I’ve never been to Rhode Island. I now have a reason to go.
Mrs. Crappy has a subscription to Cook’s Country magazine and we received a new issue last week. The magazine publishes an index of sorts on back cover, and as soon as I looked at the new one, I saw something I knew I had to make right away: a big batch of Rhode Island Dynamites.
The magazine explained that the sandwiches are a staple of Woonsocket; they’re a bit like Sloppy Joes, but spicier and with a turn towards an Italian flavor profile — in other words, right smack in my wheelhouse.
I can’t link to the Cook’s Country recipe, because they require a subscription; instead, I’ll take you through the modified version I made yesterday.
What you need:
- 2 pounds ground beef (the magazine suggests 85/15)
- 3 tablespoons water
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 1 tablespoon jarred hot cherry peppers, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon brine from the jarred cherry peppers
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
- A bag of deli rolls (6-inch sub rolls are the traditional thing)
What you do:
1) Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven, medium-high heat. Add the beef and water (which will help keep the meat tender). Season with salt and pepper (about a 1/4 teaspoon each). Break up beef with a spatula and brown until most of the liquid has cooked off and meat starts to sizzle.
2) Add onions and bell peppers, along with another 1/4 teaspoon shot of salt and pepper. Stir frequently until veggies are soft.
3) Add cherry peppers, brine, tomato paste, garlic, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes. Stir until paste is fully mixed with the rest of the stuff.
4) Stir in tomato sauce. Turn down the heat to a slow simmer. Stir occasionally. When it thickens to your taste, season with salt and pepper to taste, scoop into the rolls and serve.
What I could have done:
The original recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of the diced cherry peppers, 2 tablespoons of the brine and a full teaspoon of red pepper flakes, but Mrs. Crappy requested a less spicy version, so I toned it down to the measurements in the recipe above. I think I went too far in the safe direction and next time, I’ll go more towards the what the original recipe calls for. Another variation I’ll try: using sweet cherry peppers instead of hot.
Even with my overly-cautious modifications, the sandwiches are delicious — layers of flavor and, as I said before, nearly perfect for my comfort-food sensibilities. I will eat these again and again, even if I never actually make it to Rhode Island.