While I was working in restaurants on the east coast, there always seemed to be a few cooks in the kitchen from New York City. The NYC cooks always bragged up the food from back home. Hey! New York City food is worth bragging up!
Big Apple sub shops and Italian delicatessens always have local nickname food items on the menu. Local customers would know what a "Greaser" is in some neighborhoods. When a customer who was new to the area would ask "What is a Greaser?" The deli cook's answer always started with these words: "You don't know what a Greaser is?" Then the deli cook would shake his head in disbelief and disgust over the thought that somebody would not know what a Greaser is!
Traditionally, a greaser is made by placing large pieces of bell pepper and onions with an Italian sausage in deep fryer basket, and repeatedly dipping the ingredients in the hot oil. When the onions and peppers became caramelized with brown highlights and the sausage was cooked brown, the cook would empty the fryer basket directly onto an Italian sub roll without shaking off the excess grease.
The "Greaser" nickname for this sandwich is appropriate, because there was enough grease dripping from the sandwich to slick down the customers hair! Those greasy, slick, mens hair styles from the 1960's is what this sandwich was named after. You didn't need hair styling grease like Brylcreem or Vitalis, if you ate a greaser at an New York Italian sub shop!
Cheese was the only option on a Greaser sandwich. The only sliced sliced cheese options in old school New York Italian delis were provolone or mozzarella. When a naive customer asked for American cheese, the Italian deli cook usually shook his head in disgust and said something like "You actually eat that stuff?"
New York Greaser Recipe:
The deep frying method for making a New York Greaser can be done in a home kitchen, but the pan frying methods is good too.
Bake a large 8 to 10 ounce sweet Italian sausage in a 300 degree oven, till it becomes fully cooked. The Italian sausage should be pale colored, plump and juicy.
Split an Italian sub sandwich roll open lengthwise.
Place a few thin slices of fresh mozzarella cheese on the open Italian sub roll.
Bake the roll in a 300 degree oven, till the bread becomes crusty and the cheese becomes soft.
Heat a saute pan over medium/medium high heat.
Add 3 to 4 ounces of blended olive oil.
Add 1 small handful each of large cut pieces of red bell pepper and green bell pepper.
Add 1 small handful of large cut onion pieces.
When the peppers and onions become halfway cooked, add the whole baked Italian sausage.
Pan fry the sausage, peppers and onions, till all of the ingredients get brown highlights.
Use tongs or a fryer skimmer to remove the ingredients from the hot grease and place them directly on the melted mozzarella cheese on the toasted sub roll. (Do not drain off the excess grease! This is a New York Greaser!)
Place the sandwich on a plate and serve with some Italian pickled giardiniera. (Store bought Italian giardiniera is fine for this recipe.)
Sprinkle a little bit of dried oregano over the sandwich.
Serving a New York Greaser Sandwich with French Fries just might be considered to be "grease overkill!" Just forget about asking for French Fries in a New York Italian Deli or pizzeria. The response that you will get, is a New York Italian deli clerk shaking his head in disgust and saying "French Fries? What's the matter you? This is an Italian deli, not some kind of a French restaurant or something!"
Obviously, this New York Greaser sandwich is not a sandwich that is meant to be eaten everyday. A good "Greaser" sandwich does bring back memories of the good old days when food was fun! Delicious! Ciao Baby! ... Shawna