This meal was all ChefDad, so he’ll share this one in his own words. 🙂
Today we head to Pennsylvania for Philly Cheesesteaks, and if Ribbie and Roobarb merit a spot on this blog, surely we can find room for a true legend among mascots–the Philly Phanatic. I’ve had a taste for a Philly Cheesesteak for the last couple of weeks, though I confess to limited experience with them. We did order cheesesteaks at the old Veteran’s Stadium back in 2003, though I suspect mom was too busy taking pictures of Kyle Farnsworth to pay much attention to her meal.
The internet’s not much help for cheesesteak recipes–it seems there is no universal formula beyond thinly sliced beef, cheese and bread. Nevertheless I felt confident as I began this undertaking, as mom said to Mr. N, “He’s been to Philadelphia once and he thinks he knows how to make cheesesteaks.” Yes I did. We settled on a set of toppings–onions, green peppers, and mushrooms.
The proper choice of cheese is a matter of some controversy among aficionados, with American and provolone competing with Cheez Whiz for market share. We went with mozzarella.
For the meat, we weren’t sure what to pick and so we went with a product that I’m sure will upset true Philly fans (nothing wrong with that)–Vienna beef, a Chicago staple. It was a good choice, but it would have been better if we’d let it thaw overnight instead of defrosting it in the microwave. It didn’t defrost evenly which made it hard to cook just right.
Since we don’t have a stainless steel grill to cook on, I got out the griddle as the next best thing. I’m used to Italian-style beef sandwiches which are drippier than a typical cheesesteak, and it seemed to me that the trick was to cook up the meat so it was seared a little bit, then rely on the toppings and cheese to give it a soft and gooey texture. I cooked two sandwiches worth of meat at a time, maybe two minutes per batch, flipping occasionally, then I topped them with the cheese and melted it for another minute, covered.
Meanwhile, I sautéed the onions for five minutes in a skillet with some beef juice, then added green peppers and sliced mushrooms and cooked for another five minutes. I suspect this is a bit healthier with the beef juices than oil would have been, and they came out just right.
I toasted the rolls for a minute, scooped the meat and cheese on a roll, and topped with the sautéed veggies–voila! They looked fantastic.
The sandwiches turned out pretty good, but it turns out I have a lot to learn about cheesesteaks. First and foremost, don’t nibble on the beef while it’s cooking. They would have been substantially better if they were packed thicker with meat–the bread overwhelmed the filling at times. The fat bites were really good, but the other bites were just OK. The meat turned out about like I hoped it would, and I’d do the veggies the same way next time. The sandwiches just needed to be thicker, and I bet an authentic Philly cheesesteak is somewhat greasier than what we had. Mom and I gave it two spoons, and so did Mr. N, and Miss A (after they picked off the veggies). It was a decent weeknight meal and the leftovers made for a good lunch too.
Print this recipe: Philly Cheesesteak