Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pittsburgh lunch

Around once a year or so I get a hankerin' for some good old Pittsburgh style grub. Ok, I don't really know what a hankerin' is, but according to Schoolhouse Rock, one can hanker for a hunk o' cheese. Or was that a PSA? Usually it's in the midst of football season when the weather is chilly and some stick-to-your-ribs stuff is just what the doctor ordered.

Football season is long gone, and the next one is still months away, but I was in the mood for good, old-fashioned Pittsburgh-style Ham Barbecue sandwiches the other day. I made them for dinner the other night with pierogies, complete with sour cream on the side. Feeling guilty about stuffing my kids with calories, carbs, and cholesterol, not to mention processed meats and not a whole grain in sight, I made some steamed broccoli on the side.

There were no pierogies leftover because that would be wrong. There is a law about that in Pittsburgh. Thou shalt not leave uneaten pierogies at the table. They must all be consumed - no matter what. Waistline and diet complaints will not be tolerated.

I made enough of the Ham Barbecue concoction for Zachary's lunch the next day and sent him off to school with a potato roll and two mini corn muffins on the side. I don't even want to contemplate the fat, sodium, sugar, and carbohydrate count on this lunch, but it sure was good.

Ham Barbecue Sandwiches
1 12-oz can of Coca-Cola - use Classic Coke, not diet
1 cup of Heinz ketchup
1 lb of Isaly's chipped ham *
6 hamburger rolls

Combine Coke, ketchup, and ham in a saucepan over medium heat, simmer. Serve on rolls.

* Chipped ham is product found in western Pennsylvania and surrounding areas. I used a similar product available in NJ called Smithfield Chopped ham and had it shaved. Even turkey ham will work.

If this sounds cloyingly sweet, it is, but it's also really, really good. There are other versions of this recipe that are more involved with cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard, but this one is quick and easy. You can also make this with your favorite bottled barbecue sauce. Ham barbecues are a Pittsburgh classic, served at picnics, potlucks, tailgates, and lunch counters for years and years. Potato chips and a pickle are the classic accompaniment. I like the rolls toasted and coleslaw or potato salad on the side. This also works really well in a slow-cooker, the longer it cooks the better.

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