Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Midwestern Stromboli Pizza King Style - EverydayDonna's Recipe

Do you get tired of cooking sometimes?  All the time?  Never?  Some of the above?  None of the above?  I love to cook, but sometimes on Friday evening I like to take a break and make something easy.  We have had a guest staying with us for the last two weeks.  By Friday evening, I was shot.  I had been cooking up a storm and I needed a break, but of course we had to eat.  So, I decided to make one of our favorites - strombolis.

Do you like strombolis?  Ever had a stromboli?  Don't confuse them with a calzone.  They are not the same.  We LOVE these sandwiches, but we like the midwestern style stromboli.  We are from Evansville, Indiana, and there is a pizza shop that has been in operation as long as we have been married which is 43 years.  Yeah, I know, forever.  The shop is called Pizza King and my research showed that there are Pizza King's all over Indiana, but I could not find if they were franchised or owned by the same company or just had the same name.  Looked like the original Pizza King started in northern Indiana somewhere.  Interesting.  Anyway, besides awesome pizza they have fabulous sandwiches - hot ham and cheese, strombolis, and Texas barbecue.  They are always wrapped in aluminum foil and baked.  You can get the stroms and Texas barbecues anywhere from mild to "blow the top of your head off" hot.  But, they are SOOOOOOOO good.  I miss them here in good old Nashville.  So, what did I do but create my own.  Sure, why not?

Here is a little history on the stromboli.  They are an American sandwich (which we all think is Italian, but isn't) usually made in a pizza type dough with Italian meats and cheese, layered and rolled, baked and then sliced.  Midwestern style strombolis are not like that.  They are made in a crusty roll like a baguette, or on a deli style roll which is what I used.  Mine has sausage, pepperoni, onions, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, delicious.

Why are they called strombolis?  Good question.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say.


Stromboli is a type of turnover filled with various cheeses, typically mozzarellaItalian meats such as salamicapicola and bresaola or vegetables. The dough traditionally used is Italian bread dough.
A stromboli is made with a square shaped pizza dough that can be topped with any pizza toppings and is then rolled into a log and baked. Many American pizza shops serve a stromboli using pizza dough that is folded in half with fillings, similar to a calzone.
There are some theories regarding the origin of the stromboli in the United States. Romano's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria claims to have originated it in 1950 in EssingtonTinicum Township, just outside of Philadelphia, by Nazzareno Romano. According to Romano, a friend suggested he name it after the then recently released movie, Stromboli.[1] Another claim is that the stromboli was invented in 1954 by Mike Aquino at Mike's Burger Royale in Spokane, Washington. Aquino is also supposed to have named the sandwich after the movie.


So, we don't really know exactly where this sandwich originated, we just know we are happy that it originated somewhere even though ours isn't made this way.  Ha!  Now, about making these delicious sandwiches.  They are really super easy and I guess you could use your favorite ingredients, but here is how I made mine which is very close to the Pizza King stromboli.  Here is what you need.

1 pound milk bulk sausage
1 pound hot Italian sausage (casing removed if using links)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe's tomato basil)
about 30 pepperonis chopped (stack and chop, makes it easier)
1 8 ounce block mozzarella cheese, grated
3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
6 deli type rolls
olive oil
6 sheets of aluminum foil, about 12-14 inches long

1 baking sheet

Brown the sausages and onions in a saute' pan.  Drain any fat from the pan.  Add the garlic and chopped pepperoni when the sausage is browned.   Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes.  Stir until thoroughly mixed and heated through.

Brush the top and bottom of a deli roll with some good olive oil.  Put the sliced deli roll in the middle of a piece of foil, fill with sausage mixture.  Put several heaping hands full of cheese on the sausage.  Bring the edges of the foil together and roll down to the sandwich and roll the ends up.

When all the rolls have been filled and wrapped, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree  oven for about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.  Unwrap and enjoy.
There was enough meat left for another 6 strombolis.  It could easily be frozen and used another time.  I used it in a bolognese sauce later in the week.  Yum.

This sandwich is "just right" spicy as Dan said.  Not too hot, not too mild.  Goldilocks would approve. Look at all that yumminess.  If you like really spicy food, use all hot sausage and add all the red pepper flakes you want.  If you like bell peppers, add some to the sausage mix while cooking.  You can add what you like, it's your choice but this is the traditional  "Evansville" way.

When the strombolis are unwrapped, the rolls will be crusty and crunchy on the outside and the filling is spicy and cheesy good.  So easy, so good.  If you have never had one, now is the time to try making these.

 The West Side Nut Club sponsors THE Fall Festival in Evansville every year during the first full week of October.  (Google it, it's so interesting)  There are hundreds of food booths which all raise money for non profits.  Thousands of people attend every year.  One of the most popular booths year after year consistently is the Tau Kappa Epsilon Stromboli booth from the University of Southern Indiana.  Everyone is willing to stand in line for some time just to snag a few of their delicious strombolis which are made this way.  Many people go day after day during the week to eat these stroms because they just can't get enough.  Now, you don't have to wait until the first week of October, or even have to go out to Pizza King to enjoy one of these fabulous sandwiches.  Wait, what am I thinking?  You may not have anywhere that makes this type stromboli.  If you don't live in Indiana, if you don't have a Pizza King, you can now make your own extraordinary midwestern style stromboli.  Now you will know what you have been missing all these years.  Enjoy!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Every region of the country has their own food specialties that you grow accustomed to and love.  This is one of ours.  What is something you love from your area?  donna








34 comments:

  1. I am so excited to find this! I grew up in Evansville and there is nothing like a Pizza King stromboli! I live in Maine now, lots of Italians, but no strombolis like in Evansville. Can't wait to try this recipe. Everytime I'm home to visit I have to have one. Thank you!!

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    1. I live in Evansville, the recipe off a little bet. At Pizza King the sauce is tomato paste,water,garlic .the cheese needs italian seasoning blend in it.on top of the stromboli add garlic butter after it done cooking.

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  2. Mary Lawrence, have you tried the recipe yet. Just curious what you think,,, is it similar to Pizza King?

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  3. i have one anytime i go home i live in nashville,tennessee now for the last 10yrs i,ve had this calzone that they call a stromboli they need to go to my home town of evansville,indiana and get a taste of a real stromboli from pizza king and tell me whats up after they can stop chewing and ummmmmming! be back home soon to get my stromboli and back to tennessee i go cant wait

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  4. OMG...can't wait to try this recipe. I too currently live in Nashville, TN but was born and raised in Evansville, IN. My wife is always telling me we should open up a Pizza King-like shop here and wow the Mid South area with the taste of the E'ville STROM!

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  6. I am glad you posted this. Having Grown up in Newburgh, I have been experimenting to find a recipe like the Pizza King Stromboli but havent found it yet. cant wait to try this. Been in Texas for about 35 years & there is definately nothing like these wonderful sandwiches down here.

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  7. Wow. I keep trying to post but it's not working. I'm going to try one more time: I used to work at a Pizza King here in the greater Lafayette area. We have several Pizza Kings in our region and they're owned by several different people so I know what I'm about to discuss isn't an ownership thing, but perhaps a regional thing? Anyway, strombolis here are baked open-faced, with foil underneath and up the sides (none of the PK sandwiches here are baked wrapped in foil), which is later used to wrap the sandwich if it's to-go. One half is bread, sausage (not Italian, just plain pork, the same sausage you get on their pizzas), onions, sauce; the other half is bread with a generous helping of mozzarella (crumbled, not grated). It's baked about 10 minutes or until all ingredients are hot and the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned. Top flipped onto bottom, cut, and served on the foil (on a plate, of course) (or wrapped in foil if for take-out). Yum! Thanks for sharing your own memories and recipe. Making one tonight :)

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    1. PS PK cheese came with oregano mixed in. No seasonings in the sauce, which was just tomato paste and water. Not exactly trade secrets but interesting!

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    2. Singing in the dark, I used your suggestions and added a few more of my own. Regular sausage, onions, cheese and a lightly spiced tomato sauce. Put those ingredients on the bun and then in the oven. Once it comes out, if you brush the top bun with butter it makes an exact replica of the Evansville, In Pizza King Stromboli. Thanks for the help. I have tried many recipes that claim to be the Pizza King Stromboli but they have all let me down. I am happy to say that this one is the only recipe I will be using from here on.

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  8. Also an E'ville transplant (Go Panthers) looking for a recipe as good as TKE's.
    I've had friends try to ship them overnight to Vancouver but the get a bit slimy.
    Thank you so much!

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  9. Another E'ville transplant living in Lexington, KY after graduating from Reitz (4A 2015 basketball runner-up champions) and graduating from IU many years ago. Never had a Pizza Hut Stromboli but had my fair share of Stroms at IU which were made the same way, loose meat and cheese on a deli style bun. Good! You have given me the inspiration to try my hand at it. Thanks.

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  10. Thanks for posting the recipe. I grew up in Kokomo, I always liked PK's Stomboli better than pizza. I've been in Chicago for the past 40+ years and have never found anything to compare. I just asked my (adult) kids to make this for me for Father's Day.

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  11. Just remembered - the Kokomo Pizza King put small banana peppers on the bread before loading it with the mix.

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  12. So glad I saw this on Pinterest . I went to the University of Evansville in the early 70's. These sandwiches were always a treat and I have never found any like them since. I always tried to make them, but maybe this will help me tweek my recipe ! I can pretend I am in the dorm on a Friday night again ! Thanks.

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  13. OMG! I can't wait to try this recipe...I'm also an Evansville native transplanted to Nashville area and have been craving these for years! I usually try to make the Fall Festival when possible just so I can eat all the good foods there but don't always make it! Thanks for sharing this! Ready for a true Strom!

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  14. Well, it looks like I'm in good company! I lived in Evansville for 7 yrs and fell in love with PK Stroms, and like everyone else on here, haven't been able to reproduce these heavenly sandwiches. I've been back in South Texas for 12 yrs now, and while we have amazing food here, there's no Pizza King! My dad comes down to visit every year (he still lives in Newburgh) and offers to fly one down to me, but it just wouldn't be the same. I was craving one so bad last night that I figured I would google the sandwich and see what I could find, and there you were!! It's funny that so many people have searched for a similar sandwich and Evansville/ Newburgh PK's are the ones everyone remembers and wants!! Thank you so much for posting this! Guess what my family is having for dinner tonight!!

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  15. The mixture is spot on and tastes awesome. The problem I run into is finding the perfect bread that is similar to the bread used at Pizza King. I am still searching...

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  16. Wow, and here I thought I was the only one (transplant missing PK Stromboli)! I've lived all across the country and now live right where Stromboli's were "invented" according to the above (I work right next to Essington in Ridley Park, PA). I love the strombolis here but I'm craving a "real" one. Thanks and cant wait to try it!

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    1. oh yeah, forgot to mention for all you foodies... there's a sandwich here that is amazing. Its call an Inside Out... its a deep fried calzone. Anyone who is from the Midwest or midsouth knows that merely frying anything turns it to Nirvana.

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  17. Praise God for this! I am from Evansville now living in Atlanta and crave a Stromboli all too often. I just got my shipment of grippos and I'm making this tonight!

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    1. Grippoos BBQ are the bomb! I order online frequently since we cannot get them down here in South Carolina

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  19. Another EvansvillIan here (Minnesota) my wife mentioned Stomboli the other day; could not find anything close. Went to the net and found a recipe using beef, made several tasted ok. UT had I looked further I would have found this post. Thanks for posting recipe and the story behind the sandwich. Be home in July will have to stop by and give you credit. Bears "71"

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  20. Another EvansvillIan here (Minnesota) my wife mentioned Stomboli the other day; could not find anything close. Went to the net and found a recipe using beef, made several tasted ok. UT had I looked further I would have found this post. Thanks for posting recipe and the story behind the sandwich. Be home in July will have to stop by and give you credit. Bears "71"

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  21. Spent my college years a couple of more in Evansville and nothing like the Pizza King Stromboli. ( my husband was in trouble one night for coming home so late and woke me up to a hot crusty Strom from Pizza Kind and we didn't have a bad word that night.) Just made them from your recipe here in Hawaii. I did the banana pepper in the bottom, filled with the meat mix and cheese. I put the meat through a small chopper I have had for 3 years to get a pretty fine sausage /onion mix, which mimics the sausage crumble someone pointed out. Because Hawaii in general doesn't like heat, I used half the crushed red peppers. Also cooked them open on the top. Only think I would do different next time is but on one side the sausage and the other the cheese. People at our home today raved about this and I gotta say I felt like I had a real Evansville Stromboli.

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  22. Spent my college years and a couple of more in Evansville and nothing like the Pizza King Stromboli. ( my husband was in trouble one night for coming home so late and woke me up to a hot crusty Strom from Pizza King and we didn't have a bad word that night.) Just made them from your recipe here in Hawaii. I did the banana pepper in the bottom, filled with the meat mix and cheese. I put the meat through a small chopper to get a pretty fine sausage /onion mix, which mimics the sausage crumble someone pointed out. Because Hawaii in general doesn't like heat, I used half the crushed red peppers. Also cooked them open on the top. Only think I would do different next time is but on one side the sausage and the other the cheese. People at our home today raved about this and I gotta say I felt like I had a real Evansville Stromboli.

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  23. Bless you....Im from Connersville Indiana but I've lived in Louisiana for 9 years. I was getting so desperate I was just on their website looking at shipping prices. Lol

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  24. I didn't know that a calzone was a stromboli!! I ordered on at a new restaurant in town and it wasn't a stromboli, I could have cried. Then I looked on line and couldn't find a true PK recipe. Thank you

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    1. I am from Evansville as well. Just slightly older than how long you have been married at 48 1/2 LOL. Tau Kappa Epsilon is actually a University of Evansville Frat not USI. They do make the best Strom at the Fall Festival....and Pizza King is the best Strom EVER!

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  25. My husband grew up in Evansville eating the Stromblois from Pizza King. I myself have had a few. He is retired now and as we live south of Tucson we hardly ever get back home. Tonight I surprised him with this take on the srombli! A big hit!!! Thank you for sharing Donna. We will be tweeking it to make it more like he remembers but this was a great start.

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  26. I live in Cincy now, but crave this every time i go back to visit Dad in Newburgh. Now only if i could find a good can of Sterling Beer or at least a Double Cola to go with it.

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  27. I also loved the PK Sub sandwich I used to get in Muncie. Does anyone have that recipe?

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  28. Sounds great! FYI, Sam's Pizzeria on Delaware St in Evansville is the place to get a strom. Once I had theirs, I've never bothered with Pizza King again. Seriously, they're that much better. (opinion, obviously, but check it out for yourself)

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