There are a few things in life that are well worth the momentary spike in cholesterol. Here in east Texas, those things consist of chicken-fried steaks, chips and salsa and Pittsburg hot links. Where you live, that guilty pleasure could be anything from a huge slice of New York-style Pizza to a deep-fried hot dog topped with addictive relish.
If you live in the city of brotherly love, your go-to pleasure is the steak sandwich. Particularly, the cheese steak.
The Philly steak sandwich goes back about 80 years, when brothers Pat and Harry Olivieri started hawking the bullet-shaped fare alongside hot dogs and other portable chow. The early version consisted of basically of griddled beef and onions that were placed inside a thin-yet-fluffy roll. In the 1940s the brothers opened the world’s first Philadelphia steak sandwich shop on the corner of East Passyunk Avenue and South 9th Street. Pat’s King of Steaks remains open on that corner 24 hours a day.
Did you know? The cheese steak sandwich wasn’t really born until the 1960s, not long after Kraft introduced Cheez Whiz to the world. Pat’s, according to most accounts, was also the first purveyor of steak sandwiches slathered with Kraft’s new concoction. By the 1970s, cheese steak sandwich shops dotted the landscape, including Geno’s, which sits across from Pat’s. In addition to ‘Whiz’ sandwiches (as they’re referred to locally), steak sandwich shops use American cheese and provolone. Peppers, mushrooms and pizza sauce also became popular along the way.
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Philadelphia Cheese Steak
- 3 lbs - Chuck roast
- 2 cups - Milk for marinating (optional)
- 2 TB - Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 TB - Kosher salt
- 2 - Large onions, diced
- 2 - Sweet (bell) peppers, sliced thinly
- 2 TB - Vegetable oil
- 8 thick slices - American cheese
- 4 - Baguettes (about 8 inches)
- Remove large pieces of fat and save for another use. Slice meat against the grain as thinly as possible (about the same width as a U.S. Half Dollar). This is easier to do when the roast is about ¾ frozen. If using the optional milk marinade (and you really should), place the meat slices in a bowl and add milk. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5-6 hours. Otherwise, get cooking.
- Baguettes need to be slightly crispy on the outside and somewhat fluffy on the inside. About 10 minutes in a 375F oven accomplishes this.
- Slice warmed baguettes lengthwise, but not all the way through (à la a hot dog roll).
- In a large skillet, preheat oil on medium high (or 375F on a griddle).
- Add onions and peppers. Stir to coat with oil.
- Cook onions and peppers until starting to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add meat (drained of milk, if marinated) to hot pan/griddle and cook mixture until meat is about done, about 2 minutes.
- Lay cheese slices across meat/onion/pepper mixture and with a spatula, chop and mix to combine.
- Place one-fourth of filling in each sliced warm baguette. Slice each sandwich in half.
- Serve with fries or potato chips.
- Enjoy. (And make certain you have your cholesterol medicine on hand.)