What constitutes a great Philly cheesesteak sandwich? Some will say the perfect one consists of a hoagie roll, several slices of good quality beef, a bunch of caramelized onions and, of course, a cheese that’s tasty as well as gooey when it melts.
The original Philly cheesesteak sandwich was created by two Philadelphia brothers, Harry and Pat Olivieri in about 1930. According to one account, the two operated a street-side hot dog grill in the home of the Liberty Bell. One day, Pat said to Harry, “Here’s a quarter. Go to the Italian Market and buy a hunk of steak.”
The brothers cut up the steak, grilled it with sliced onions, and slapped it on a roll. A cab driver who drove by asked what they called the sandwich. “I guess you call it a steak sandwich,” they said, and sold it for a dime. And that was the birth of the Philadelphia steak.
It wasn’t until 22 years later that cheese was added, first Cheez Whiz and subsequently provolone and American cheese and pizza sauce.
I got to think about the sandwich today after seeing one advertised at a Holiday station while getting some gas for my car. While I didn’t rush in and buy one, it made me think twice. Here’s a recipe that I might give a try, although it does appear to be a bit extravagant.
Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons applewood-smoked bacon drippings
2 ounces Spanish onions, julienned
2 ounces green bell peppers, julienned
5 ounces choice rib-eye steak, sliced 1/16 inch thick
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
2 pinches fresh thyme
½ cup warmed cheese sauce (such as Cheese Whiz)
1 8-inch ciabatta or hoagie roll
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a hot pan pour the vegetable oil, the bacon fat, and onions and saute until golden brown. This should take 10 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to burn or they will become bitter instead of sweet. Next, add the green peppers and saute for 2 minutes. Then add the rib-eye, shred with 2 spatulas and cook until well done (about 5 to 7 minutes). Season with salt, pepper and the thyme and pull off of the fire.
Place the bread in the oven for about 5 minutes and then slice in half but leave the back connected. Place the meat mixture evenly over the bread and pour the warm cheese sauce over the top. Close the top of the sandwich, place it on a plate, grab three napkins and a beer, and chow down.
Yield: Serves 1.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 1,284 calories, 74 percent of calories from fat, 106 grams fat (38 grams saturated, 40 grams monounsaturated), 247 grams cholesterol, 43 grams protein, 44 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 2,312 milligrams sodium.