You know how much I love them- it’s the one thing on which Joey Tribbiani and I would see eye to eye (probably the only thing. That guy is dumb as a box of rocks). My love runs deep and doesn’t discriminate, and it’s a good thing, too, because I’ve got two of them for you this week.
I really struggled with what to make from the Mid-Atlantics…I just wasn’t feeling the food there, despite numerous suggestions from my party people. However, there was one dish that I just had to make.
The Philly Cheesesteak.
Now, let me put it out there that this is MY version of the Philly Cheesesteak (“PCS”). I say this because I have multiple friends that hail from Philly and feel really passionately about Philly food, and they stand ready with pitchforks (ehm…Grape and Meatball) in the instance that I get it wrong. They’re not alone- I know that the PCS is serious business.
I was in Philly a few years ago for a work conference and I almost didn’t get one. I mean, I like sandwiches, but a cheesesteak is not something that I’d ever eat on the reg. After strong insistence from Grape, I had one and oh. my. God. OMG. I still dream of it, and thus it was worth recreating in my kitchen.
If you ever find yourself in Philly, heed Grape’s advice on the matter:
No need to go to Pat’s or Gino’s. Save yourself the trip to South Philly and hit up Sonny’s (very close to Liberty Bell/historic area) or Jim’s (on South Street). Order with cheese wiz and onions (order “one cheese steak wiz wit” and you’ll sound like a local. That means, with cheese wiz and with onions). No need for other toppings, and DO NOT get any cheese other than Wiz. If you order Provolone or some crap, you might as well have bought it at your local Subway restaurant. Blah.
So…bottom line is onions only; no peppers, no mushrooms, NO provolone. Beef, onions, whiz. That’s it.
As for the bread, I know from family experience that those on the East coast are quite specific about their “hoagie” rolls; a special type of sub roll that is crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside. I was actually going to head to Jersey Mike’s (yes, the sandwich chain) to buy a roll for my homemade sandwich (is that weird?), but lo and behold, my regular old grocer had special hoagie rolls in the deli section, so I went with that.
My sandwich is as simple as the original, and it really is all about the ingredients:
The beef: Some recipes I found out there used uncooked rib meat, but I simply went to my local deli and got sandwich roast beef. The kind I bought was very fresh and definitely on the medium-side, which was perfect, meaning that it didn’t overcook during the stir-fry like scramble. Also, I say 1/2 pound of meat per sandwich. Let’s do this right.
Cheese Whiz: Gotta go with the real deal congealed cheese product. Find it in the refrigerator section by the regular cheese (I know! I figured it’d be shelf stable…marketing ploy?).
Bread: Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside. If you live an an area where you can’t find an actual hoagie/sub roll, a nice crusty french roll will do the trick.
Seasoning: When I asked Grape if anything like garlic salt should be added, after a long pause, she said salt and pepper would do. The pause convinced me to leave well enough alone.
- 1 TB vegetable or other neutral flavored oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 pound deli-style roast beef (medium, if you can get it that rare)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
- 2 hoagie/sub or French bread rolls
- 1/2 cup Cheese whiz, slightly melted
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Once heated, add your hoagie rolls to the oven to get warm, no longer than 10 minutes.
- In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add 1/2 TB of the oil and the onions and let cook about 10 minutes, until translucent but not browning. Once they’re done, push to the side of the pan.
- To the other half of the pan, add the rest of the oil and the beef, and “scramble” the beef with a wooden spoon so that it gets browned (if medium) and looks torn, texture-wise. Remove from heat.
- Assemble each sandwich by putting half of the meat and half of the onions each roll, and drizzle with 1/4 cup wiz before serving.
Written while watching Dancing with the Stars. I can’t even believe how much I love this show. I will marry anyone that can swing my clumsy self around a dance floor like that.
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