Grow, Cook, Drink: Thin Man Sandwich Shop

Sherri and Dan Leiphart rely on a near-identical palate and ‘adventurous’ combinations of ingredients to compose the Thin Man Sandwich Shop menu.




photo by Laura Petrilla
 

 

Editor’s Note: Each month, Pittsburgh food and drinks writer Hal B. Klein will explore what inspires our region’s chefs, farmers and others who create wonderful things to eat and drink.

 

Sherri Leiphart, co-owner of the Thin Man Sandwich Shop, has an insider secret that will make your next sandwich pop: “Never underestimate the power of lemon juice.”

She and her husband Dan opened their gourmet sandwich shop in the Strip District in February 2013. It was a risky move to leave their jobs as co-executive chefs of Isabela on Grandview to serve goat curry, venison and roasted parsnip sandwiches to a city so proud of its iconic sandwich of lunchmeat topped with French fries.

“We were terrified at the beginning that people wouldn’t be ready for our type of sandwiches,” says Dan. Pittsburgh was ready. In fact, says Sherri, “We found the more adventurous we are, the more popular the sandwich.”



 

What’s the secret behind a Thin Man sandwich? To start, Sherri says, “we have almost an identical palate.”

Still, an identical palate doesn’t mean an identical process. Much like the legendary musical duos of Rodgers and Hammerstein or Timberlake and Timbaland, the couple’s best work comes from balancing each other’s strengths. “We keep each other in check,” says Dan.

Dan is modernist, influenced by Asian flavors and a “recipe guy.” Sherri sticks to classic technique, is influenced by French and Middle Eastern cuisine and is happy to wing it.

Arguments are infrequent but do happen. In the end, “one of us will cave,” says Sherri. “We trust that we’re going to get to the same place,” adds Dan.



 

Inspiration for sandwiches can come any time. Sometimes a sandwich — as with a recent hit, butter chicken — is a deliberate reinvention of an old recipe from Isabela. Inspiration even strikes while they’re watching TV. “We can be sitting on the couch for hours watching TV and then suddenly, ‘What if we used chickpeas?’ And the next thing you know we’re conceptualizing a sandwich,” says Sherri.

Back to that lemon: A hit of acidity is an essential component of a phenomenal sandwich. “Bread covers up a lot of flavors,” Sherri says. Although she and Dan consider bread to be an ingredient, they also know they have to add extra layers of seasoning — such as lemon — to make every other flavor pop.

Here’s one more tidbit from Thin Man: Don’t get too attached to your creations. Although three Signature Thin Man sandwiches live forever, every other option’s time on the menu is fleeting. “We are usually very happy when it comes time to take a sandwich off,” says Sherri. That means there’s room to create a new one.



 

  Thin Man Pimento Cheese with Grilled Scallions and Bibb Lettuce

Makes four sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 8 ounces pimentos or roasted red peppers
  • 1 tablespoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon other hot sauce (habanero if possible)
  • 8 slices thick-cut white bread
  • Grilled or roasted scallions
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce

 

Directions
1. Place all ingredients except for bread, scallions and lettuce into a bowl.
2. Blend contents with electric mixer at low speed until ingredients are just starting to come together. 
3. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for 1 minute.
4. Toast the bread lightly. Spread a thick layer of cheese mixture onto 4 slices of bread.
5. Top with grilled or roasted scallions, Bibb lettuce and other 4 slices.
 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Review: Salt of the Earth

Review: Salt of the Earth

Brandon Fisher is the latest chef behind Salt of the Earth’s modern-American dishes.
2014 Pittsburgher of the Year Award: The Fred Rogers Company

2014 Pittsburgher of the Year Award: The Fred Rogers Company

Sharing the DNA of the father of children’s television, the Fred Rogers Company reinvigorates a beloved legacy while creating new hit characters and content that help children to grow, giggle and learn.
Update: The McMutrie Sisters' Mission 5 Years After the Haiti Earthquake

Update: The McMutrie Sisters' Mission 5 Years After the Haiti Earthquake

Jamie and Ali McMutrie were PM's 2010 Pittsburghers of the Year after airlifting 54 youngsters to safety. Now, they have forged a relationship with a major global player to continue their work to prevent struggling Haitian families from surrendering children to orphanages.
PittGirl's New Year's Resolutions for Pittsburghers

PittGirl's New Year's Resolutions for Pittsburghers

Four ways to make the city even better in 2015.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Destined to be a Classic: Pittsburgh Penguins 'Christmas Vacation' Parody Video

Destined to be a Classic: Pittsburgh Penguins 'Christmas Vacation' Parody Video

Evegeni Malkin is priceless at the end.
This Weekend: Chris Jamison & the Steelers, Pens & Ugly Sweaters, Mayor Undercover

This Weekend: Chris Jamison & the Steelers, Pens & Ugly Sweaters, Mayor Undercover

Some cool things to watch out for this weekend in the ’Burgh.
#Oops — Or, About that Headline . . .

#Oops — Or, About that Headline . . .

Once in a while, no good deed goes unpunished.
Now Online: Two New Cameras to Keep an Eye on Pittsburgh’s Bald Eagles

Now Online: Two New Cameras to Keep an Eye on Pittsburgh’s Bald Eagles

A Murrysville security company has installed the new cameras, which provide sharper images of the Hays eagles.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Review: Salt of the Earth

Review: Salt of the Earth

Brandon Fisher is the latest chef behind Salt of the Earth’s modern-American dishes.
2014 Pittsburgher of the Year Award: The Fred Rogers Company

2014 Pittsburgher of the Year Award: The Fred Rogers Company

Sharing the DNA of the father of children’s television, the Fred Rogers Company reinvigorates a beloved legacy while creating new hit characters and content that help children to grow, giggle and learn.
Update: The McMutrie Sisters' Mission 5 Years After the Haiti Earthquake

Update: The McMutrie Sisters' Mission 5 Years After the Haiti Earthquake

Jamie and Ali McMutrie were PM's 2010 Pittsburghers of the Year after airlifting 54 youngsters to safety. Now, they have forged a relationship with a major global player to continue their work to prevent struggling Haitian families from surrendering children to orphanages.
PittGirl's New Year's Resolutions for Pittsburghers

PittGirl's New Year's Resolutions for Pittsburghers

Four ways to make the city even better in 2015.
Penguins Profile: The Fearless Patric Hornqvist

Penguins Profile: The Fearless Patric Hornqvist

The Penguin winger fits in easily with the team, thanks to his infectious personality and his mad dedication to confounding opposing goaltenders.
Rev It Up: This South Side Pittsburgh Loft is Unique and Unusual

Rev It Up: This South Side Pittsburgh Loft is Unique and Unusual

This three-story home melds all of the comforts of home with the sleek look and efficiency of industrial design.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags