by Jan 8, 2022

Long before Allen became my husband, he introduced me to the Grinder: first at Bell’s Pizza in East Lansing. Then, we moved to the Ann Arbor area (with a few stops in between for teaching jobs in Battle Creek and Alma). Allen was so happy when we discovered another tiny little Bell’s Pizza, nestled on a little triangle of prime real estate on south campus. We happily trekked “into town” from somewhat rural Manchester just to get our Grinder fix on a somewhat regular basis.

In case you are unfamiliar with this type of sandwich, a Grinder is a type of Italian Sub Sandwich, usually served hot. Rumor has it that the name came from the fact that the chewy Italian bread was piled high with meats, cheese and salad fixings. It had such a toothsome bite, you had to grind your way through it.

There are now multiple versions of Grinders. We liked the traditional version best. This version had ham, turkey, salami, provolone, shredded iceberg lettuce, and marinated onion/bell peppers/tomatoes. Stacked high with meats, cheese and fresh vegetables, it was kind of like a club sandwich on steroids. And it was always a messy–but thoroughly scrumptious– treat.

After the first kid was born, the trip for Grinders took much, much longer. Trips were more complicated by diaper bag, car seat, and happy, gurgling, noisy, messy baby. Then it became exponentially more difficult with the birth of the second child. It took more time, more complications and immense effort to load two kids and all the necessary paraphernalia into the car. It was no longer a “quick trip” into town.

So, of course, I developed the Kornow Version of Homemade-And-Just-As-Good-Maybe-Even-Better-Grinders. Sometimes, when I was really well organized and the kids were both healthy (no asthma problems). I’d get into my Julia Child mindset and would even make my own Italian Sub Buns. What I love about this bread, is that you can make it ahead of time before baking. You can form it into a loaf, sub bun, or roll shapes. Then refrigerate shaped buns for up to 24 hours before baking.  Watch for the recipe in an upcoming post.

You can make your own sub buns or buy slightly chewy buns and still experience a mouthwatering Grinder.

Marinate the thinly sliced bell peppers and onion in Italian dressing for at least an hour. Use your own favorite Italian dressing, home made or bottled. I make my own Italian dressing using a packaged seasoning like Good Seasons Zesty Italian using balsamic vinegar and less oil than stated on the package directions. Sometimes, I start this as much as day ahead, because the marinade just gets better and better after sitting awhile.

When ready to build your grinders, split a sub bun in half. Just use your fingers to scoop out a bit of bread to make a depression. This will help hold the layers of meat, vegetables and drippy dressing in place. Then spread some of the Italian dressing over each side of the bread. I like to put the bread crumbs in a freezer bag and save for future use when I need bread crumbs.

Layer the sliced turkey and provolone on one half of the bread. Then put the ham on the other side, and top with the salami. This way, when both sides of the grinder are under the broiler, the cheese melts at the same time that the salami curls and crisps up.

Watch carefully and don’t let anything burn. Remove the sandwiches from the broiler when the cheese is oozy and the salami just starts to curl and brown on the edges. Layer the marinated veggies on top of the cheese and put the fresh cut lettuce and tomato slices on the other side. I prefer a meaty Roma tomato for these sandwiches.

Now, the most difficult part comes next: quickly bring both sides of the sandwich together without losing too much of the toppings. Press down slightly, cut in half and open wide. Then listen to the satisfying slurping sounds of “umm and yumm” as everyone munches down.

These are perfect sandwiches for gatherings with friends when watching your favorite sports team. Honestly, I have cut way back on my meat consumption, but this Grinder brings out the carnivore in me again!


  • One medium onion, thinly sliced
  • One each red, yellow, and orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Italian dressing
  • 4 Sub buns, preferably Italian
  • 1 pound thinly sliced deli ham
  • 1 pound thinly sliced deli turkey
  • 1/2- 3/4 pound thinly sliced salami
  • 1/2 -3/4 pound thinly sliced provolone cheese
  • Iceberg lettuce, cut into shreds
  • 2-3 fresh tomatoes, preferably Roma, thinly sliced

Marinate the sliced peppers and onion in Italian dressing for at least an hour.  If you have time, add the dressing to the peppers and onions as much as a day ahead of time.  Refrigerate until about hour before prepping the sandwiches. 

Slice the buns in half and scoop out some of the bread filling with your fingers or a fork, leaving about 1/2 inch all around the edge.  Freeze the crumbs for later use when needed

Drizzle Italian dressing on both sides of the buns, spread evenly.  Layer the sliced turkey and cheese on the bottom half, and the ham and salami on the other half.  Place sandwiches under the broiler and cook until the cheese melts and the salami slices start to brown on the edges and curl up. 

Remove sandwiches from the broiler.  Use a slotted spoon to add the pepper/onion mixture on top of the cheesy side.  Layer the lettuce and tomatoes on the other side 

Quickly close the two sides together.  Slice in half and enjoy. 

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