Does the best classic cheesesteak sandwich come from Philly or from your own kitchen? This one has everything you want from the original Philly, without the airfare.
With the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, I thought I’d give you another party option for your Game Day offerings. Our traditional Super Bowl menu celebrates the regional food from the areas of the country where the teams are from. For 2018, it’s New England vs. Philadelphia. Monday I paid tribute to the Patriots with those incredible lobster rolls.. Today, we’re highlighting Philly with arguably the most obvious choice — a classic cheesesteak sandwich.
Like a classic French dip au jus, cheesesteaks are a notch above a standard hoagie. I admit, I’d never made one… but once I’d gotten the technique down, I couldn’t STOP making them. Rather than head to the frozen foods aisle for that childhood favorite, SteakUmmm, I talked to my butcher and we agreed that a ribeye, very thinly sliced would do an admirable job for this steak sandwich — he even used his industrial Hobart to cut the meat, so I wouldn’t have to freehand it at home.
The butcher did a good job of slicing, but I went a step further and pounded it out with the flat side of my meat mallet. Several firm, but disciplined whacks later, the slice were about 1/8″ thick. Perfect for a quick griddle.
Peppers and onions are a must, too. Sliced thinly and sautéed until they’re soft and golden. Now for the magic. There is a technique to these cheesesteak sandwiches that I hadn’t even thought about — until I decided to make them. Frankly, I thought that describing it would take more effort than just showing you… So here’s how you do it…
The key is to let the meat sit on the griddle long enough to start to get some charred, crusty bits — and that happens while you’re dressing the chopped meat with peppers, onions and cheese. The key is — don’t mess with it. Let the cheese melt. While the provolone is slumping into the crannies of the beef, onions and peppers, the meat resting on the griddle is searing and producing a fond that will add texture and depth to your Philly inspired cheesesteak.
I hear some of you muttering, “where’s the Cheez Whiz?” If that’s your thing, go for it. It’s your prerogative. For me, I want real cheese that melts in long, oozy strings, never quite separating from the sandwich even as I pull away with my first luscious bite.
If you want to make several sandwiches and keep them warm to serve during the game, assemble the cheesesteaks in the hoagie rolls and tightly wrap them individually in parchment or foil. They’ll keep in a low oven (about 250°) for up to an hour.
Classic Cheesesteak Sandwich
- 2 green peppers seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 medium onions (Spanish or yellow), thinly sliced into ring
- 3 teaspoons olive oil divided
- pinch salt & pepper
- 2 pounds very thinly sliced ribeye (have the butcher slice it for you on his Hobart)
- 4 hoagie rolls
- 8 ounces sliced provolone or Cheez Whiz
- Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place one thin slice of ribeye on it. Fold the plastic over the rib eye and use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound the ribeye very thin without tearing it. Transfer ribeye to a plate and continue with the rest of the meat. Cover and refrigerate.
- Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, peppers and onions. Saute until softened and browned about 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly.
- In a large cast iron skillet or griddle add 1 teaspoon olive oil and heat over medium heat. When oil is hot add about half of the sliced beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let the beef cook for a minute or two. Then use a metal spatula to break up and "chip" the beef into smaller pieces, cooking for about 5-7 minutes until well cooked and some of the beef takes on a bit of crustiness.
- Use the spatula to line the beef up in a long row in the pan. Spoon half of the onion pepper mixture directly over the beef. Top with half of the provolone cheese and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melty.
- Slice open 2 of the hoagie rolls. Slide the spatula under the meat mixture and transfer to the hoagie rolls. Place on a tray to serve -- or wrap tightly in parchment paper and cut the sandwiches in half -- the cheese stays warm and melty this way. Repeat with the remaining beef, onions and peppers to make additional sandwiches.
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