Harley's Sandwich Shops were a landmark in Baltimore from the 1940's to the 1980's when they were bought up by Shane's. I was really young when this happened, maybe 8 or 10 years old but I do remember the couple times I went with my grandparents to Harley's. He was well known for his subs and his burgers simmered in a secret sauce, a recipe I'll get to another time, but it was his jazz show on local Baltimore radio that really made him famous.
Harley Brinsfield served in the Merchant Marine and it was there that he claimed to come up with his recipes. His subs had more in common with a New Orleans Po' Boy sandwich than the subs we are familiar with today and he added a splash of his red sauce to them, the same sauce used to simmer his burgers. He started in 1940 in Lexington Market selling his sandwiches and soon he started opening a chain of shops around Baltimore and Maryland. His success lived on until he sold his stores to Shane's and went into retirement. Shane's survived until the 90's when they finally succumbed to changing tastes.
Harley's recipes are almost all lost to time now, maybe some of the surviving cooks who worked there might know the secrets but we have some clues and for those of us who went there we remember the taste of the food. Now the other day I was playing around with making tuna salad and I tried a couple things differently from the way I normally make it. I set it in the ref and a couple hours later made a tuna sub with it. Oh man! I was taken back to the days of my youth and having a Harley's Tuna Sub. Now I'll let you decide if I came close to the original recipe, I was a kid back then and I may be looking at this from a wrong angle but even if it's not the recipe, it's a really good tuna salad and my tribute to one of the greatest characters to come out of Baltimore.
Harley's Sandwich Shop Style Tuna Salad
1 Can Tuna In Water, drained
1/4C Minced Red Onion
1/4tsp Garlic Powder
3/4tsp Mustard Powder
1/2tsp Celery Salt
1/3C Pickle Relish
1/2C Duke's Mayonnaise
4 drops Tabasco
1/4-1/3C Panko Breadcrumbs
Mix all ingredients until well blended, you can use a mixer as you want the final consistency to be well mixed and less chunky than modern tuna salad. Let sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours so the flavors can meld.
I'll give you 2 ways to serve it, the first is the Harley's Style Sub and the second is a Tuna Club of the style served at Double TT Diner or the old White Coffee Pot Restaurants.
For a sub:
Cut sub roll and add shredded lettuce and thinly sliced tomato, fill with as much tuna salad as desired and serve.
For a tuna club:
Fry 2 pieces of bacon crisp and drain meanwhile toast 3 slices of white bread lightly and slice tomato thin. Start with a piece of toast, lettuce, tuna salad, toast, sliced tomato, tuna salad again, bacon and top with last piece of toast. Cut into quarters crosswise and keep each quarter together with a frilly toothpick.