Friday, February 20, 2009

Hold the Cheese Whiz

A word of advice: If you ever get the opportunity to go to Pennsylvania and have an authentic Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich you must say it is the best one you have ever eaten or the person who took you to the restaurant will be highly insulted.

When I was visiting Emily in New Jersey last year we spent a weekend at Ryan and Kelly's beautiful house on the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. On the way back from a grocery run, Kelly stopped at a quirky old place near Kintnersville to treat me to a real Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich. After we ate, I asked Emily how she thought the cheese steaks compared to the ones I make at home and she said they were good, but not as good as mine and things got a little tense with Kelly saying mine were not authentic and me saying I didn't ask which was more authentic but which one tasted better. The atmosphere was chilly all the way back to the house.

They take their cheese steak seriously folks.

There are whole websites devoted to debating whether the best can be found at Pat's or Geno's, Cheese whiz or provolone, rib eye or sirloin. Chopped or sliced.

A couple of times I've gone a little crazy and made them from tenderloin I had in the freezer. Last night, I made them from sirloin they have on sale at my favorite Mexican supermarket for $2.99 a pound.

Usually getting steak there is problematic because they tend to slice them all really, really thin, but for the purposes of cheese steak, this is exactly how you want them. It probably wasn't necessary but, to get the right texture for a sandwich, I gave the steaks a few good whacks with my meat mallet before cutting them into the finest strips I could without removing the tips of my fingers. Then I marinated them for several hours in the refrigerator in a couple of capfuls of

Dale's seasoning and some black pepper.

Cheese steak sandwiches

2 lbs thin sliced sirloin steak

1 or 2 Tbs of Dales Seasoning

black pepper to taste

2 green peppers cut into 2 inch strips

1 large onion cut into 2 inch slices

2 Tbs vegetable oil

8 ounces of sliced cheese. I prefer provolone but you can substitute American or cheddar or even Cheese Whiz (as long as you don't tell me)

sub rolls or one big 18" to 20" loaf of Cuban or Puerto Rican bread


Pound the meat with a meat mallet to tenderize it then slice it into very thin strips.

Put the meat in a bowl with the Dale's and sprinkle with pepper and marinate in the refrigerator while you chop the onions and peppers or for up to a couple of hours until you are ready to eat.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or electric skillet and saute the onions and peppers until they are limp. If your pan is large enough, you can saute the meat at the same time. If not, remove the onions and peppers and fry the beef strips until they are just cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Slice the bread lengthwise and pile on the meat. Liberally sprinkle peppers and onions on top of the meat then cover with sliced cheese. Cut in to halves or quarters and microwave for about a minute to melt the cheese.

To go with them I made a batch of macaroni salad.

Our Favorite Macaroni Salad

8 ounces of elbow macaroni

1 cup of mayonnaise (I use Hellmann's - William would say Dukes - north is north and south is south and never the twain shall meet)

2 Tbs apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs spicy brown mustard

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

6 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced green pepper

1/3 cup of chopped onion


Cook the macaroni in a pot of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes or until done. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool.

While the macaroni is cooking (or while it is cooling) mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar and pepper. Add the chopped vegetables, egg and macaroni and toss with a couple of spoons until the macaroni is coated in the dressing. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to chill.


Emily said...

There was more grease in the cheese steaks from that restaurant than there was steak. They were tasty, but I guess I just happen to prefer taking a bite out of something and not having my arteries shrivel reflexively.

Ryan Kelly said...

My father's philosophy is the greasier and saltier, the better! He eats Chili out of a can for Pete's sake. I have no doubt your cheese steaks are better but he, being a Pennsylvanian at his heart, resented you calling your Dade City Cheese Steaks Philadelphia Cheese Steaks.

I did not realize the atmosphere was chilly. =/

Jill said...

Just briefly. The funny thing was, your dad and I were both making the same point. I didn't say mine were authentic - I just asked Emily which she liked better - and being the astute human being that she is (considering I was sitting right next to her)- of course said mine.

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