There is a sandwich shop here in the Chicago area that I fell in love with back in 1995. Since then, Potbelly Sandwich Shop has expanded a ton (no pun intended), but I remember visiting the original Potbellys on Lincoln Avenue for a lunch date with a friend, waiting in a long line and thinking,”what’s all the fuss about?” Then I took that first bite.
Their sandwiches are amazing, on a crunchy, yet chewy French roll with quality ingredients and cheese that the sandwich makers run through a hot oven, toasting it to perfection. The cheese gets all bubbly and then you add whatever toppings and condiments you desire.
It’s no wonder that in the fifteen years since tasting that first sandwich, Potbellys has been springing up all over the country and their stock has gone public.
Maybe you’ve had the pleasure of trying one of these amazing oven grinders, but if not, you can make a darn close version at home. It will never be Potbellys, but it is really good all the same.
You could broil your sandwich, open faced style, adding lettuce and oil & vinegar afterwards, but I like to wrap mine up in foil and bake it in a super hot oven until everything comes together and the bread gets crispy on the outside.
What you need to make a good oven grinder at home:
French rolls (Turano makes a good roll, but any kind of French sub roll will work)
sliced meats or veggies (I used low sodium turkey and ham)
sliced cheeses (I used American, but you can use any combo of cheeses you like)
brown mustard (this is key — no other mustard compares!!!)
thinly sliced pickles
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and begin to assemble sandwiches. On the inner sides of each roll, spread on mayo and brown mustard (enough to coat both sides liberally). Layer on enough cheese to cover the bread, then add a few tomatoes and thin sliced pickles. Lastly, layer on your meat or veggies. I only use about 1-2 slices of each meat, but if you like a lot — go for it. You can add more cheese on top of the meat or veg if you prefer.
Close each sandwich and tightly roll them individually in foil to create a nice, snug little package of goodness.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Cut in half and serve hot!