Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cheesesteaks

Born and raised in Philly, this girl knows a cheesesteak.

If you have never experienced a cheesesteak, you must do it in Philadelphia. If you ever see "Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich" on a menu in another city, stay away. A real cheesesteak will never be called a Philly Cheese Steak, nor will it have the word Sandwich in the title.



There are a few key things that make up an authentic cheesesteak. I had to teach them to Jon when he moved down here from Maine - I think some of our biggest fights were about what makes up a cheesesteak!


First, you have to use an Amoroso roll. And if you don't live in the area, unfortunately you can't get them. If you have to use another roll, make sure it's a thick, dense steak roll that is a bit tough on the outside, and soft on the inside.

Second, I don't care what anyone says, Cheez-Wiz has no place on a cheesesteak. The cheese must be provolone or American. The tourist spots in Philly can keep their Cheez-Wiz (oh yea, stay away from the tourist traps if you visit. Instead hit up a local corner pizza shop).

The steak - chopped, not a big slab of steak.

Toppings - peppers and onions. No mushrooms, no lettuce or tomato, just peppers and onions. And maybe hot peppers. If you want to get fancy, you can add pizza sauce for a pizzasteak.

Finally, the ends of your roll should be soggy and greasy halfway through enjoying your cheesesteak. You'll also have to learn "the lean" to eat the cheesesteak without getting it all over yourself - lean into the cheesesteak instead of trying to bring it up to your mouth.

Last night I made cheesesteaks at home following all of these rules.


Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced
  • Thinly sliced steaks. I used Landis steaks, made right here in PA and found in the frozen section. You can also get a rib eye, freeze it, and then thinly slice it. Paper thin. I used 6 slices per cheesesteak.
  • 2 Amoroso steak rolls
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions

  • Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil on a large griddle.
  • Add the onions and peppers; saute until the peppers are soft and lightly browned, and the onions are nicely browned/fried. Like this -

  • Remove the peppers and onions from the griddle and keep them warm.
  • Add 2 more tbsp oil to the griddle. Add the steaks, like this -

  • Brown the steaks on one side, keeping them whole. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Flip the steaks, and using 2 spatulas, start to shred the beef. You want a bunch of bite sized pieces of beef.
  • In the meantime, throw your rolls into a 350 oven for no more than 3 minutes to lightly toast them.
  • Once browned, separate the beef into 2 long piles that are the length and width of your rolls.
  • Top with provolone cheese, and throw a lid on top of each pile to get the cheese to melt.
  • Layer the peppers and onions onto one half of the roll; top with the meat. This way you will get a bit of onions and peppers in every bite.

I am very, very picky about my cheesesteaks, and I really outdid myself with these! Jon has also become picky about his cheesesteaks and he was impressed. They tasted exactly like a good cheesesteak that I'd get in a local Philly joint.

I served them with some fries, just store-bought frozen fries that I tossed with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder and baked until crispy.

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7 comments:

Woman with a Whisk said...

I'm totally in the mood for cheesesteaks now. Thanks for the tutorial!

Stephanie said...

Love your instructions for what is and is not a true philly cheesesteak! I've never been to philly and didn't know what made the cheesesteak authentic. Great post!

Stacy said...

Next time I'm in PA, I'm buying Amoroso rolls and coming back to New York to show NYers what a real cheesesteak tastes like! Looks delicious.

rlberry said...

Yum! There are 2 places in DC that just started getting daily deliveries of Amoroso rolls from Philly, so now I really want to check them out.

Joelen said...

cheesesteaks are on my menu this week but I didn't get to it. I hope to squeeze it in this weekend! Yours looks great and I love the tips!

Dante' said...

well I have to disagree. I am Italian, from PA (not philly) and I love my REAL cheeses but whiz on a cheeseteak is the best. What is and is not a true philly cheesesteak is a myth. I asked several born and raised philly friends of what one is and I got 11 different answers.
Nice article but I would have to say you, or no one is a real philly cheesesteak expert because there is no such thing. If you like it, eat it and if its good, then its real.
I can use Sauce, or gravy as another example. Us Italians have so many variations that no one is authentic, or philly style, or NY style etc. My family came from 2 different regions of Italy and the food from both regions are very different while somewhat similiar.

Mary Ellen said...

Hi Dante - thanks for your comment. I agree that you should eat what you like, and yes, there are many variations of cheese steaks. History shows that they were first introduced using chipped steak, good rolls, and either Provolone or American cheese, not whiz - whiz wasn't introduced until much later. Even the late owner of Geno's says that a "real" steak is with Provolone or American. Also, where I grew up in Philly, it was unheard of to use whiz. I guess I could say that a real Philly cheese steak to ME (and most of my family, friends, etc) is how I described. Thanks for posting and offering your opinion!!