The theory behind a Sausage Parmigiana sandwich is simple - cook up some sausage, cover it with marinara sauce, melt some mozzarella and Parmigiana cheese on it and you should be good to go. Right?
Wrong. Not by a long shot. In my book that's a step above a frozen Hot Pocket, and barely at that.
No, I prefer to taste a bit Italy in every bite, enjoying a sausage that snaps, and then melts in your mouth. And there's only one way to get that end result - Old School.
After the sausage is cut, I mix it into my home-made sauce which by now, is hot and bubbly. At this point, you want it to continue cooking over low heat for another 40 minutes. That's right, another 40 minutes. We doing old school here and that takes patience.
This additional 40 minutes of slow cooking allows the sausage to absorb all the elements of the sauce and actually tenderizes the meat, and well as allowing sweet pork juices to permeate the sauce. It just raises the sandwich to a whole different level.
After 40 minutes of slow cooking has elapsed, transfer two links to a skillet. Over medium heat, spoon a nice amount of sauce into the skillet, as well as some parsley and a few red pepper flakes.
On top of that, put a handful of shredded mozzarella on each link and some grated Parmigiana Reggiano and tightly cover, allowing the cheeses to steam and melt not only onto the sausage, but into the sauce as well. Perhaps 3 minutes at most and the cheeses should be nicely melted.
Believe it or not, I find the easiest way to get the job done perfectly is using an inexpensive disposable broiler pan. I like them because they allow heat to circulate around the sausage and its a no wash cleanup.
I put about 1/4" of water in the bottom of the pan. This not only prevents sticking , but seems to offer a steaming element to the sausage which leads to a moister, snappier end result when cooked.
Pop it into a pre-heated oven set to 350º and let it cook for 40 minutes.
While the sausage is cooking, I heat my home-made sauce on low to bring it up to a slow, bubbly roll.
When the sausage finishes cooking for 40 minutes, I remove them from the oven and slice them in half.
Depending on the size links you've bought, they should be approximately 4" long per sausage link after being cut.
You actually want two links per sandwich.
When making the sandwich, only a hard, crusty roll will do. Italian bread, French bread, or perhaps a baguette or even focaccia.
Place the two links onto the roll and spoon the entire skillet of sauce onto the sandwich. The sauce should be thick and rich by now and maintain its integrity by not running off the sandwich (as seen in the photo below).
And an hour and twenty minutes later, THAT'S an old school Sausage Parm like you've never tasted - Mangia!!