You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~My Copycat Primanti Brothers Pitts-burger Sandwich~

IMG_4297On occasion I go to Pittsburgh.  Just like every city there's plenty of sights to see, entertainment to be had, and, of course, lots of food.  While Pittsburgh offers its share of show-offy fine-dining experiences, The Steel City, in my opinion, is known more for its blue collar, working man's fare. One of the most well-known, and most popular examples is Primanti Brothers -- trendsetters in sandwich making since 1933.  When in Pittsburgh, you'll also notice that eating "alla Primanti's", "in-the-style Primanti's" (huge, overstuffed sandwiches topped with slaw and fries) surrounds you.

Pittsburgh_Strip_District_Primanti_BrosNow a chain, the original shop is located at 46 18th Street, know as Pittsburgh's Strip District -- a stretch along the Allegheny River once filled with factories, warehouses and produce yards.  Brothers Joe, Dick and Stanley opened their diner to serve the late-night and early morning workers loading and unloading fish, fruit and vegetables, as well a the long lines of incoming and outgoing truckers carrying the products to outlying destinations. 

IMG_4235The idea behind their signature sandwiches (which were ordered out-loud by the customer from a list on a chalkboard, by number not name to save time), was to combine the sandwich with the side-dish, overstuffing both into hoagie rolls, then tightly wrapping them in newspaper, so they could be handed off to each customer as they came off the line.  This was devised to accommodate the truckers, so they could drive with one hand, while eating with the other.

IMG_4247 IMG_4264Primanti Brothers puts fries and coleslaw on all of their sandwiches. On our first visit to their local Happy Valley restaurant, Joe and I ordered and split the "The Pitts-burger Big Bro". It consisted of (double the meat of The Pitts-burger Classic) two nicely-and-noticeably seasoned, provolone-topped, ample-sized all-beef patties, tomato slices, plus, skin-on real-not-frozen French fries and their signature vinegar-based cole slaw, served on thick-sliced Italian bread (not a hoagie roll). It was nicely presented, manageable without being overly messy, and we both enjoyed it a lot (I want to try their pizza next), but, I won't lie, the 'burger patties were a bit dry, and truth told: I'd much rather my fries skin-off and served to the side.  But, it's all about the experience, right?

Part One:  Make the coleslaw first -- if possible, the day before.

IMG_4281Primani's 'slaw is vinegar-based and basic.  Seriously folks.  Think basic. This slaw is an unembellished monochromatic mixture of shredded green cabbage (no carrots, bell peppers or onions) -- 100% resemblant of the many variations of Pennsylvania Deutsch (the German speaking people of Pennsylvania) coleslaw recipes.  The dressing needs no special or fancy ingredients -- as far as I can tell, just green cabbage and a well-balanced dressing containing vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, a touch of celery seed, and some generic vegetable oil.  I add a tad of whole grain German-style mustard to my recipe, to stabilize it -- they might too.  Give this recipe a try -- it's damned close, and only takes 5 minutes.

IMG_4268For my easy copycat Primanti's coleslaw:

6  cups store-bought shredded green cabbage (10 ounces)

3  tablespoons each:  granulated sugar and white vinegar

1/2  teaspoon each: sea salt & coarse-grind black pepper

1/4  teaspoon celery seed

1  tablespoon whole-grain mustard

2  tablespoons vegetable oil

IMG_4269 IMG_4269 IMG_4269 IMG_4269~Step 1.  Place the shredded cabbage in a medium bowl.  In a 1-cup measuring container with a tight-fitting lid and pourer top, add the rest of the ingredients, as listed.  Put the lid on tight and vigorously shake the container, to thoroughly combine and emulsify the dressing.  Add all of the dressing to the cabbage.  Using a large slotted spoon, stir to thoroughly combine.  Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Overnight is best.  Yields 3 cups.

Part Two:  Make the seasoning & cook the 'burgers:

IMG_4264Primanti's 'burgers are indeed nicely-seasoned -- it's part of the whole taste-bud experience.  And, once again, the seasoning, like the slaw, is a basic mixture.  Seriously basic.  I chose to use my own all-purpose 'burger seasoning, which, contains inexpensive ingredients that everyone has on hand in their pantry.  Even though I can, I'm not going to do any 'burger bashing here.  I'm just going with my own 'burgers, made my own way, with fresh, not frozen beef patties.

Primanit's refers to their all-beef patties as hamburger steak.  On that theme, I like to use a 2:1 ratio of 85/15 (85% lean/15% fat) ground beef and food processor ground flank steak. Feel free to use all 85/15 ground beef -- they'll taste great, but the texture will be slightly different.

IMG_4661 IMG_4661 IMG_4661 IMG_4661 IMG_4670 IMG_4670 IMG_4670~Step 1.  Place 2 pounds ground beef (32 ounces)in a large bowl. Cut 1 pound flank steak (16 ounces) flank steak into 1 1/2" chunks.  Place the chunked steak in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade -- depending upon the size of the food processor, working in two batches may be necessary.  Using a series of 30 rapid on-off pulses, process/grind/mince the meat.  Place the ground steak in the bowl with the ground beef.  Using your hands, thoroughly combine the two.

IMG_4197For my Pitts-burger burgers:

3 pounds beef and steak mixture from above, or, 3 pounds lean ground ground beef (85/15), your choice, either tastes great

my all-purpose 'burger seasoning (recipe below)

12  slices provolone cheese

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39dd665200dFor my  'burger seasoning:

2  teaspoons fine sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

1/2  teaspoon onion powder

1  teaspoon beef bouillion

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39dd66f200dStir spices together. Makes a scant 2 Tbsp.

IMG_4201 2 IMG_4201 2 IMG_4201 2 IMG_4201 2 IMG_4201 2~Step 1. Using a kitchen scale, divide the meat into 6, 8-ounce portions. Form each portion into a 5"-5 1/2"- round disc, approximately 1/2" thick. Place three patties on each of two 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pans (the kind with corrugated bottoms).  Using your fingertips, lightly season tops of patties with the seasoning blend.  

IMG_4211 IMG_4211 IMG_4211 IMG_4211 IMG_4211 IMG_4211 IMG_4211~Step 2.  To broil the 'burgers to nice medium- medium-rare, place pans 5 1/2"-6" underneath preheated broiler for exactly 8 minutes.  Remove from oven, use a small spatula to flip patties over, lightly-season second sides and return to broiler for 8 more minutes.  Remove from oven, place two slices of provolone atop each patty and return to broiler just until cheese melts, less than 1 minute.

Note: Feel free to grill your burgers outdoors, or cook your burgers to your liking via your favorite method.  My instructions for cooking burgers in an electric skillet to imitate a flat-top griddle, or cooking burgers in a skillet on the stovetop are two other options.  That said, if you want to get these six, or even more burgers cooked at once without compromise, the broiler works great.

Bread + 'Burger + Fries + 'Slaw + Tomato = Pitts-burger.

IMG_4313Primanny's, as it is pronounced w/a fluent 'Burgh accent...

IMG_4336... is as influential to Pittsburgh's culinary history as Heinz ketchup & Klondike bars.  The entire shebang goes together.

IMG_4319My Copycat Primanti Brothers Pitts-burger Sandwich:  Recipe yields instructions to make 3 cups slaw and 6, large hearty sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  small bowl or ramekin; spoon; kitchen scale; 2, 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pans w/corrugated bottoms; small spatula; 1-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid and pourer top; large slotted spoon

6a0120a8551282970b0192ac404b1a970dCook's Note:  Looking for some pub grub to snack on while sipping your suds and waiting for your Pitts-burger?  Well, the 'Burgh made ~ Beer-Batter-Dipped Deep-Fried Zucchini Sticks ~ famous too. Heck, Pittsburgh is the land of deep-fried almost anything, and, I for one could make a meal of these things.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment