Monday, April 19, 2010

Eric's Kitchen in Jersey City: Bacon Cheesesteak

I've spent the last week or so working and staying in Philly, so I figured what better way to celebrate than by making a cheesesteak. Sasha and I started discussing our fond memories of cheesesteaks from college in Philly and both wanted to try our hands at recreating the experience at home (hers is here). The 'best cheesesteak' in Philly is always a hot topic for locals. The most visited are probably Pat's and Geno's in South Philly, which face-off across the street from each other and honestly taste pretty similar. Then you've got Tony Luke's where his steaks are a little thicker and he now has a location in Citizen's Bank park. At any of these you'll find late night drinkers lining up by the dozen ordering 'whiz-with' (your cheese choice, cheese-whiz, american, or provolone, and then whether or not you want fried onions). I personally always went with American cheese and onions. Another place I loved getting cheesesteaks is actually on Princeton's campus near my Mom's house in central NJ and is called Hoagie Haven. 'Haven' definitely isn't a typical cheesesteak but they offer things like a cheesesteak with bacon or another one of my favorites, the buffalo chicken cheesesteak (I may have to tackle this one soon as well).

So in making my own at home, I decided to go with the bacon cheesesteak.

2 large italian hoagie rolls
.9 lbs of thinly sliced top round
half a vidalia onion, sliced
half a box of sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/5 lb. of deli-sliced white american cheese
1/4 lb. of bacon

One of the reasons the cheesesteaks in Philly are so good, in my humble opinion, is that they use the Amoroso bakery's rolls. I thought about doing this while staying at my friend's in Philly just so I could use these rolls as well but found some decent rolls in Jersey City and went with them. I did hollow out the inside to remove some of the 'fluff' and lose some of the extra carbs because you know I've gotta watch all those calories while making a sandwich with bacon, steak and cheese... Anyway, first I cooked the bacon until crispy and set it aside. I removed the bacon grease and sauteed the mushrooms and onions in olive oil with a little black pepper and garlic.

I was a little disappointed that A&P's meat section wouldn't slice some rib-eye for me and told me there was thinly sliced top round on the shelf which is what we ended up going with. This was a big mistake in my opinion. The meat was fine but I should have either sliced it even more thinly, or pounded it thin. Normally when I make cheesesteaks at home I use steak 'um's or something similar and actually preferred that but I think I would have preferred the top round or rib eye IF it were thinner. The meat tasted good but was kind of overpowering because the chunks were so big and made it tough to taste the bacon and cheese. I guess I had hoped it would turn out more like Tony Luke's with the thicker meat.

Any time I cook meat in a pan (or a grill for that matter), I only cook each side once. Otherwise it can get overcooked and tough. You just want to sear each side and look in the juices and keep it tender. I also seasoned it with garlic powder and cracked black pepper. Once the meat was ready to flip, I added the onions, mushrooms and bacon and lined it up so it would fit nicely in the roll. Then I added the cheese on top and covered it with the sliced roll to help the cheese melt underneath. This is definitely the method of choice at most cheesesteak places I've been to while sober enough to watch and learn...

Now at most places that serve cheesesteaks, then have a giant grill area and large spatulas where they can just flip over the entire sandwich in one move and have the nicely layered sandwich. This is a lot tougher with a frying pan and normal sized spatula. Mine kind of fell apart when attempting to do this at home but eventually all the pieces made their way into the sandwich. I ended up adding a bunch of sliced jalapeno peppers and ketchup. Jenn just wanted Mayo... In the end it was a very tasty sandwich although I think I would have liked it much better with more thinly sliced meat.



  1. Wow! Looks mouth-wateringly good.

  2. Forgot to add that the rolls were toasted first, so much better that way!

  3. You're making hungry!


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