Philly Cheesesteaks

I work a lot in Pennsylvania (PA, for short), and I’ve been there a quite often lately. I work in the Pocono area, and just enjoy the people, the mountains (ha..mountains!! I grew up 150 miles from the eastern rim of the Rockies.. “Mt. Pocono” is just a big hill ;) ), and the food, too.

There are amazing farmers markets – the Amish sell the most amazing foods — from apples to onions, meats of all kinds (sausages are heavenly), breads, muffins, cheeses, pies.. you name it. Over the summer I’ve stopped at the local farmers market quite often, just to grab something for lunch, or some apples to bring home.

There are some amazing restaurants, but even aside from the fancy sit-down restaurants, there are great walk-in places, such as the deli near my office. They serve everything from buttered toast to amazing omelette’s, to the best chicken fillet you’ll ever eat, and salads that just make you drool. There is the bar/restaurant down on 611 that serves a $5.00 lunch that includes steak, some sort of potato, and salad – that steak just about melts in your mouth. Nearby, they local brewery has a restaurant with good food and 40 types of beer on tap, including 3 or 4 of their own.

The people of PA are a mix of Pennsylvania Dutch, various immigrants (German, Latvian, Lithuanian), and New Yorkers. The New Yorkers have brought an attitude to PA, that didn’t exist before. The population growth of the region, (at about 6%) shows about 80% of new growth is from New York. With them (not including their attitude :P ),they have brought Starbucks, good bagels, decent pizza, Italian and Chinese restaurants, and old-fashioned New York pastry.

But one thing that PA does, and does so well that absolutely nobody can compete, not even if they duplicate the recipe, is the Cheesesteak sandwich.. aka Philadelphia Cheesesteak, Philly Cheesesteak, or steak and cheese. Invented in about 1930, these sandwiches are famous throughout the US. When most people think ‘cheesesteak’ they immediately think of Philly. Although I’ve never had one actually made in Philly, the ones I’ve had up north in the Pocono’s, and even in southern PA, near Gettysburg, were just.. sinfully yummy.

I’ve had cheesesteaks in New York, I’ve had them in Colorado, Texas, Maryland, and they have all been good. But none, not one, has or will ever compare to a cheesesteak made in PA.

The steaks and onions are paper thin. The peppers (which really are not my thing), are perfect, the mushrooms are fresh and sauted just until just perfectly cooked, and the American cheese is always just the right amount – almost too much, but never too little. Mayo, too, if thats your thing, (and it is mine).

I watched the cook yesterday prepare my cheesesteak. She first dumped a large amount of butter onto a grill, (I’m talking at /least/ 4 tablespoons), and then some golden and caramelized onions she had frying in another pan, along with some fresh sliced mushrooms. She then placed the steak on top of the onions, just until it was no longer pink, and with the side of her spatula, chopped it all up. I skipped peppers this time, and so her next step was laying a few slices of American cheese over top. While the cheese was melting, she very quickly sliced a long roll, and with the spatula, picked up the steak, and dropped in just perfectly into the slice roll. She wrapped it up, put it in a paper bag, and handed it to me.

By the time I got back to the office, the greasy paperback gave the hint to everyone what I was having (again) for lunch. No way I could eat it all for lunch, though I must admit I tried. The other half got eaten on my way back to New York from PA. A cold cheesesteak is still a cheesesteak, after all.

If any of you ever get a chance to come to PA – if for business or for pleasure, make sure you get a cheesesteak. Skip the fancy restaurants idea of this sandwich, and go for the local deli – it’ll be fried up just right.. with that perfect amount of everything. Six months after your PA visit, you’ll still be thinking about this sandwich.

hmm.. I wonder when I can go back again? I think I’ll plan my next office visit for next week.. and I know /exactly/ what I’ll have for lunch.

;-)

Though the ingredients for the particular sandwich I had is a bit different (American cheese, and not “cheeze wiz”, and made with butter and not oil), for those who cannot get to PA, below is the recipe from the original Cheesesteak restaurant… “Pat’s King of Steaks”. (Original Link here)

The Original Pat’s King of Steaks® Philadelphia Cheese Steak recipe

For all the people who can not get to South Philadelphia to get the Original.

Here is the recipe for you home chefs.

Serves 4

24oz thin sliced rib eye or eye roll steak
6 table spoons of Soya bean oil
Cheese {we recommend Cheez Whiz®} American or Provolone works fine
4 crusty Italian Rolls
1 large Spanish onion

Optional
sweet green and red peppers sautéed in oil
Mushrooms sautéed in oil

Assembly

Heat an iron skillet or a non stick pan over medium heat add3 table spoons of oil to the pan and sauté the onions to desired doneness remove the onions
add the remaining oil and sauté the slices of meat quickly on both sides melt the cheez Whiz® in a double boiler or in the microwave place 6oz. of the meat into the rolls add onions, and pour the Cheez Whiz® over top garnish with hot or fried sweet peppers, mushrooms, ketchup. Put on the theme song to the first Rocky movie and enjoy!

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6 Responses

  1. My family is originally from the Western part of PA. But I grew up as a young child in DE so cheesesteaks were big there as well! What a tasty treat!

    Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

  2. Hi there you have a great blog,lovely recipes. Feel free to visit my blog too :)

    Jeena xx

    click here for food recipes

  3. Carole ~ I gotta have a Philly Cheese Steak one time *********
    You can tell ’em…Hold the onions + peppers for yours !

    LKRISSOBIZZARRE

  4. MY SON GOES TO SCHOOL AT VILLANOVA, NORTH OF PHILLY. THE BEST CHEESESTEAKS AROUND ARE IN BALA CYNCWYD. MOMMA’S IS A PIZZARIA/RESTAURANT AND I’VE NEVER HAD A BIGGER, MORE DELICIOUS CHEESESTEAK!

  5. Hey I’m from South Philly and living in Colorado. I just opened my own place so I can have a decent Cheesesteak!! We make our own hotsauce to…just like South Philly.

  6. You can get the real deal, a cheesesteak that is, in Pensacola Florida. Hunt down ‘Philly’s’ if you’re in the neighborhood.

    http://pensacolarestaurant.wordpress.com/2007/12/26/phillys/

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