’ll have to stand in line at Citizens Bank Park (home of the Phillies) for one. And it’s only available in section 140, but well worth the walk (since you’ll need the exercise).
The Schmitter Sandwich (the Unorthodox Epicure version)
1/4 cup – Mayonnaise
2 TB – Ketchup
2 TB – Sweet pickle relish
1 tsp – Old Bay seasoning
2-3 drops – Worcestershire
2-3 drops – Louisiana-style hot sauce
Combine all ingredients in a bowl; set aside.
4 oz (1/4 lb) – Rare roast beef, sliced thin
2 – Salami slices, thickly cut
4 – Yellow onion slices
3 – American cheese slices
2 – Tomato slices, about 1/2-inch thick
2 TB – Butter
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. (And prepare broiler for toasting roll.) Place onions on one side of skillet; top with (stacked) roast beef slices. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip. Place salami slices on other side of skillet; top with a cheese slice, then tomato slices. Cook until salami begins to brown and cheese is melting, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, place a slice of cheese on each roll – face up – and broil for about 30 seconds.
Flip salami stack – tomato side down – onto beef/onion stack; place entire stack on bottom roll; top with desired amount of ‘special’ sauce; then add top roll.
This recipe is for one cholesterol and fat-laden plate of ballpark goodness. (For crying out loud, cut the damn thing in half and share!)