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Philly Cheese Steak

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

As much as any food can be associated with a city, Philadelphia is the provenance of cheese steaks. In countless eateries around the city you can order a hoagie of thinly sliced meat, gloriously gooey cheese, and a variety of other ingredients including onions, sweet and hot peppers, and tomato sauce. Cheese steaks aren’t all that refined, but they are great, greasy fun. When I crave a cheese steak, I take it to a new level, using prime aged beef, imported Italian cheese, and an artisan-baked loaf of bread. If you like, you can flavor the beef’s cooking oil by adding a whole, peeled garlic clove to the oil and browning it for a minute or two while cooking the beef.

Nightly Specials

Use thinly sliced chicken breast instead of beef.

Use fresh mozzarella instead of fontina or provolone.

Add some sliced red and yellow peppers to the frying peppers.

If you like it spicier, add some pickled jalapeno slices.

Makes4 sandwiches

Cooking Methodsauteeing

CostModerate

Moderate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

Occasiongame day

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturecheesy, juicy, meaty, rich, savory, tangy, umami

Type of Dishsandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shell, sirloin, or rib steak, well trimmed and boneless
  • About ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 6 Italian frying peppers, halved and stemmed, seeds discarded
  • 4 soft hero breads or hoagie rolls, halved lengthwise
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ pound imported  or sharp, aged provolone cheese, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Slice the beef thinly on an electric meat slicer, or use the following method: with plastic wrap, tightly roll the steak into a torpedo or log shape. Put the beef log in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes to firm it until tight but not frozen. Remove the plastic wrap and, working quickly, use an electric knife to slice the beef into paper-thin slices, almost shaving the beef. If this does not produce very thin results, cut the beef into the thinnest slices possible and flatten the slices using a meat pounder. Once all the beef has been cut, refrigerate until the remaining ingredients are ready.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pan set over low heat. Put in the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until nicely softened and lightly caramelized but not browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer the onions to a bowl and set aside. Add the pepper halves to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and fry until soft and tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the onions. Keep the onions and peppers covered and warm.

  3. In a clean, heavy-bottomed saute pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the beef in batches and lightly brown, seasoning with salt and pepper as you cook, and adding more oil if necessary.

  4. Pull out a little of the doughy insides of each loaf, then drizzle lightly with oil, a splash of vinegar; and a pinch of salt and pepper. Put one-quarter of the beef inside each roll, top with onions and peppers, and finish with several slices of cheese. Wrap snugly in sandwich wrapping paper, slice diagonally in half, and serve.

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