Monday, May 21, 2012

Philly Cheese Steaks

Philly cheese steak sandwich

We are both native Californians, but our familial roots are in Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Our dad grew up in Detroit, and left Michigan when he joined the army.  Our mom was born in Lebanon (home of Lebanon bologna!) and grew up in Palmyra and Mechanicsburg—our grandparents are now back in Palmyra again.  We grew up eating some distinctively Pennsylvania foods—red beet eggs, chicken corn soup, pot pie (real pot pie made in a pot), and Philly cheese steak sandwiches, which I’d like to share with you today.  This recipe is neither healthy, nor cheap, but it is one of our comfort foods and we rarely eat it.

Now-a-days, you can order a Philly cheese steak at just about any American-food restaurant and California even has a chain called The Cheese Steak Shop.  I would agree that most of these sandwiches you can get at restaurants are tasty, but they are not the cheese steaks we grew up eating.

The main difference between our cheese steaks and those you get at restaurants is sauce.  We like Tallarico’s Philly style steak sandwich sauce.  I have never seen it here on the West, so we wait with anticipation for Christmas packages from Grandpa and Grandma which almost always contain a jar or two.  In the absence of the steak sandwich sauce, pizza or spaghetti sauce will suffice.  In fact, The Cheese Steak Shop serves a “pizza cheese steak” which is their basic sandwich with pizza sauce.

As far as the veggies go, I just add caramelized onions, but you can also include peppers and mushrooms.

For the meet, I use Steak-umm sliced steaks.  I know.  Processed and expensive.  But this is how Grandma and Mom make them so that’s how we like them.  You could use real steak, thinly sliced, chopped, and grilled if you prefer.

These are WAY over my $2/lb. spending limit for meat, but
we only have them a couple times a year---and it's
completely worth it!

They come like this.  Keep them frozen until you are
ready to cook them.

From what I’ve heard/read/seen, the classic Philly cheese steak should have American cheese on it.  It is great that way, but sometimes I like to mix it up and use provolone.  When I can’t decide, I do half and half.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches
Butter for sautéing and bread
1 large onion
1 bell pepper (optional)
Mushrooms (optional)
2 packages Steak-umms
6 soft sandwich rolls
1 jar steak sandwich sauce (or pizza or spaghetti sauce)
Provolone or American cheese

Heat sauté pan over medium heat.  Meanwhile, slice onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms.  Add 1-2 Tbsp. butter to hot pan; melt.  Add veggies to pan and slowly caramelize, stirring occasionally.

While veggies are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, break sandwich steaks into pieces.  Add to heated skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until no pink remains.

If either the meat or the veggies are ready before you are, simply keep them warm in a 250° oven.  Heat sauce in microwave or on stove.  When onions, meat, and sauce are almost all ready, butter sandwich rolls and brown under broiler until golden.

This is what happens if you get distracted.  My family
didn't even know they were burnt because the filling
tasted so good.

Top one half with meat and the other half with veggies; spoon sauce over both sides.

It's a messy sandwich.

Cover all with desired cheese and place back under broiler to melt.

Soooooo good!!

And if you happen to visit The Cheese Steak Shop, be sure to pick up another one of our completely unhealthy favorite Pennsylvania comfort foods—Tastykakes!  The butterscotch krimpets are my favorite!  Kimiko likes the chocolate cupcakes out of the freezer.


Bapa said...

FYI, Vidalia onions are in the stores now. A little more expensive than regular onions, but so much sweeter. They're only available in the spring.

mama said...

Okay. Now I want a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich.

Philly steaks said...

I love your site. thanks for your great post.

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