I spent four years living outside of Philadelphia during college, when I was an undergrad at Haverford College. Most of my memories of food during college involve the mediocre typical college dining hall meals. I certainly wasn't doing much cooking in those days because I loved in the dorms rather than the apartments that were a trek from the center of campus. However, whenever I did take the less-than-reliable SEPTA commuter rail into Philly, I couldn't resist a cheesesteak from Pat's or Geno's. Eric, my fellow guest blogger, and I both went to Philly-area schools and have a similar fondness for the cheesesteak as one of our favorite Philly cuisines. Thus, we decided to have a friendly challenge where we would each make a cheesesteak that reminds us of our Philly college days and cheesesteak nostalgia, and write about it here on A Kitchen In Brooklyn.
In fairness, most of my cheesesteaks were inhaled in minutes, usually after drinking, so I wasn't paying much attention to the finer culinary points of the cheesesteaks during my college visits to Pats and Genos. What I remember, is the melted cheese and the thin, delicious steak, and also that I loved cheesesteaks with sauteed mushrooms and onions. When attempting to create this recipe, some years removed from college, I had the urge to caramelize the onions before adding them to the steak.
I purchased some quality Italian rolls from my local Italian market and butcher, M&S Prime Meats. In addition, I decided that a thinly sliced rib eye was the way to go with the steak, since it isn't quite as lean as a cut of filet or sirloin would be. The rib eye wasn't as thinly sliced as a Pat's cheesesteak, but it was cut into nice thing slices that my grill pan could easily handle.
To prepare the cheesesteaks, I seared the meat and cooked it through with a bit of canola oil in my grill pan. I caramelized the onions with a bit of sugar (sliced one onion and added two tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of canola oil to the pan). I sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil. I used sliced baby bella mushrooms. In addition, I bought a large roasted red pepper at the Italian market that I felt would be a perfect fit with this cheesesteak, so on it went.
Finally, it wouldn't be a cheesesteak without the cheese. Some of the recipes from Philly that I looked at actually use cheeze wiz, but I certainly wasn't about to do that! I decided that a sliced deli cheese was best and went with provolone. The proper way to make a cheesesteak likely involves drizzling melted cheese, but I toasted the buns, assembled the sandwich and put it in the oven with the cheese at 350 for about five minutes until the cheese was melted.
In summary, here are the ingredients you will need to prepare my version of the cheesesteak.