Josh and I recently went to Philadelphia to celebrate Passover with his Aunt Ellen and Uncle Buzzy (more on that in a later Josh entry). While there we stopped and visited with my good friend, from JHU, Theodore. He's at UPenn Medical School, studying to How to Make a Million Trillion Dollars. We arrive around lunchtime, so we decided to go out and get...CHEESESTEAKS!!!! (according to Josh, 'Cheesesteak' doesn't have the word 'bread' in it- so it's Kosher for Passover) delicious.
There isn't much to a proper Philly Cheesesteak- ingredients-wise, but don't tell a native Philadelphian that, they would say it's a fine science (and honestly, if it is a science, the guys/gals at Jimmy's Steaks have it down!) Here's a simple recipe to recreate the delicious experience we had at Jimmy's. Enjoy!
1 pound Rib Eye, frozen, then cut very thin
Provolone Cheese or Cheese Whiz
4 Hoagie Rolls
Meat Make friends with your butcher. You need him to partially freeze a hunk of Rib Eye, and then slice it very thin. You want it sliced thin even though common sense tells us that thick is better. You can buy the hunk of rib eye and freeze and slice it yourself, but the butcher generally does a better job than I do. I can only get it about 1/8" thick and he does less
Bread This is the hard part. If you aren't in the Tristate area, and can't get AMOROSOS rolls (the only thing that is REALLY good on a cheesesteak) then you have to find a substitute. Squishy sub rolls will NOT do. They do not hold together under pressure. Refrain from buying those "hero" rolls too. A good hoagie roll is almost rubbery in texture, but quite soft. The best substitute I have found is a loaf of French bread. Not as good as the real thing, but hey, beggars can't be choosers.
Toppings: All of this is personal choice. I like fried onions and mushrooms myself. Cheeses used vary - I hate to admit it but I think cheese whiz tastes the best. Provolone is awesome too and that's what I would use if I was afraid of the plastic orange stuff called whiz. Cooking the steak: In a cast iron frying pan, or a grill pan heat some oil. Saute toppings until pliable - make them however you like them. Remove them from pan and set aside. Pour some more oil in the pan (I use olive oil, but if you have access to the stuff they use in restaurants on grills it would taste even better) on medium high heat. Place 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound of meat in the pan, lying the pieces flat and overlapping to form a shape that will fit nicely in a bun. When the meat turns gray with doneness, flip it over and if you are using cheese slices now is the time to lie them on top of the meat. Add the other toppings back into the pan next to the meat and allow to reheat. Cover the pan to allow the cheese to melt. This should take 1-2 minutes. If the meat looks overcooked, that's OK - it should be GRAY.
This is the time to toast the bread if you so wish. I don't like mine toasted at all. Warmed is OK. If you are using cheese whiz, warm it in the microwave. Pick up meat and melted cheese with a spatula and deposit on the roll. IF using cheese whiz, use a butter knife or chopstick to smear whiz next to the meat.
Push the meat on one side of the roll and deposit the toppings next to it. This is important because if you put the toppings ON the meat, they will not be in the bottom of the sandwich, which really sucks. You should get meat, toppings and cheese in every bite.